My friends, another clue arrived in my inbox last Thursday morning, a simple verse from John 1. But my spirit stirred and I knew the Holy Spirit was showing where to read next, where the next treasure hunt would begin.
I read the first five verses of the book of John several times, enamored by verse five:
The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. — John 1:5 NASB
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. — John 1:5 NLT
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. — John 1:5
Darkness (evil, the enemy) cannot overcome God's light (His presence), nor can it comprehend it. This is a foundational truth and the roots of our hope in Jesus. But the bigger treasure had yet to be found. The Holy Spirit nudged me on.
The first 18 verses of John 1 are like poetry. Abstract yet astonishing in their truth. I know I could never understand them without the help of the Holy Spirit to translate and reveal their meaning and hidden treasure. Much like the parables that Jesus spoke as He walked the earth, John 1:1-18 is the parable of Jesus—where He is, why He is, Who He is.
The connection of His identity is embedded in the Bible and in the Living Word of God. Jesus is the Word. My friends, this boggles my mind. As we read the Bible, we are reading Jesus. From Genesis to Revelations, He IS every word.
And I think we know this in the sense that we understand the whole Bible was written to establish Who He is, why He came, when He would come, and that He will return. But I want to propose something a little deeper here.
We know the power of God's Word, and I know I most likely sound like a broken record yet again in saying that reading, studying and "consuming" the Bible is key to everything in this life and even the next.
If we are to walk fully in our identity in Christ, we have to know Who He is in order to know who we are.
If we are to walk in the gifts of the Spirit, then we need to know how the Holy Spirit works in God's children by reading and "watching" how Jesus and His disciples did this. If we want to understand Abba Father and His will for His children, we must read the Bible to get a fuller and growing understanding of His character and His purposes for His children.
Simply put, the Bible is living and breathing, because it is Jesus. John says so right in those first 18 verses.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. — John 1:14 ESV
Jesus is the Word and the Word is Jesus. And yet there is more...
We are given the Word as a most precious gift. To read, cherish and yes, to even seek its treasures. One more I'd like to present that the Holy Spirit finally led me to. I love how He does this with such subtlety and heart. He gives me just enough to get started and allows me to make the discovery as He assists in connecting the dots. He is wise in His methods as He knows this is how we keep the truths we unearth and place them like trophies on the shelves of our faith lives—precious reminders of our steps of faith into greater victories.
And here is His latest reward in this search.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, — John 1:12 NASB
But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. — John 1:12 NLT
In the Greek translation, the word "right" used here is exousia and means power to act, authority. This goes so much deeper, my friends, for my first thought of this verse before digging deeper was it’s simply a title. Yet this verse from John reveals it's more. This "title" also comes with power and authority. Just as Luke said.
And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. — Luke 9:1-2 ESV
And He called the twelve together, and gave them power and authority over all the demons and to heal diseases. And He sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to perform healing. — Luke 9:1-2 NASB
Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. — Luke 10:19 ESV
Look, I have given you authority over all the power of the enemy, and you can walk among snakes and scorpions and crush them. Nothing will injure you. — Luke 10:19 NLT
It would be easy to, I think, to wind up with heads full of this heady power, yet John is clear as he continues to give the fuller picture. That as Jesus became human (while still fully God) and came to live among us, He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness (John 1:14), and that as the law was given through Moses, God's unfailing love and faithfulness came through Jesus (John 1:17).
Jesus reveals the Father to us, and His power and authority are balanced by His love and faithfulness.
They cannot be separated. Perhaps that is where we wind up stumbling and feeling ineffective, my friends. Power and authority without love is legalism. And love and faithfulness without the undergirding of this power and authority winds up self-powered, limited, then burned out (working in our own strength).
We talk a lot about God's love as I believe the Father's heart right now is for His children to know that we are loved beyond reason and understanding. But I sense a shift in His message coming that will help us embrace more fully not just who we are in Him but also what we are capable of being and doing with and through Him.
Study these verses, my friends, and ask the Holy Spirit to give you greater meaning and understanding of what the Father is empowering you to do as His precious child. I know the answers will inspire, bewilder, overwhelm and empower you, all in the best possible ways of His Son Jesus. Amen!