It has often been called the Genesis of the New Testament. Within its words, humanity is taken back to a time before time. As readers wade into its bold statements, life-changing, life-giving truths, and sobering reminders, they are brought to a point of challenge. A decision must be made. The passage does not lend itself to neutrality.
The scripture for this week is John 1:1-3. Take a moment and turn to the Gospel of John. Read the opening words and be taken back to that time before time. Hear in John’s prologue the words of Genesis 1:1 — “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” As well, read John’s proclamation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
In John 1:1, the apostle, writing under the direction of the Holy Spirit, takes the reader to a starting point. It is an essential in understanding about and responding to Jesus Christ.
As Jesus faced angry accusers, just hours before His sacrificial and atoning death, He was asked who He was (Matthew 26:65). Prior to that terrible day, Jesus asked His closest followers who they thought He was (Matthew 16:15). John begins this Gospel with the proclamation that will, in the minds of the believer, put to rest the question: Who is Jesus?
First, Jesus is identified as the Word. In the original language, Greek, this word is “logos.” For the Greek, the “logos” was the wisdom behind creation (“kosmos”). To the Jew, it is the creative power of God’s words. John helps us understand that this is who Jesus is. He is the wisdom and power that brought forth all that is. Not that Jesus is simply some attribute of God — no, we will read in a moment that Jesus is not that — but rather, that these are attributes of Jesus.
Next, within this understanding are two foundational truths about Jesus. Truth 1: Jesus is eternal. John says that He was there when everything started. Jesus is not part of creation — he transcends it.
In their culture, Jews revered old age. They understood that with years came wisdom. They understood that for one to become wise, they had to exchange their youth. Thus, Jesus being eternal then presupposes that He is full of truth.
That night in the upper room, when Jesus told of His impending death, He reminded His men that He was the source of truth. As well, Jesus being eternal is a reminder that He is not hampered or hindered by time and space.
Which brings us to Truth 2: Jesus is not human — He is God.
John wanted his reader to know that when the time was full, when everything was just as God prepared it to be (Galatians 4:4), God did not send His best representative. God did not send His mightiest angel, His smoothest messenger, His brightest salesman. No, God did not send anyone — He came Himself. It had to be this way. From the time God spoke this ol’ ball into existence, He knew that a perfect sacrifice would have to die to redeem humanity. He also knew that He would be that sacrifice.
Now, to be honest, I do not know how the Trinity works, how God is three persons, yet one (John 1:2). The Bible teaches that it is so, and I believe that it is so — I just don’t know quite how to get my brain around it.
Despite that, John opens this Gospel with the proclamation that Jesus is eternal and God and — one more thing — He is our Creator.
Jesus is Creator? Yep — and note that John 1:3 reminds us that all that is created was created by Him. Everything — from the tiniest molecule of protein to those vast galaxies uncovered by the Hubbell space telescope — was created by Jesus.
Now, this is where the big question comes in: So what? What difference does it make is Jesus is the eternal Creator-God?
First, if Jesus is God, then the sacrifice that would make it possible for you or me to become part of God’s family was a perfect sacrifice.
Next, if Jesus is eternal, then there is nothing He has not seen, no situation that He has not faced. So the next time I think that this caught God off-guard, or that He’s confronted with something He doesn’t know about, I just need to remember that there is no such thing with God.
Finally, if Jesus is Creator, is He not sovereign (Lord, boss, owner of all things) by right of creation? That’s not hard to grasp, is it? We use copyrights and patents to say, “I wrote (or invented) this. It belongs to me.” Jesus created us. So we belong to Him.
Lest we think this a bad thing, remember that He chose to come down and walk in this world with us. Imagine, every breath Jesus breathed was air He had created. Every warm ray of sunlight and soft moonlit night was part of what He did on the fourth day of creation. Every drop of water, bite of apple, slice of bread that He consumed, He also created.
Even more, every person He talked to, healed and died for (that would be everyone then and now), He formed.
He came to us to die for us. The eternal, Creator-God, the Logos, loved us so much that He traded heaven for earth, a throne for a manger, the robes of eternity for a tent of flesh and blood and bone with one purpose in mind — to invite us to His place and then make it possible for us to come.
That’s John 1:1-3. What will you do with it?
Even more, what will you do with the Logos?
Next week: The light and the life (John 1:3-9).