Day 285 “God, The Word” John 1:1 – 2:12
October 12, 2021, 10:07 AM

Day 285 “God, The Word” John 1:1 – 2:12

John’s gospel is very different than the first three. I’ve referred to them as ‘synoptic’—to break that down ‘syn’ means ‘the same’, and ‘optic’ means ‘to see’. To put it together, the first three gospels are ‘seem with the same eyes’, but John’s gospel is different. The tone is different, the focus is different and some of the events are unique to John alone.

Note also that John the evangelist is NOT John the Baptist. This can be confusing because John the evangelist writes about John the Baptist early on, but the evangelist is simply telling the story about the Baptist. Remember that John the Baptist was beheaded before Jesus’s crucifixion and resurrection and so could not have written an extensive eye witness account of the full life of Jesus the way our evangelist friend has done.

Scholars have largely agreed that this writer is ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved’—young John who say close by Jesus at the Passover table, and also the same disciple, the only disciple of the original twelve, who stayed with Jesus through his crucifixion. Remember the words spoken by Jesus on the cross? In John 19 Jesus will directly address his mother from the cross “Woman, here is your son,” and to John (or the disciple Jesus loved) he says “Here is your mother,” (19: 27).

John’s gospel has no birth narrative, no genealogy. His focus is to have us see Jesus in relationship with the father, with God, and to make clear both the divine nature of Jesus, and his humanity. These are mysteries at the center of our faith that John addresses. The word mystery simply means ‘hidden’ and it is connected, by root meaning, to the word ‘sacramentum’, or sacrament. Jesus is a central sacrament of our faith, not like Eucharist or Baptism, but as the divine mystery that encompasses both of those, and all places where God’s presence touches the human world. A sacrament, in our tradition, is defined as an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace, and that can help us potentially understand Jesus’s place in our world even today.

As John begins his narrative, he begins with familiar words “In the beginning…” (1:1). Our minds go back to the very first words of our scriptures, the words we read in January of 2021 as we started our great bible adventure in the book of Genesis: “In the beginning…” John does this on purpose to help us immediately connect to the eternal nature of Jesus’s presence on the earth. He uses that curious and basic word, “Word”, to describe who Jesus is. The first 5 verses describe the co-existence of the Word with God, as if this Word was a person. We know that it is, that this Word IS God, and that the Word is Jesus.

Why would John use that term? Let me riff on that for a bit. First of all, how did God create the universe and all its elements? God spoke them into existence. “And God said…” creates the creation of creation. I did that on purpose because that was a very John-like. His language has a poetic quality, and he refers to Jesus immediately as divine, an emphasis that we will see John continue throughout his gospel. That does not in any way take away the humanity of Jesus. We have only to turn to the crucifixion to remind ourselves in each of the gospels about the humanity of Jesus.

This idea of ‘word’ is translated from the original Greek word that would have been read as ‘Logos’—forgive me if you already know this, but I remember that when I learned this I felt like my understanding of Jesus grew astronomically. The word Logos refers to a Greek concept about the organizing principle of the universe. For Greeks, at the very center of the universe is a mystery, a word that refers to the action that shaped, ordered and directed the universe. Basically Logos is the verb that creates and manages the universe. This would have absolutely captured the minds of the Greeks, who were gentiles (non-Jews) focused on the reasoned order of the world. But John does something completely different here—he gives flesh, physical form to this verb, this action word. He connects the deepest mystery of the universe to the literal physical person of Jesus, answering for all the time the mystery of Logos for the Greeks. With God, Jesus is the ordering principle of the universe. With God, Jesus is the creator of all things. With God, Jesus is the energy behind the continual creation of life “without him not one thing came into being” (1: 3b). and we can apply that from the very beginning of time until today an”d on into the future.

John’s prologue, the first eighteen verses of the gospel, contains 44 verbs in just 18 verses of scripture as John expresses the eternal connection of God and Jesus, the actions of God and Jesus, and the literalness of “The Word became flesh and lived among us” (1: 14). The Message Bible, a paraphrase puts it this way “The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood,” or the very literal translation: “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us.” That last one has some resonance for those of us who camp (not me, by the way), because it reminds us of the intimacy of what it means to set up our homes together, to live together in a dependent way that is very different than checking into separate hotel rooms or staying in Air BnBs. It also reminds us of the exodus, when all the people of Israel lived as nomads and took their tent village and their tent tabernacle everywhere they went, and the Spirit of God was with them.

Oh that I had the time and the ability to keep writing, but then you would absolutely stop reading! I haven’t even touched the surface of this amazing book, my favorite of the gospels for many reasons. Quick fueling stops (I’m referring to places that fill us up spiritually): the term Lamb of God, the calling of the disciples and the phrase “Come and see”—my favorite way to invite people to church—and the first sign at Cana. Remember that in John’s gospel, all the miracles are referred to as signs, and what do signs do? They point the way to someplace we want to find, want to go, want to see. This gospel gives us ample opportunities to find, to go and to see Jesus.

Be blessed and be a blessing to others,



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