When setting out to write a story, it is important to grab your reader’s attention as quickly as possible. The best novels and movies grab your attention from the very beginning and draw you into the story. The main conflict of the story is defined very early on, usually in dramatic fashion. If we think about John’s Gospel and how it is written, it does just that. It is written unlike any other writing that was already circulating in its time regarding the life of Jesus. And there is a lot to unpack in this passage.
There is the part about how Jesus has always been since the beginning. There is also the part about Jesus being the Light that darkness could not overcome. There is the part about John (the Baptist) who was sent to set the table for Jesus’ ministry. There is the part about how, even though all of this was true, and even though the Jews were waiting expectantly for The Messiah, they didn’t even recognize it when He was right in front of their faces. And finally, there is the part at the end about how he was fully human and also fully God.
But out of this entire passage, I want to focus on one word: Word. To prepare for this writing, I read a commentary on John 1 because I wanted to see what new perspective I could get and give to a passage that is very familiar. The paragraph providing commentary on “Word” was something that resonated with me.
That commentary states that John probably chose these words very carefully to introduce this man, Jesus, because referring to him as The Word would have made sense to both Jew and Greek alike. The Greeks believed that the universe (kosmos) is an ordered place, and behind this order is reason. Reason comes from knowledge, and knowledge comes from logos. For the Jews, creation took place through God’s spoken word. The commentary also states that in John’s day, word was associated with wisdom. And from Proverbs 8, we read that Wisdom was at God’s side at the creation. And it is THROUGH the Word that all things were created, meaning that Jesus is an agent of creation.
This opening sets the tone for the all that is to come in this Gospel story; that it is going to be much different than the rest that has been written about Jesus. John hammers home time and time again the divinity of Jesus, leaving us without a single doubt that Jesus is the Son of God; the Messiah. And this opening message about who exactly Jesus is and was would have made sense to both Jew and Gentile alike.
As we continue our journey toward Christmas Day, let us remember that Jesus is even more than just the Messiah; the one whose coming was foretold by the prophets of old. He was more than just the person who performed miracles and taught in the synagogues. He isn’t separate from God. He IS God. And He has existed longer than time itself. All power and glory lies in Him.