Testifying to the Light (John 1:6-8)

“There came a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to testify about the Light, so that all might believe through him. He was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light” (John 1:6-8; all Scripture quotations are from the NASB1995).

Depiction of Jesus and John the Baptist, Église Saint-Martin, Réthoville, Manche, Basse-Normandie, France. Photo by Andreas F. Borchert (CC BY-SA 3.0 DE https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/de/deed.en), via Wikimedia Commons

John’s Gospel introduces Jesus as the Word of God and the Light of the world. A summary of John the Baptist’s ministry interrupts this introduction. John the Baptist served a significant role in God’s plan of redemption. He was the Messiah’s forerunner, the last prophet of the Old Testament era, and the prophet who paved the way for Jesus to introduce the New Testament.

The apostle emphasized that John the Baptist was not the Light. Jesus is the true Light of the world (John 8:12). Nevertheless, He would tell His disciples that we—His followers—are also the light of the world:

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:14-16).

As I shared in a previous article, the Christian becomes the light of the world by reflecting Jesus’ light to others. That was John the Baptist’s role: He was not the light of the world, but his ministry pointed people’s attention to the true Light, the coming Messiah, Jesus. John’s job was to point others to Jesus, to testify that He was coming soon, and to preach a message of repentance so that they would be ready to believe in Christ.

John the Baptist knew his role. He knew that Jesus deserved more honor.

“John testified about Him and cried out, saying, ‘This was He of whom I said, “He who comes after me has a higher rank than I, for He existed before me”’” (John 1:15).

Later, as his popularity dwindled, some of his disciples left him to follow Jesus. In response, he would say, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30). His job was to point people to Jesus. Once they started following Jesus, his work was finished. It was time for him to disappear from the limelight.

While John the Baptist was Jesus’ forerunner, he was also an example for all who would follow Christ. We, too, must decrease so that Jesus’ presence, power, and prominence may increase in our lives and spheres of influence. Sometimes, Christians want to build our own little kingdoms when we should advance the kingdom of God: “This is my church, my ministry, or my blog. I must make sure more people know who I am so that they can hear my message.”

By Alvinysf (Crossmap) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons

That is how a fallen world thinks. It is not a very Christian attitude. We must decrease. Like John the Baptist, we need to keep pointing to Jesus. We need to testify about how Jesus has changed our lives and, more importantly, what He has done to bring salvation to all who will believe in Him. We have to glorify Him so that others will praise, worship, and follow Him. We must live in such a way that people will come to know Jesus through us.

Let us take the spotlight off of ourselves and shine it on Jesus, so that those we meet may follow Him.

What are some ways that you have been able to shine the light of Jesus to others? Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, deity of Christ | Tags: , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Word Became Flesh. II: The Word Was God

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it” (John 1:1-5; all Scripture quotations are from the NASB1995).

Image via Pixabay.

The Gospel of John is often called “the theological Gospel.” Whereas the three other three Gospels mainly report what Jesus taught and did, John’s Gospel interjects explanation and commentary. He also shares more “private teaching” that was deeper and more complex than what Jesus said in the other Gospels. John wrote near the end of the first century when several heresies were developing in the church (see his three letters for more background on those). Therefore, his Gospel rebuts many of those false teachings.

One such teaching was the notion that Jesus was not fully God and fully man. Some Christians thought that Jesus was just an ordinary man. Others said He was God but only looked like a real person; they also claimed He only seemed to die on the cross but only fell unconscious and woke up while in the tomb.

In response to these teachings, John writes the verses we read above. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This might confuse us, but it probably made more sense to John’s readers: first-century Jews who knew rabbinic tradition and Gentiles familiar with the philosophy of Plato.

Jews would immediately recognize the Word of God with its many facets. They had their sacred writings, which we now call the Old Testament. But, God’s Word was also a creative force that exercised His power. God spoke the universe into existence at creation (Genesis 1). It was not merely letters on a scroll or the wavelike vibration of air molecules to generate sound. It had power.

