The Pre-Existent Word
Most of our mental pictures of Jesus owe more to artistic creativity than to biblical theology. The Bible gives us no physical description of Christ other than that He “increased … in stature” (Luke 2:52). It’s extremely unhelpful for us, then, to imagine Him with blond hair and striking blue eyes, as many in Western culture have done. Such a picture not only fails to remember that He was a Middle-Eastern Jew; it also prevents us from understanding and enjoying the awesome way in which the Gospel of John introduces Him.
From the very first verse, John tells us of Christ’s eternality, His personality, and His deity. No matter how far back we consider the beginning of time to be and no matter what model we may have in our minds of how time began, there we will find the preincarnate Son of God. He was not created, for He is the Creator. The child in the manger was the very same person who put the stars in the sky—including the very star which led the wise men from the east to come and worship Him.
In His eternality, this Word, Jesus, is distinct from the Father and from the Spirit, not in essence but in person. He “was with God,” yet He “was God.” Though it may sound puzzling, John wasn’t writing in abstractions. He was presenting a person he had met, seen, heard, and touched. The stage is set for readers to say with the apostle, “The life was made manifest, and we have seen it” (1 John 1:2), because that’s the power of God’s living Word.
In asserting the reality that Christ was not only with God but was God, John wants us to read his whole Gospel with Jesus’ deity in mind. When we turn each page, read Jesus’ words, and observe His deeds, we are supposed to see that they’re the very words and deeds of God Himself.
If Jesus was simply a good man, then what we read in John’s Gospel is ultimately blasphemous. But He is more than a man. He was, is, and forever will be one with the God of all creation. We need to understand John’s opening verses in order to truly grasp who Jesus is so that we can, in the words of Bruce Milne, “worship him without cessation, obey him without hesitation, love him without reservation, and serve him without interruption.” If you are finding it hard to worship, obey, love, or serve the Lord today, here is the answer: look at Him. For the better we understand that the Word who lay in the manger was the Word who was with God and was God from the beginning, the more naturally we will find our Christian duties turning to joys.
The Word Became Flesh
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life,1 and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own,2 and his own people3 did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.4 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God,5 who is at the Father's side,6 he has made him known.
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