Reading the New Testament (Week 3)

This week’s reading is John 1. the first chapter of my favorite Gospel. (Sometime I should try to articulate why it’s my favorite.)

A quick note about the author: Before his apostolic ministry, John was a fisherman by trade. It was the family business, which was successful enough that they had “hired servants” (Mark 1:20).

John 1

John 1:1-5

Here are the first words of John’s book:

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The same was in the beginning with God.

All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men.

And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. (KJV John 1:1-5)

It’s practically poetry, but what does it mean? We’ll turn shortly to the Joseph Smith Translation (JST) for help, but first let’s make what we can of the King James Version (KJV).

Short Take: “And Lifted Him Up”

Author's Note
My neighbor and I, among others, are writing short columns for our monthly ward (congregation) newsletter, focusing on the New Testament in 2015. Here’s my “short take” for August.

“Now Peter and John went up together into the temple . . . And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple . . . to ask alms of them that entered into the temple; Who seeing Peter and John . . . asked an alms.”

There is already admirable service here; consider the nameless good people who took the crippled man to the temple every day.

Peter and John stopped, and Peter spoke to the beggar. “Look on us,” he said. The man must have been looking elsewhere, even after asking for money – perhaps in shame or because he had he given up on Peter and John and was watching for his next prospect. There is nothing to suggest that he knew Peter and John, but he looked at them expectantly when Peter spoke.

Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.”

An impressive miracle is not the end here. What happened next is a lesson to all who would lead or teach or serve. “[Peter] took him by the right hand, and lifted him up” (Acts 3:1-7).

Peter did not confine his service to healing the man in Jesus’ name and telling him what to do. He reached down and helped him up.

In our ministries it is not enough to assure people that they can do something they’ve never done before, or haven’t done in a long time, or haven’t been doing well. Even powerful words are not enough. We must also act.

Then, if we’re to follow Peter and John’s example, having lifted someone up, we must also welcome his company.

“And he leaping up stood, and walked, and entered with them into the temple” (Acts 3:8). After healing this man and helping him to stand, Peter and John allowed him to accompany them into the temple, though he was still, no doubt, dressed like a beggar.