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ABIDE – A Remarkably Compelling Opening – John 1:1-5 (Brian Onken)

John 1:1-5

A Remarkably Compelling Opening

Speaker: Brian Onken

The opening lines of a book or movie should be compelling – drawing us in, and making us wonder.

John does the same in his gospel, and it is wise for us to ask, “What does John want me to know?”

There is a tendency to become inattentive toward what is familiar to us. We often import what we already know from other passages to our reading of the one in front of us. “Oh, we know this refers to Jesus,” for example. And the result might be that we will miss what is actually in the text we are reading!

In John 1:1-5, he has not yet told us that Jesus is this Word. But what he does tell us is:

IN THE BEGINNING: the time period, the beginning of everything

WAS THE WORD: the Word was already there

AND THE WORD WAS WITH GOD: the Word was not just an object. It was Someone who had a relationship with God.

AND THE WORD WAS GOD: What God is was what this Word is.

HE WAS IN THE BEGINNING WITH GOD: He was always there, from the beginning. There was never a time when the word came into being. He has always been.


IN HIM WAS LIFE: Life has its root and foundation in Him. Everything.

AND THE LIFE WAS THE LIGHT OF MEN: This Life is also, in some way, the Light of life. All mankind is impacted by this light.

THE LIGHT SHINES IN THE DARKNESS, AND THE DARKNESS HAS NOT OVERCOME IT: Although this Light does shine in the darkness, the darkness has not, and will not overcome Him.

This passage can leave us with so many questions. Who is this Word? How can I meet this One? Can this Word give me life? What does this mean? John provides no answers at this point, just truth about the Word. We end up taking away more questions than answers, and that is not a bad thing!

We won’t be enriched by this journey through John if we enter it with the attitude, “I already know this.” If we don’t start well, allowing John to raise such questions in order to draw us more deeply into what he wants us to know, we will likely miss the truth John wants us to hear.

Let’s welcome the questions, asking the Spirit for guidance and fresh insight into what we will find in the book of John.


1. What assumptions do you bring into the reading of this passage that come from what you think you already know? Re-read the passage several times this week, intentionally leaving what you already know, behind.

2. What questions does this passage raise for you?

3. Which part of this passage is most impactful for you?

4. Look at 1 John 1:1-3. What do you notice about how John begins his epistle vs. how he begins his gospel account?

5. Are you becoming comfortable being uncomfortable? Why or why not?

ABIDE – A Remarkably Compelling Opening – John 1:1-5 (Brian Onken)

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