the Word present to God,
God present to the Word.
The Word was God,
in readiness for God from day one.
3–5 Everything was created through him;
nothing—not one thing!—
came into being without him.
What came into existence was Life,
and the Life was Light to live by.
The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness;
the darkness couldn’t put it out.
6–8 There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
9–13 The Life-Light was the real thing:
Every person entering Life
he brings into Light.
the world was there through him,
and yet the world didn’t even notice.
but they didn’t want him.
who believed he was who he claimed
and would do what he said,
He made to be their true selves,
their child-of-God selves.
14 The Word became flesh and blood,
and moved into the neighborhood.
We saw the glory with our own eyes,
the one-of-a-kind glory,
like Father, like Son,
Generous inside and out,
true from start to finish.
15 John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”
16–18 We all live off his generous bounty,
gift after gift after gift.
and then this exuberant giving and receiving,
This endless knowing and understanding—
all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.
not so much as a glimpse.
This one-of-a-kind God-Expression,
who exists at the very heart of the Father,
has made him plain as day.
19–20 When Jews from Jerusalem sent a group of priests and officials to ask John who he was, he was completely honest. He didn’t evade the question. He told the plain truth: “I am not the Messiah.”
21 They pressed him, “Who, then? Elijah?”
“I am not.”
22 Exasperated, they said, “Who, then? We need an answer for those who sent us. Tell us something—anything!—about yourself.”
23 “I’m thunder in the desert: ‘Make the road straight for God!’ I’m doing what the prophet Isaiah preached.”
24–25 Those sent to question him were from the Pharisee party. Now they had a question of their own: “If you’re neither the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet, why do you baptize?”
26–27 John answered, “I only baptize using water. A person you don’t recognize has taken his stand in your midst. He comes after me, but he is not in second place to me. I’m not even worthy to hold his coat for him.”
28 These conversations took place in Bethany on the other side of the Jordan, where John was baptizing at the time.
29–31 The very next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and yelled out, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb! He forgives the sins of the world! This is the man I’ve been talking about, ‘the One who comes after me but is really ahead of me.’ I knew nothing about who he was—only this: that my task has been to get Israel ready to recognize him as the God-Revealer. That is why I came here baptizing with water, giving you a good bath and scrubbing sins from your life so you can get a fresh start with God.”
32–34 John clinched his witness with this: “I watched the Spirit, like a dove flying down out of the sky, making himself at home in him. I repeat, I know nothing about him except this: The One who authorized me to baptize with water told me, ‘The One on whom you see the Spirit come down and stay, this One will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’ That’s exactly what I saw happen, and I’m telling you, there’s no question about it: This is the Son of God.”
35–36 The next day John was back at his post with two disciples, who were watching. He looked up, saw Jesus walking nearby, and said, “Here he is, God’s Passover Lamb.”
37–38 The two disciples heard him and went after Jesus. Jesus looked over his shoulder and said to them, “What are you after?”
They said, “Rabbi” (which means “Teacher”), “where are you staying?”
39 He replied, “Come along and see for yourself.”
They came, saw where he was living, and ended up staying with him for the day. It was late afternoon when this happened.
40–42 Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard John’s witness and followed Jesus. The first thing he did after finding where Jesus lived was find his own brother, Simon, telling him, “We’ve found the Messiah” (that is, “Christ”). He immediately led him to Jesus.
Jesus took one look up and said, “You’re John’s son, Simon? From now on your name is Cephas” (or Peter, which means “Rock”).
43–44 The next day Jesus decided to go to Galilee. When he got there, he ran across Philip and said, “Come, follow me.” (Philip’s hometown was Bethsaida, the same as Andrew and Peter.)
45–46 Philip went and found Nathanael and told him, “We’ve found the One Moses wrote of in the Law, the One preached by the prophets. It’s Jesus, Joseph’s son, the one from Nazareth!” Nathanael said, “Nazareth? You’ve got to be kidding.”
But Philip said, “Come, see for yourself.”
47 When Jesus saw him coming he said, “There’s a real Israelite, not a false bone in his body.”
48 Nathanael said, “Where did you get that idea? You don’t know me.”
Jesus answered, “One day, long before Philip called you here, I saw you under the fig tree.”
49 Nathanael exclaimed, “Rabbi! You are the Son of God, the King of Israel!”
50–51 Jesus said, “You’ve become a believer simply because I say I saw you one day sitting under the fig tree? You haven’t seen anything yet! Before this is over you’re going to see heaven open and God’s angels descending to the Son of Man and ascending again.”
About The Message: The Bible in Contemporary Language
Many people assume that a book about a holy God should sound elevated, stately, and ceremonial. If this is how you’ve always viewed the Bible, you’re about to make a surprising discovery. The Message brings the life-changing power of the New Testament, the vibrant passion of the Psalms, and the rich, practical wisdom of Proverbs into easy-to-read modern language that echoes the rhythm and idioms of the original Greek and Hebrew. Written in the same kind of language you’d use to talk with friends, write a letter, or discuss politics, The Message preserves the authentic, earthy flavor and the expressive character of the Bible’s best-loved books. Whether you’ve been reading the Bible for years or are exploring it for the first time, The Message will startle and surprise you. And it will allow you to experience firsthand the same power and directness that motivated its original readers to change the course of history so many centuries ago.
Copyright 2005 Eugene H. Peterson.
THE MESSAGE text may be quoted in any form (written, visual, electronic, or audio), up to and inclusive of five hundred (500) verses, without express written permission of the publisher, NavPress Publishing Group, providing the verses quoted do not amount to a complete book of the Bible and do not account for 25 percent or more of the total text of the work in which they are quoted.
Notice of copyright must appear as follows on either the title page or the copyright page of the work in which THE MESSAGE is quoted: “Scripture taken from THE MESSAGE. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.”
When quotations from THE MESSAGE text are used in nonsaleable media, such as church bulletins, orders of service, posters, transparencies, or similar media, a complete copyright notice is not required, but “The Message” must appear at the end of each quotation.
Permission requests for commercial and noncommercial use that exceed the above guidelines must be directed to and approved in writing by NavPress Publishing Group, Permissions, P.O. Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935.