Every king needs a herald. Every victory needs a forerunner. Every Savior needs a prophet to prepare the way. Before Jesus started His earthly ministry, God raised up another man to prepare the people. John the Baptist was a distant cousin of Jesus. Born to two older parents who were most likely beyond childbearing years at the time of his birth, John’s life was destined by God and filled with purpose. He was a man with a special mission to fulfill and job to accomplish, and he executed his divine calling with excellence and boldness.
Living in the northern part of California in the winter, darkness is a very real thing—both literally and metaphorically. The days are short and darkness descends in the late afternoon/early evening. Add in stormy days and the gloom can become oppressive making the metaphoric darkness a real issue. Seasonal depression is a serious issue here and COVID has not helped in this department. But by far the spiritual darkness present is the most dangerous and rampant.
However, spiritual darkness is not just confined to remote, northerly parts of the globe during winter. It has been prevalent throughout the world since Adam and Eve’s fall in Genesis, and it continues to permeate every people, culture, society, and nation. No one is immune or can escape from the dark world we live in, and it is not something we can dispel in our own strength. However, light has come in the person of Jesus Christ.
God is often viewed as a distant being, separated and uninterested in the affairs of men and harshly critical of any transgression. Since the beginning of time, humanity has sought after God. While many today in our post-modern world would deny this fact, the reality remains that mankind has always searched for something greater than themselves.
As we kick off our study in the first six chapters of John, I am reminded of a line from Sound of Music: “Let’s start at the very beginning, a very good place to start.” There are four Gospels that recount the life and story of Jesus and His time on earth. Each one starts at a different place. Matthew starts with Abraham. Mark jumps right in with John the Baptist. And Luke, the historian, starts when God’s silence was first broken in the temple with Zachariah.
However, John starts his gospel completely different. Instead of starting the story with a person, event, or time in history, he goes back even further. John starts his book at the very beginning.