Jews would also associate God’s Word with wisdom, which is described as having a personality in the Old Testament, for example, in Proverbs 1:20-33 and 8:22-26:

“Wisdom shouts in the street, She lifts her voice in the square; At the head of the noisy streets she cries out; At the entrance of the gates in the city she utters her sayings…” (Proverbs 1:20-21).

“The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth. When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no springs abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills I was brought forth; While He had not yet made the earth and the fields, Nor the first dust of the world” (Proverbs 8:22-26).

Image via YouVersion Bible app.

It would not surprise a Jew or a Platonist that the Word was God. Followers of Plato would say that the Logos (the Greek word translated as “Word” above) is the wisdom, logic, and order that guides the universe. What made it different was the idea that this Word or Logos was not only God but also became human:

“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).

“For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ” (John 1:17).

The Word was not just letters on a page, nor was it a set of abstract concepts or ideas. It became a man, Jesus Christ. He became a man, but He was always God. From before the beginning of time, Jesus—the Word of God—was God. He did not grow up and learn how to be God, declare Himself to be God, or figure out how to show us that we are all divine. No, in a unique way, He was God: before He was born, while He lived, after His resurrection, and throughout eternity.

“For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form…” (Colossians 2:9).

When He was conceived in Mary’s womb, the fullness of deity dwelt within a single-celled zygote, then an embryo, a fetus, a baby, a child, and eventually a Man. At all points in His earthly life, He was God.

The Word and Wisdom that shaped the universe entered creation as a vulnerable child. John wrote that “the darkness did not comprehend it.” Indeed, few understood Him: not those who lived in spiritual darkness, nor the religious leaders, nor even His own family. His disciples usually did not understand Him. Christians who boast that we walk by faith in Him do not fully understand Him. If the idea that Jesus could be fully divine when He was just a single cell within His mother’s body blows your mind, you are not alone. The mystery that Jesus could be both God and man overwhelms our understanding. To follow Him, we must take a leap of faith. We must remember and believe that God is beyond our comprehension. We have to trust Him and not our understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

The power that created the universe became human. That power now dwells personally with and in us by His Holy Spirit. Since He can govern the galaxies, He can easily deal with the problems we face. The Life Recovery Bible: New Living Translation (Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House, 1998) shares the following lesson from John 1:1-13:

“The same Power that created the universe is available to create a new life from our shattered hopes. The light of life that exposes and drives away the darkness of the human race is the same light that brightens the dark corners of our world. This source of all life and true light of the world is the source of all recovery. Eternal life and true recovery are ours when we believe what God says, renounce our tendency to do things our way, and receive the one whom God sent to help us.”

Just trust Him.

Do you have any thoughts about this passage that you would like to share? Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, deity of Christ | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Ten Years of Darkened Glass Reflections

Photo from PxHere.

Today is a big day for Darkened Glass Reflections. It is the blog’s tenth anniversary. Its first article appeared on January 15, 2012.

Darkened Glass Reflections replaced my earlier blog, “Mike’s Blog,” which first appeared on WordPress on December 27, 2009. Admittedly, that was a quickly chosen and bland name. It did not tell you anything about the topic or focus of the articles, and let’s face it, there are many people named “Mike” out there. (A running joke in my family is that, at Lynch family gatherings, one of the women can yell “Hey Mike!” and all of the men turn around.)

Plans to replace or rename the blog began on August 9, 2010, when I published “Through a Glass Darkly,” a reflection on 1 Corinthians 13:12:

“For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known” (1 Corinthians 13:12, NASB).

The first post on Mike’s Blog, the predecessor of Darkened Glass Reflections. A devotion for the Feast of St. Stephen appeared two days later.

I thought this would be a clever title for the blog. Unfortunately, a quick search revealed that there was already a WordPress blog entitled “Through a Glass Darkly.” So, plans for a new name were shelved, but I wanted to use that phrase somehow.

