Reading the bible can be really dull. I struggled for a long time to read it and understand it. But, like learning to play an instrument, the more you do it the easier it becomes. Duty and discipline begin to turn to moments of delight. One of the secrets to finding delight in the Word is what I call “doorways”. They’re little revelations the Holy Spirit drops into your heart that act as doorways into understanding an entire book or chapter of the Bible in a way that touches the heart. When I read the Bible I am always looking for these doorways. Recently, I was in a Bible study and a friend said something that opened a doorway into the gospel of John. It was an observation about the text that gave me insight into the narrator of the gospel. It put me right in John the Beloved’s shoes. When I find a doorway into a book I endeavour later to write a paraphrase of that book. So I’ve begun writing a paraphrase of the gospel of John. I thought I’d share a few of the verses in the hope they’d also help you find a doorway into this magnificent gospel.
Book of John
Introduction (verses 1 – 18)
I have a great story to tell you. It happened many years ago now as I write from my little upper room in the great city of Ephesus with the candles flickering light and leaving wax stains across my paper. Many glorious things have happened since then and many sad things too but the memories of those days are still fresh in my mind as if it were yesterday. They still bring tears to my eyes and love to my heart – the very mention of His name is like sweet perfume in a room to me. For in those three years we were given a life changing revelation: in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning. Through the Word all things were made and without Him nothing created was made. In Him is life and that life is the light of all mankind. His life is a light that shines in the chaos and confusion of this world like a lighthouse pointing humanity home. The darkness of chaos, sin and confusion has not overcome His light. He shines still like a beacon calling us home.
My part in this story comes through a man named The Baptist. Me and my friends followed the Baptist for a few months. He caused a great stir in the land and for a few months we were at the centre of this national stirring – partly naïve and partly idealistic youth we had amazing adventures with The Baptist.
We didn’t understand it then but The Baptist was a prophet who came as a witness of the Light that was coming so that all would be ready and prepared and have opportunity to know and receive. The Baptist was not the light but bore witness of the light, of the coming Word. This is why The Baptist had to come – for the one’s who were made by the Light Himself did not know Him or understand what He was like. The Baptist came to alert them to the coming of Light and Life in a Man called the Word but mostly the people did not understand what the Baptist told them – they just liked being part of the stir.
However, there were a few who did understand and did believe and did see and these the Word gave the right to become children of Light and Life, children of God – born not of blood nor of the will of humans but born of God. That is the light and life the Word came to show us and bestow upon us – that He wanted all humans to be His sons and daughters.
So to do this, the eternal Word/God took on the humanity of an earthly body and lived among us. This story is the story of how I and my friends saw His light and Life and entered into the sonship He offered. We saw His glory, tho
ugh why we saw it when we were just as caught up in the stir as most other people I still do not know. We saw in this Man the glory of God Himself, the Glory of a beloved Son. I know it sounds crazy but that is why I must tell you. Someone who was there has to tell you. He really was full of grace and truth – the way He carried Himself and the way He looked at you – grace and truth were Him. I don’t know how else to describe it.