“Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John’s gospel account begins rather curiously. What is all this talk of “the Word?” It seems almost veiled. Is John trying to hide what he really means? Why doesn’t he just speak clearly? Though I’ve read this verse countless times, I still ask these same questions. And then it hits me. Maybe he is speaking with crystal clarity. After all, words do have meaning.
So what is the meaning of the word, “Word?” A word describes something. We use them to communicate an idea, or a thing…or maybe even a person. Words also reveal. So maybe, in using the word “Word,” John is revealing something to us, not only about the person he is describing, but also about who that person describes.
Later in John 1:18, we are told who the Word is revealing. “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made him known.” In John, the Word is Jesus, and here we are told that at least part of Jesus’ purpose is to reveal God the Father.
Jesus, the Word, describes, and reveals the Father. He communicates the love of the Father. He communicates the mission of the Father. He communicates the character of the Father. John is telling us that we should not drive a wedge between the wrath of God and the love of Jesus. He is telling us that God the Son and God the Father are intimately connected in character and in purpose. And my heart needs to know all of this.
Maybe its not the way we would say those same things, but there is something very different about this book. At the end of the book, in John 20:30-31, we are told why John wrote this particular gospel account. He is giving us a glimpse into the signs Jesus performed in order to point the disciples, and the crowds, and us, to who He really is. Those signs tell us that Jesus was not just another guy. They are telling us that He was, and in fact is, the Son of God.
This book is not merely about knowledge, though. There is a purpose to our knowing that Jesus is the Son of God. In believing Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, you may have life in His name. This is not a general informational bulletin. This is a conversation. He is speaking directly to US, because he desires for us to have life. That’s a conversation I want to have. That’s a conversation my heart needs. So what else does John 1 tell me about the Word?
THE WORD ILLUMINES
“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Jesus, the Word, sheds light on my existence, and I’m beginning to see just how bold He is as the light. The journey that is this series of blog entries began with my struggle over losing sight of the person of Jesus. As I consider that, and as I consider John 1:4-5, I’m forced to consider that there are times when Jesus draws me back to Himself by allowing the light to fade. My existence…my way through life…makes less sense when I don’t see Jesus clearly. My struggles feel much more lonely when I think I am by myself. My sin is hopeless if I lose the personal object of my faith.
One of my favorite days every year comes each spring on the first Sunday after we adjust our clocks for Daylight Savings Time. I love to sit outside in the evening, that first evening when the sunlight lingers. That one extra hour of sunlight has always seemed to me a tangible sign of the new life of springtime. I have always loved that evening because it is a sign that the long winter evenings are over.
Jesus is not merely the light of men. He is my light. He is your light. This is personal. After a long dry spell of engineered Christianity, the beautiful truth that Jesus is our light feels like that first spring evening. The long darkness is over and something in my heart wants to leap.
THE WORD COMES
“And 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.”
John 1:14 has long been one of my favorite verses in all of Scripture…even in moments when I haven’t fully appreciated its meaning. In this verse, John is telling me the Word came to me. The Word wasn’t merely filling pages in a book. The Word was born (made incarnate). Jesus was a baby. Jesus learned a trade from His earthly father. Jesus was a friend. He had best friends (Peter, James, and John). Jesus ate and slept and exercised and prayed. In other words, before He died, Jesus lived…for me, and you…among us.
Again, this is a verse I’ve read countless times, but as I read it with fresh (illumined) eyes, my heart is blessed. I’ve long illustrated this verse in terms of my children. When my daughter was a little girl, she would occasionally have sleepless nights. When the boys couldn’t sleep they would come to me for help. But, when my daughter couldn’t sleep, she would crawl into the hallway, lay down, and cry. She wanted daddy to come to her.
I’ve always thought of those nights when I’ve considered the Word coming and dwelling among us. I still think my daughter’s need is a picture of our need, but I’m beginning to see that far too often, I’ve projected that need on others rather than recognize it in myself. The truth is, I need help to come to me. When I am lonely, when I am hurting, when I am confused…I need someone to come to me. Jesus, the Word, is the one who comes, not only for my daughter, but also for me.
THE WORD GIVES LIFE
“But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
Long ago, I received the Word in my heart and believed in His name. Long ago I received the right to become a child of God. But children need reminders, don’t they? My life, or at least my truest life, didn’t come from the will of flesh, nor of the will of man…not my parents’ or my own. My life came from God, through the Word made flesh, who has given me the right to become a child.
All my life I’ve tried to be a grownup. But the greatest gift I am given by my Savior is that of becoming a child. Wow! Words really do have meaning, don’t they? John tells me much about Jesus by describing Him as the Word. He is also telling me much about myself by describing me as a child. And by using that word, he draws me back, ever closer to the person of God…God my Father, Jesus my Savior, and the Holy Spirit, my companion and guide.