“He was created of a mother whom He created. He was carried by hands that He formed. He cried in the manger in wordless infancy: He, the Word, without whom all human eloquence is mute.” ~Augustine of Hippo
When we open the Gospel of John, perhaps the first thing we notice is that it is different. It is unlike the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke). While the other three Gospel writers deal with Jesus’ public ministry, John deals with the private life of Jesus. John is the writer who tells us about the first miracle, in Cana of Galilee, about Nicodemus coming to Jesus by night, and about Jesus conversing with the woman at the well. John gives us few parables. Half of the book deals with the Passion Week, Jesus’ last week before the Crucifixion. Most of what we read is Jesus’ behind-the-scene teaching to His disciples. John is the only Gospel writer to give us Jesus’ teaching on the Holy Spirit and on the I AMs of Christ.
The first fourteen verses of John’s Gospel are called the Prologue. Some commentators believe they were sung as a hymn in the early church. Their most striking characteristic is the term Word.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1). “In the beginning” (John 1:1) echoes “in the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). Before the world was, the Word (Greek λόγος or logos) was. Jesus Himself said, “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58).
The term Word (Hebrew מימרא or mimra corresponding to the Aramaic memra) was used by the Jews in their writings to refer to the Messiah. The Jews knew what John meant when He used the term. Our English Messiah occurs only twice in the KJV (Daniel 9:25, 26), in that part of Scripture where Daniel wrote in Aramaic. The Jews used a different word.
“The Word was with God” denoted intimacy. Jesus said, “I and My Father are one” (John 10:30). “The Word was God.” Jesus was not only with God, He was God, the Eternal One, the Logos.
“The same was in the beginning with God” (John 1:2). Anything or anyone who predated the world was eternal, uncreated, and therefore divine.
“All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:3). The Son was with the Father and the Spirit at Creation: “Let us” (Genesis 1:26).
“In Him was life; and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Jesus was not a created being. He had life in Himself, and this life was Light. Jesus said, “I AM the Light of the world: he who follows Me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life” (John 8:12).
“And the light shone in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not” (John 1:5). The world was spiritually dark, and Jesus brought Light, but the world did not receive it. Yet, even in a world of darkness, spiritual ignorance, and pagan idolatry, the light of God was not totally eclipsed because the Jews themselves, as we see in the Old Testament (Isaiah 60:3), were a candle, salt, and light (Matthew 5:13-15).
“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through Him might believe. John was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light” (John 1:6-8). John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus. John deferred to Jesus, saying, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30).
“That was the true Light, which lights every man that comes into the world” (John 1:9). A false light, as we see in Eastern religions, by someone who calls himself an enlightened one, can deceive. “No marvel, for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light” (2 Corinthians 11:14). This is the reason we are told to “try the spirits to see if they are of God” (1 John 4:1). Jesus was no deceiver: He was the true Light.
“He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not” (John 1:10). He was in the world, first, as the Angel of the Lord, the theophany, later as the incarnate Son. Yet He was the One who made the world. That the world knew Him not meant the world did not approve of who He was. “It was remarkable that the world did not know or approve its own Maker” (Albert Barnes).
“He came to His own, and His own received Him not” (John 1:11). He did not come to Asia, Africa, or the isles of the sea. Perhaps those natives would have received Him. He came to the Promised Land, to the seed of Abraham, His own earthly family, and they rejected Him. They would not come to Him for salvation. They even joined in the decision to away with Him. “Crucify Him, crucify Him” (Luke 23:21).
“But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name” (John 1:12). But some listened, and some believed. Those who received Him, received life. He gave them the power to be changed and to become children of God.
“Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:13). These were born again in the way that Jesus explained to Nicodemus: “Marvel not that I said to you, You must be born again … Verily, verily, I say to you, Except a man is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:7, 3). They experienced spiritual New Birth.
“And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth” (John 1:1-14). “The Word was made flesh [Greek σάρξ or sarx]“ or became incarnate. God needed a human body. “When He came into the world, He said, Sacrifice and offering You would not, but a body have You prepared Me” (Hebrews 10:5). To what end? That He might die. He dwelt among human beings as a human being. John, James, and Peter saw His glory on the Mount of Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1). They knew Him in His glory, but glorification was not His goal. His goal was to lay down His life as a sacrifice. “The Son of Man came not to be ministered to, but to minister, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Matthew 20:28). “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).
“That the sinless Son of God must die upon the Cross to redeem us shouldn’t make us feel good about ourselves but ashamed, for it was our sins that nailed Him there.”
Copyright © 2013 Alexandra Lee