The Cosmic And The Molecular

Saturday, February 8, 2014
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Listen while you read: "How Firm A Foundation"1 (Lyrics)

I discovered recently that one of the strategies used to tuck a large amount of information into human memory is to visualize an imaginary "memory house" where each room gives a place to store specific, important details. In preparation for discussions about the Gospel of John at our adult Bible study group, I set out to construct a memory house with a room for each of the twenty-one chapters in the book.

As I tried to imagine a structure depicting an overall impression of John's Gospel, I remembered the movie from my senior-year, high-school chemistry class showing orders of magnitude. The movie opened with a view of the universe in outer space, progressively shrank the view until it showed a suburban street scene, took the viewers underground into plant roots, and showed pictures of individual cells, then cell parts. I thought I was constructing an imaginary house to enhance memory, but I was reminded of our marvellous, intricate, complex universe!

Storytellers often begin with a bird's-eye view, then take their audience to smaller details. Upon reflection, I was amazed. John, with his writing in the Gospel, moved me through all the orders of magnitude from the cosmic to the molecular, and then back to the cosmic.

John began his story of Jesus from the broadest view:

John 1:1-4 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. (NIV 2011)

The molecular aspect of John's Gospel arises from individuals having life in Christ's name. Living in Christ's name gives us light for the very essence of our lives, inclusive of the molecules that make up our cells. So, in much of the book, John gives intimate eyewitness accounts of Jesus' effects on people. He tells us about Jesus on the ground through his eyes. John wrote about seven "signs" (or miracles) of Christ's ministry and reported that many people believed after witnessing these "signs".

Then, at the very end of his Gospel, John zooms back out to the cosmic viewpoint, when he states his purpose for writing:

John 20:30-31 – Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. (NIV 2011)

John 21:25 – Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written. (NIV)

I pray that this gives you an overview of John's Gospel to hang the details on when you read it through.

Prayer: Father, Abba-Daddy in heaven, we give thanks for our Bibles and for John's testimony of the Messiah. Let John's message about Jesus soak in and touch every part of our lives, then flow out and touch the lives of others. In the name of Christ, we ask. Amen.

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About the author:

Pat Bell <>
Owen Sound, Ontario, Canada

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1 Comment

  • PresbyCan Feedback says:

    Thanks Pat for the good word.

    Thanks for this beautiful message and prayer. It shows us what love really means.

    Pat – this was very interesting. It reminded me that Jesus is holding all things together (Colossians 1:17). Louie Giglio talks about the cross in our body.

    Wow! Thank you. Your brainy approach is just what I needed to send on to my PHD grandsons who have become too “educated” to be willing to accept the gospel message any more.
    Bless you.

    Dear Pat Bell,
    Amen to a precious message.
    Our Lord is both near, and far and all the way between.
    Wither shall I go and not be in his presence with him. He is always present.
    Keep writing.

    Thank you Pat for your message today. The timing of its truth was perfect. God’s truth is the breath of fresh air we all need. It is new each time we read it as we experience him more every day or hour. It is alive to the perishing, the answer to every question, and is available for every question we have. Some times the pastor’s don’t know our answers because they haven’t experienced what we individually have. God is always there with the answer we need.

    Good morning Pat:
    Thank you for your insightful devotional regarding The Cosmic And The Molecular. The concept is good for those who can visualize images in their minds. I can’t, so I must rely on other methods to recall bible concepts.
    In your prayer you use the English, Father, regarding our heavenly father, and that’s appropriate. But you added the Hebrew, Abba. Jesus (Mark 14:36), and Paul (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6) both understood and spoke Hebrew, so it’s evident that they should use Abba. But Hebrew is not your mother tongue, is it? So why use it?
    There’s another consideration in your prayer, and that is the use of the noun Daddy. Paul wrote, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).”
    In using Daddy, are you implying you normally speak, understand, and think as a child? Your devotional indicates otherwise.
    Indeed, we all are children of God, and so was Paul. But when he grew up he spoke, understood, and thought in mature ways.
    Let’s relegate Daddy to the same ancient dictionary as Thee and Thou and Thine.

    Insightful indeed!! Thank you!!

    Hi Pat,
    Thanks for giving your insight into John’s Gospel. We’re looking forward to doing a study in March. Keep writing. I love what you write!!! God bless always.

    I often say that Stephen Hawkins’ Big Bang Theory, is just a way of describing the need for a Creator God to light the fuse and set it off in the beginning!

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