John 1:1-18 (NRSV)
Today marks the official beginning of the third round of presenting the Bible, chapter by chapter, passage by passage, in DWELLING. I published my first post, Genesis 1, on May 4, 2009, and since then we have read through the entire Scripture together, twice. As we are now leading into Advent and Christmas, I thought I would start not with Genesis, but with the Gospel of John. It is my daily prayer that this time in the Word together will cause our love of Jesus and faith in God to grow, by the enabling help of the Holy Spirit. Thank you for being a part of the DWELLING community.
John 20:30-31 (NIV)
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.
The Word Became Flesh
This remarkable, profound portion is not merely a preface or an introduction. It is a summation of the entire book. The remainder of John’s Gospel deals with the themes introduced here: the identity of the Word, life, light, regeneration, grace, truth, and the revelation of God the Father in Jesus the Son.
In the beginning was the Word,
Ancient Jewish rabbis often referred to God as “the word of God.” The Greek philosophers saw the logos (word) as the power which puts sense into the world, making the world orderly instead of chaotic. So here John says to both Jews and Greeks: “For centuries you’ve been talking, thinking, and writing about “the Word” (the logos). Now I will tell you who He is.”
and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God.
Here at the beginning John says three things about the word; which is to say that he says three things about Jesus.
- The word was already there at the very beginning things. John’s thought is going back to the first verse of the Bible. “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1). What John is saying is this–the word is not one of the created things; the word was there before creation. The word is not part of the world which came into being in time; the word is part of eternity and was there with God before time and the world began. John was thinking of what is known as the preexistence of Christ.
- John goes on to say that the word was with God. He means that always there has been the closest connection between the word and God. Really, there has always been the most intimate connection between Jesus and God. That means no one can tell us what God is like, what God’s will is for us, what God’s love and heart and mind are like, as Jesus can.
- Finally John says that the word was God John says the word was of the very same character and quality and essence and being as God. When John said the word was God he was not saying that Jesus was identical with God; he was saying that Jesus was so perfectly the same as God in mind, in heart, in being that in him we perfectly see what God is like.
3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people.
from Experiencing God Day-by-Day,
by Henry T. Blackaby and Richard Blackaby
LIFE AND LIGHT
When Jesus came to a world that was in bondage to darkness and dead in its sin, He came as light and life. His light dispelled sin’s darkness wherever He went, for the forces of evil could not withstand Him. The life He brought was abundant and free, available to all who were dead in their sin.
The fullness of life found in Christ dwells within you as a Christian (Colossians 1:27). The life Jesus offers is available to others through you. Don’t discount what you have to give to those who are hurting. Christ’s life within you is more than sufficient to meet every human need. When people encounter you, they encounter Christ within you. You do not know all the answers, but you have Someone within you who does! Be thankful God chooses to express Himself through you, giving light and life to those around you.
5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him.
The work of John the Baptist was deliberately focused on bringing people to faith in Jesus the Messiah.
8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.
1 John 3:1 (NIV)
See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!
John reminds us of the nature of the new birth: it is God’s gracious gift to us, not our achievement.
14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
Grace. It always has the idea of something completely undeserved. It always has the idea of something that we could never have earned or achieved for ourselves. The word grace emphasizes at one and the same time the helpless poverty of man and the limitless kindness of God. AND it always has the idea of beauty in it. In modern Greek the word means charm. In Jesus we see the sheer winsomeness of God. Men had thought of God in terms of might and majesty and power and judgment. But in Jesus men are confronted with the sheer loveliness of God.
Truth. Jesus is the embodiment of the truth. He said: “I am the truth” (John 14:6). To see truth we must look at Jesus. Jesus is also the communicator of the truth. He told his disciples that if they continued with him they would know the truth (John 8:31). He told Pilate that his object in coming into this world was to witness to the truth (John 18:37). Jesus is the one who, at the many crossroads of life, shows us the right way; who, in the baffling moments of decision, enables us to choose aright; who, amidst the many voices which clamour for our allegiance, tells us what to believe. And even when Jesus left this earth in the body, he left us his Spirit to guide us into the truth. His Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:17; John 15:26; John 16:13). Still, to this day, we can ask Jesus what to do, for his Spirit is with us every step of the way.
15(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.
One blessing after another:
- Everlasting life.
- Life-giving light.
- Inexhaustible grace.
- Absolute truth.
- Father’s heart love.
HERE — the St. Olaf Chorale performing “The Word Was God” by Rosephanye Powell (following a short piece The Glory of the Father by the Norwegian composer Egil Hovland).
Dr. Powell is an internationally recognized composer and arranger of sacred choral music and African-American spirituals. As the nation’s most published African-American female composer of choral music, her works have been published by major choral music publishers and have been performed by top choirs all around the world. She is also on the faculty at Auburn University.
Dr. Powell has said about this piece: “It is one of those songs that I really believe was inspired by God. In my time of study and meditation one day, I was just saying these words over and over again: “in the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God.” And as I continued to meditate upon that, all of a sudden a melody came and as the melody came I found myself unable to write fast enough to get all of the notes and the words down. So I really feel like that was one that God compelled, as He did with the disciples and Moses who wrote the word, and I followed His leading.”
1) Why, do you think, does the Gospel of John not begin with a (human) birth narrative, as Matthew and Luke do?
2) Compare John 1:1-18 to Genesis 1:1 – 2:3. What themes appear in both accounts? Do these similarities help you understand better who Christ is?