Hello everybody and welcome in to episode #288 of the Bible 2021 podcast. We are reading John 1 today and our focus is on Is Jesus Really God? Was Jesus Created By God? When Did Jesus Begin? Where Was Jesus Born? Was the Bible Written To Convince People That Jesus Was God? We are a daily 10ish minute podcast, where we will dig in to the truth of the Word of God by reading one Bible chapter a day and discussing it. Welcome to new listeners in Our goal is to encourage DAILY Bible reading, so you can jump in at any time and join with us. We want to invite as many people as possible to join us in daily Bible reading, so help spread the word and share the podcast! Don’t forget about our web-page, Bible2021.com – contact page, show notes, transcript and more– Click here for our Bible 2021 reading plan\
Ok. This is going to be a bit of a long podcast, and I will try to make it up in the next two episodes. Not sure if I should apologize here, or what, but just wanted to let you know – we usually shoot for around ten minutes, and sometimes – like today, we fall short of that goal by going way over it. (That sentence was an homage of sorts to our guy John the Baptist, who says in this chapter, “‘The one coming after me ranks ahead of me, because he existed before me,” Which is a bit of a confusing line until you understand that Jesus is eternal, even though John was born on Earth first.)
In my last read through of the Gospel of John, I noticed something interesting that I’ve never heard anybody talk about, and I believe it is a significant point in favor of the Bible being genuine history and not an attempt to mislead, nor the results of a legend grown out of hand. Let me briefly explain. Editor’s note: Actually, in revisiting the transcript, I didn’t briefly explain, so let me ramble for a moment – I think this is important. Among those who don’t believe what the Bible says about Jesus, most would at least acknowledge that the New Testament documents the rise of the Christian church based on the teachings of a Jewish man named Jesus. I recognize that there are a very few scholars and a few skeptics who do not believe that Jesus existed at all, but the number of people who hold to that view is quite small, and it seems to be in the realm of denying the moon landing, or something like that – unwarranted skepticism. So most critical scholars would acknowledge the existence of Jesus and that the Bible records some actual history. They would, of course, differ on the more supernatural and spectacular claims of the Bible, including the miracles of Jesus and His resurrection, and the healings and miracles that accompanies the preaching of the Word by the apostles after Jesus ascended into Heaven. Most critical scholars seem to believe that either the New Testament represents an embellishment of the real facts of the historical Jesus’ life, or it represents a fraud committed by the writers of the New Testament, or some combination of both. Expressed another way, the majority of critical scholars who do not believe that Jesus rose from the dead or the other supernatural claims of the Bible must therefore conclude that the Bible is incorrect in all that it affirms, and very likely fraudulent at least in some ways – i.e. the Gospels are not written by eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection, the miracles recorded in the book of Acts by Luke either didn’t really happen, or they weren’t really recorded by first century eyewitness Luke, a companion of Paul, but somebody writing much later. Somehow, some way, there must be fraud, because the Bible claims the resurrection of Jesus happened and the miracles happened and all of these other things happened, and critical scholars say – no, those things did not happen.
And that means the Bible must somehow be fraudulent, and would have to be intentionally fraudulent based on 21st century standards. (For instance, ancients may not have considered pseudepigraphic works to be deception, current historians do)
The trouble with this is that the Bible doesn’t have many signs of fraud at all. For instance, the supposed writers of the letters and Gospels and histories usually come off as quite silly in many places, so that the only real hero and person to look up to is Jesus. Why do that if you are committing fraud? Or, as we’ve discussed before, why have women as the first witnesses of the resurrected Jesus in ALL of the gospels if you are trying to defraud and fool a culture who doesn’t value the testimony of women? Or, in the case of today’s passage: why does John not include a birth narrative of Jesus, showing that He was born in Bethlehem? Consider this little exchange in John 1:
43 The next day Jesus decided to leave for Galilee. He found Philip and told him, “Follow me.” 44 Now Philip was from Bethsaida, the hometown of Andrew and Peter. 45 Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the one Moses wrote about in the law (and so did the prophets): Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth.”46 “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” Nathanael asked him. “Come and see,” Philip answered. John 1:43-46
What’s the big deal? Nazareth was obviously looked down on in Jesus’ day, and most of the Bible scholars would have known that the Messiah/Christ would NOT come out of Nazareth, but Bethlehem. This explains Nathanael’s remark, but you know who DOES NOT explain Nathanael’s remark?? JOHN!! – Think about it -if the Gospel of John was an intentional fabrication – fraudulent in some ways, designed to mislead people about who Jesus was, and convince them that He wasn’t merely a man, but was the Messiah, why wouldn’t John have inserted a little extra dialog in this scene – where, instead of Philip saying, “come and see,” to Nathanael’s objection, he says something like, “Oh yeah, He lives in Nazareth now, but as we all know, He was BORN in Bethlehem!” Except, John doesn’t do that. And this isn’t the only time in John’s Gospel this issue comes up. There is an even BETTER place for John to tell His readers that Jesus, the Messiah, was born in Bethlehem, and that is in John 7:
40 When some from the crowd heard these words, they said, “This truly is the Prophet.” 41 Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some said, “Surely the Messiah doesn’t come from Galilee, does he? 42 Doesn’t the Scripture say that the Messiah comes from David’s offspring and from the town of Bethlehem, where David lived?” 43 So the crowd was divided because of him. John 7:40-43
HELLO, JOHN….wouldn’t this be a GREAT place to tell us that Jesus was born in Bethlehem? And yet – NOTHING. John gives us nary a word about Jesus’ true birthplace, he just lets the crowd’s misconception about Jesus just lay there with no corrections whatsoever. And wait, we’re not done yet, because the end of the chapter has yet another opportunity for the supposedly fraudulent author of John’s Gospel to jump in and make sure we know about Jesus’ birth, and this is one of my favorite stories in Scripture, even though it is short, and you have to kind of read between the lines. The chief priests and Pharisees send some guys to arrest Jesus, and they apparently go and listen to Him and come away spellbound and transformed, and there’s no way that they are going to arrest Jesus. John tells us about the follow up:
45 Then the servants came to the chief priests and Pharisees, who asked them, “Why didn’t you bring him?”46 The servants answered, “No man ever spoke like this!”47 Then the Pharisees responded to them, “Are you fooled too? 48 Have any of the rulers or Pharisees believed in him? 49 But this crowd, which doesn’t know the law, is accursed.”50 Nicodemus—the one who came to him previously and who was one of them—said to them, 51 “Our law doesn’t judge a man before it hears from him and knows what he’s doing, does it?” 52 “You aren’t from Galilee too, are you?” they replied. “Investigate and you will see that no prophet arises from Galilee.” John 7:45-52
I can hear the frustration in their voices, and I love it! But, that’s not the point- the point is the last thing they say -NO prophet arises from Galilee. Now, interestingly, those guys are wrong on THREE points, believe it or not. #1 There is NO Scripture that says “no prophet will arise from Galilee,” at least, not in the Old Testament. This is likely just bigotry in the form of city-bias – considering the people from the surrounding countryside as bumpkins, rubes, and outsiders. #2 There WAS a prophet from Galilee – Jonah, son of Amittai. And, #3. Jesus was NOT from Galilee – He was from Bethlehem, and this would have been the PERFECT time for John to tell us this – especially if the Gospel of John was a fraudulent document meant to dupe simpletons into believing that Jesus was the Messiah. Except – not only does John not tell us here that Jesus was from Bethlehem, He NEVER tells us. Which seems to make a strong argument that the Gospel of John is not actually an intentional fraud at all.
Now, that’s some apologetics thinking for you, and I hope you are more interested in it than my family was tonight at Bible time when I endeavored to explain it to them. But not, don’t worry, I want to close out with some wonderful words from Charles Spurgeon on a much GREATER truth about Jesus we see in John 1 – How Jesus was truly God and truly man and a REAL PERSON. Here’s Spurgeon:
John is especially careful that we should know that Jesus is a real and true Person, and therefore he tells us that the Divine Word, of whose fullness we have received, is most assuredly God.
No language can be more distinct and explicit than that which John uses concerning Jesus. He ascribes to Him the eternity which belongs alone to God: “In the beginning was the Word.” He beyond all question claims Divinity for Him: “The Word was God.” He ascribes to Him creative power: “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not any thing made that was made.” He ascribes to Him self-existence, which is the essential characteristic of God: “In Him was life.” He claims for Him a nature peculiar to God: “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all;” and he says that the Word is “the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.” No writer could be more definite in the expressions he uses; and beyond all question he sets forth the true and proper Deity of that Blessed One whom we all must receive if we would obtain eternal salvation.
Yet John does not fail to demonstrate that our Lord was also man. He saith, “the Word was made flesh,”—not merely assumed manhood, but was made flesh; made not merely man, as to His nobler part, His soul, but man as to His flesh, His lower element. Our Lord was not a phantom, but one who, as John declares in his first Epistle, could be seen, and heard, and touched, and handled.
“The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” He lived with the sons of men,—a carpenter’s shed His lowly refuge, and the caves and mountains of the earth His midnight resort in His after life. He dwelt among sinners and sufferers, among mourners and mortals, Himself completing His citizenship among us by becoming obedient unto death, “even the death of the cross.” Thus, while He is so august a person that Heaven and earth tremble at the majesty of His presence, yet is He so humble a person that He is not ashamed to call us “brethren.”
C. H. Spurgeon, Christ’s Incarnation: The Foundation of Christianity (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2009), 65–66. Slightly modernized
Bible Memory passage for the month of October: 7 Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 The one who does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8
Happy by Mike Leite https://soundcloud.com/mikeleite
Creative Commons — Attribution 3.0 Unported — CC BY 3.0
Free Download / Stream: https://bit.ly/al_happ