A little over a year later, a spark of inspiration ignited a name change. While referring to an article as a “reflection” on a Bible passage, I realized several recurring themes suggested a new title. The message of 1 Corinthians 13:12 resonated in my soul and shaped much of what I was writing. Christians now know in part, our vision is dim and distorted, but eventually, we will know God fully in eternity. We are looking ahead; the committed disciple of Christ is living today with an eye on eternity (that became the new blog’s tag line). Most articles studied the Scriptures with a devotional, meditative perspective, making it easy to think of them as “reflections.” Also, Christians are called to be the light of the world as our lives reflect the ultimate true Light of the World, Jesus. From all of this, the title “Darkened Glass Reflections” popped into my head. I was thrilled when I saw that there was no other WordPress blog with that name, nor could I find anything else online with that title.

On January 15, 2012, I published the 42nd and final post on Mike’s Blog (announcing the birth of the new blog) and the first article on Darkened Glass Reflections. After posting consistently on Mike’s Blog, though, my output declined in the next few years. After publishing 19 articles in 2012, Darkened Glass Reflections featured only two new articles in 2013, one in 2014 (reacting to comedian Robin Williams’ suicide), and five in 2015. To be honest, discouragement was one reason for the declining output. I did not think anybody was reading and figured my time would be more wisely spent elsewhere.

However, in December 2015, WordPress sent an email summarizing the blog’s activity, and one article’s popularity encouraged me to keep going. Although readership was still small, it was growing: 319 hits in 2012, 505 in 2013, 1161 in 2014, and 1310 in 2015.

One article, in particular, was sparking growth. At some point, Google searches for the phrase “training in righteousness” had started directing readers to a post I wrote in December 2012, “Teaching, Reproof, Correction, and Training in Righteousness” (a devotion on 2 Timothy 3:16-17). A few friends confirmed that we were all seeing the same thing online: a Google query for “training in righteousness” provided a link to the Darkened Glass Reflections article near the top of its list, even appearing over an article from Christianity Today magazine. Sometime around September 2014, this article had started drawing readership. In 2014 and 2015, approximately 70% of the site’s readership was for that article.

The full photo that appears in the banner of Darkened Glass Reflections. Photo taken by Michael E. Lynch, at Graymoor Retreat Center, Garrison, NY, March 2016.

So, maybe my writing efforts were not in vain. If people were reading one article, perhaps more would come. In January 2016, I signed up for an online blogging course and attempted to publish at least one post per week, preferably on Sunday. Although I fell short, I did post 50 articles that year, after publishing 51 posts over the previous five years.

Gradually, readership grew. “Teaching, Reproof, Correction, and Training in Righteousness” remained the most-read article on Darkened Glass Reflections until 2019, although other articles started drawing more readers. In 2020, “Understanding the Deep Waters of the Heart,” a meditation on Proverbs 20:5 published in December 2017, took first place. Other articles were drawing readership as well.

By 2021, the weekly readership of Darkened Glass Reflections was often comparable to the entire year of 2012, and monthly readership occasionally exceeded the total for 2015.

Do not despise the day of small things (Zechariah 4:10). I hope that Darkened Glass Reflections continues to grow in readership in 2022 and that it may be used to bless people and draw them closer to Jesus. As with everything else we do for the Lord, my responsibility is to remain faithful and consistent in my writing and leave the results in God’s hands.

Finally, thank you to everybody who has followed Darkened Glass Reflections since it began. I hope you will keep reading and share it with your friends. God bless you always!

Do you have any thoughts you would like to share? Share your comments by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , | Leave a comment

The Word Became Flesh. I: An Introduction

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” [John 1:1; all Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Version (1995) unless otherwise indicated].

Stained glass depiction of Jesus and John the Baptist. Photo from PxHere under a Creative Commons CC0 license.

Over the past few days, much of the Christian Church world has celebrated the Feasts of the Epiphany (January 6) and the Baptism of Jesus (first Sunday after Epiphany, usually the third Sunday after Christmas). Epiphany celebrates the revelation of Jesus to the nations of the world. Its primary focus is on the coming of the wise men (Matthew 2:1-12); other recommended Scripture readings for the day speak of His ministry to the Gentiles (e.g., Matthew 12:14-21).

The baptism of Jesus, however, brings us back to the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, as He was revealed by God to the Jewish nation while being baptized by John the Baptist:

“Then Jesus arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. But John tried to prevent Him, saying, ‘I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?’ But Jesus answering said to him, ‘Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’ Then he permitted Him. After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased’” (Matthew 3:13-17).

