Unlike Matthew and Luke, John does not begin his gospel with stories about the birth of Jesus Christ. He starts much earlier. Quoting the first words in the Old Testament, John begins with the words, “In the beginning…” He calls Jesus “the Word,” linking Him directly with the method by which God created the world: a series of verbal commands. Then, he identifies the Savior Himself as the Creator: “All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3).
After establishing the Savior’s divine premortal identity, John describes the impact He had on His earliest disciples. He quotes the testimony of John the Baptist that Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, see also 2 Nephi 2:6), that He can give us “power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12, see also 3 Nephi 9:17), and that we can receive “of his fulness…grace for grace” (John 1:16, see also Helaman 12:24). Then, he describes the domino effect of that testimony, as two disciples of John, then Peter, then Philip, and finally Nathanael come to recognize the divinity of Jesus.
Here are some principles I’ve learned from this chapter with Book of Mormon connections and links to relevant blog posts:
1. Under the direction of the Father, Jesus created the world.
John said, “All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). In the Book of Mormon, King Benjamin prophesied that He would be called “Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Father of heaven and earth, the Creator of all things from the beginning”(Mosiah 3:8), and Samuel the Lamanite later referred to Him using the exact same sequence of titles (Helaman 12:14). After the destruction which coincided with His death, when the people heard His voice, He introduced Himself by saying, “I am Jesus Christ the Son of God. I created the heavens and the earth, and all things that in them are” (3 Nephi 9:15).
Here is a blog post about the implications of this principle for each of us:
2. Jesus Christ is the light of the world.
Isaiah prophesied, “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light” (Isaiah 9:2, 2 Nephi 19:2). John said, “In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness” (John 1:4-5). President Russell M. Nelson explained, “The increasing darkness that accompanies tribulation makes the light of Jesus Christ shine ever brighter” (“Hear Him,” General Conference, April 2020).
Here are some blog posts about the light that Jesus brings into our lives:
- “The People That Walked in Darkness” – 2 Nephi 19:2
- This Shall Be unto You for a Sign – Helaman 14:3-5
- Light (things we can do to invite His light into our lives)
3. Grace is a fundamental characteristic of the Savior.
Lehi tells us that the Messiah is “full of grace and truth,” echoing the words of John (2 Nephi 2:6, John 1:14). Alma adds two additional characteristics to this list: mercy (Alma 5:48), and equity (Alma 9:26, Alma 13:9).
We can be grateful that the Savior is willing to provide the assistance we desperately need. John teaches us that we receive “grace for grace” (John 1:16). I think that means that we receive the abundant blessings of God by striving to emulate His goodness. As we give grace to others by our good works, we receive His grace.
Here are some blog posts on this topic:
4. Jesus fulfilled the symbolism of the sacrificial lamb.
Lehi prophesied that John the Baptist would “bear record that he had baptized the Lamb of God, who should take away the sins of the world” (1 Nephi 10:10). Thereafter, Nephi, Alma, and Moroni all refer to Jesus as the “Lamb of God.”
The only place that title appears in the Bible is in John chapter 1. On two occasions, as John sees Jesus approaching, he says to the people with him, “Behold the Lamb of God.” On the first occasion, he adds, “which taketh away the sin of the world” (John 1:29, 36).
The symbolism of a lamb had deep significance in Israelite history and religious practice. For example, deliverance from the tenth plague in Egypt (the passover) required the death of a lamb “without blemish” (Exodus 12:5). Here are two blog posts about the significance of this symbol: