the BIG story: John 1:1-14

Half way through Lent and half way through the Bible!

The first five verses of John’s gospel show Jesus Christ be to the source of life and light — the very opposite of the spiritual condition of the world.

He is the “Word.” It is the Greek term logos. He is the full expression of the Godhead, the Alpha and Omega. He is the complete revelation of God. He is the first word of creation, and the last word of Revelation.

In the Old Testament, God was described frequently in human terms. The writers described God as if he had hands and feet, or ears and eyes; he was said to laugh, ridicule, turn his back, come down for a closer look. They are figures of speech to help us understand what God is like. But in Jesus all those “words” became literally and historically true: God did come down to earth, and as Jesus he did have ears and eyes and hands and feet. So he is called the “Incarnate Word, the revelation of God in human flesh.

John offers many insights into Jesus, the Word:

1. He was in the beginning.
Literally, the text says: “He was in beginning.” Before anything else, before even the creation, the Son of God was there. He is beyond time; he is eternal.

2. He was with God. 
Before time began the Father and Son were together as one, a relationship that is unparalleled in existence.

3. He was God. 
The Son was not just a divine creature, a heavenly creature, a lesser god-among-many, a creation who became a god. He was God, equal with the Father and the Spirit. Jesus Christ is both divine and eternal.

4. He created everything that exists. 
The Word reveals the Father, but the initial revelation of the Father is the creation, for the heavens declare the glory of God (Ps 19).  God the Father is the creator, and now we learn that creation was done by the Son. Every work of God involves the entire Godhead, for while there are three persons in the Godhead there is one God. For every work, the Father decrees it, the Son does it, and the Spirit enables it to be done.

The Son is the agent of creation. Nothing exists that was not made by him. But it came from the Father’s decree; and it was accomplished through the Spirit’s hovering over the deep and preparing for creation (Gen. 1:2).

The means or creation was the spoken word of God. “And God said” occurs ten times in Gen 1. As God commanded nature and all forms of life, the different parts of creation came into existence or took form. John is telling us that it was the living Word, Jesus Christ, who spoke the creative word in Genesis.

There is a more profound point being made to about Genesis 1 and John 1.  “Let there be”, in the Hebrew, is the shortened spelling of the verb “to be” which in the longer spelling is the holy name “Yahweh,” which the LORD interpreted to Moses to mean “I AM.” So John indicates that the Word of God created everything; and in Genesis the I AM was the One who said “Let there be,” and “there was.”  And now has coming as Jesus Christ: “I am the way, the truth, and the life”; “I came that they might have life”; “I am the resurrection and the life”. Not only did the Son of God create life, he holds it together by his powerful word (Heb. 1:2), and he is able to give it again if we should die (John 11). He is life, in the fullest sense of the term. There is no life without him.

5. He is the light
Light was the first thing created in Genesis – “Let there be light.” Its purpose was to dispel the darkness that covered the earth. And so light became a symbol of God, his nature, his reign over the earth. Those who remained in darkness, meaning sin, oppression, war, and gloom, Isaiah predicted, would see a great light (Isa. 9:2) in the region of Galilee of the nations. Jesus came preaching in Galilee, announcing, “I am the light of the world.” Light represents life and understanding, or the truth. He came to reveal the Father, and by so doing guide people in the way of righteousness.

This is the doctrine of incarnation.  Word took flesh and “tabernacled” among us – pitched his tent. The background, of course, is the Israelite experience in the wilderness with their tabernacle or tent of meeting. Once Israel put up the tent, the glory of the LORD entered it and dwelt among them, concealed from their view by the tenting. The cloud that had represented God’s presence through the wilderness now was dwelling in Jesus. The flesh of Jesus is like that tent, both enabling the glorious Lord to dwell among his people and concealing his glory from their view.

And they saw his glory! Usually this refers to the transfiguration (Matt 17, Rev 1). But it also means that they witnessed his life. They saw the miracles, heard the teachings, witnessed the death, and celebrated the resurrection appearances. The glory they saw was the glory of the only begotten of the Father, and the resurrection declared that once and for all.

Without this incarnate Son of God, there is no salvation, no hope, no light or life.

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