The Gospels of Matthew and Luke begin by reporting Jesus’ miraculous birth; Luke includes the birth of John the Baptist. On the other hand, John’s Gospel begins before the dawn of time. The Word of God existed with the Father and was God. After that, John bounces his focus between two persons: the eternal Word of God, who became a man, Jesus Christ; and John the Baptist, who bore witness to the coming of the Word, Lord, and Messiah.

Many ministries urge new followers of Jesus to read the Gospel of John before any other book of the Bible. Those who read it for the first time would be wise to keep a few things in mind. First, John wrote with a different emphasis than the other Gospel writers. Matthew, Mark, and Luke read more like a historical account of His life. They record what He did, said, and how He died and rose. They present “just the facts” (as TV detective Joe Friday would say). Luke summarized his intentions:

“Inasmuch as many have undertaken to compile an account of the things accomplished among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and servants of the word, it seemed fitting for me as well, having investigated everything carefully from the beginning, to write it out for you in consecutive order, most excellent Theophilus; so that you may know the exact truth about the things you have been taught” (Luke 1:1-4).

In contrast, John has a much more stylized, subjective, and analytical approach. Whereas Matthew, Mark, and Luke try to be informative, John is admittedly trying to make a persuasive argument:

“Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:30-31).

This different purpose explains the substantial differences between John and the other three Gospels.

In this context, John began his Gospel by introducing Jesus as the Word of God, who existed before the world was created and through whom all things were created (John 1:3). Then, he skipped over the birth and childhood of Jesus (which Matthew and Luke thoroughly describe) and introduced the ministry of John the Baptist. Instead of focusing on his message of repentance, John summarized how his message bore witness to the coming of the Messiah.

Many of the key themes of John’s Gospel are introduced in John 1:1-18. These verses mention such concepts as light, life, grace, truth, belief, glory, and testimony or witness, and they frequently recur in later chapters. John 1:18 speaks of Jesus as “the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father.” John 13:23 speaks of a beloved disciple—most likely John himself—reclining near the bosom of Jesus at the Last Supper. The similar choice of wording is striking; perhaps John, thinking of his close friendship with Jesus, was attempting to compare it to Jesus’ intimacy with the Father. Maybe he wanted us to think that Jesus had intimately bound Himself with humanity just as He was already bound to the Father.

If you plan to read John’s Gospel all the way through for the first time, read the first chapter, especially the first 18 verses, slowly and carefully. They set the stage for the rest of the book.

In the coming weeks, I will share a few more meditations on John 1:1-18. The passage offers a lot of insight on the subject of Jesus’ deity. This post provides an introduction to this series of articles.

Do you have any thoughts about this passage that you would like to share? Share your thoughts or suggestions by clicking the “Leave a comment” link below.

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Bible meditations, Church Calendar: Holy Days and Seasons, deity of Christ | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Darkened Glass Reflections: Year in Review 2021

This post will share a summary of the articles posted on Darkened Glass Reflections during 2021 and the most popular articles on this site over the last year.

Forty-seven articles were published here in the past year. This was a decline from the last few years (62 articles in 2018; 52 in 2019 and 2020). However, the site enjoyed a substantial increase in visits. There were over 1000 hits every month (a streak that goes back to September 2020) for a total of 17,410 page views. This was a 54% increase over 2019. The blog has increased in readership every year since it began.

The following is a list of the most-read articles and pages on this blog over the last year. Unfortunately, WordPress counts all visits to the blog’s “Home Page/Archives” as a visit to the home page, even though the reader probably navigated there to read the latest article. So, visits to new articles may be undercounted. Nevertheless, the top 10 were:

If you have not read these articles before, I encourage you to take a look at them.

The most popular articles published here in 2021 (based on “likes” and total visits) are:

I would like to thank those of you who have read Darkened Glass Reflections faithfully over the years. I hope and pray you continue to join me on this journey. May God bless you always!

Copyright © 2022 Michael E. Lynch. All rights reserved.

Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: | Leave a comment

Create a website or blog at WordPress.com

%d bloggers like this: