THE GOSPEL OF JOHN - CHAPTER ONE
UNITY, LIFE, LIGHT
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it." John 1:1-5 (NIV).
Have you ever read Genesis 1 and wondered where the light came from in days one to three when God only created the sun, moon and stars on the fourth day? Or perhaps you didn't notice!
John's gospel begins somewhat differently from Matthew, Mark and Luke. Like the book of Genesis, he begins with "In the beginning..." The beginning of what? Certainly not the beginning of God because He was already there in the beginning. And so was the Word. Who was the Word, and why was He called "the Word"?
According to Hebrew thought, God's Word is a manifestation of Himself in another form. So the Word can be written, as we have it in the Bible, or it can be a person; and that person was the second person of the Trinity who came in human form to speak to us about the Father and to show us what He is like.
The writer to the Hebrews put it like this: "In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He also made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." (Hebrews 1:1-3, NIV)
John tells us that the Word was with God in the beginning and that He was God. Does that sound like He, the Word, and God were two separate persons and yet one? He did what God did -- He created everything. In Genesis 1 God created the universe through His word. He spoke and creation happened. But Jesus is the Word. Through Him it all came into being. It's a mystery, isn't it? What was John trying to tell us?
If Jesus and God were in it together, creating the universe by speaking it into being, then they must be two separate persons and yet, since they were both doing the God-thing -- creating -- then they must both be God. Two, yet one? Not one person but one in nature, one in essence, one in power, one in purpose -- what the Bible calls echad -- unity, not two Gods.
Here's a simple illustration: God created Adam -- one person. Then He took a piece of Adam and from it He fashioned Eve - two people. Then He brought them together in marriage and told them that they were to become one flesh -- echad -- the same word as the Hebrew creed, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one..." -- echad, Deuteronomy 6:4 (NIV). They were to be a visual aid of unity because they were to be a reflection of the image of God -- one.
John's next theme is life. Life is much more than just being physically alive. It is the kind of life that willingly does what it can to make the lives of others better. It reflects the nature of God, is generous and kind and in touch with God and responsive to His will.
Now John introduces another theme -- light, which is closely connected to life. Our first reaction is to think of visible light but again, Hebrew thought was different. They would ask the question, "What does light do?" Light reveals, exposes, illuminates and enables us to see pictures. Darkness is the absence of light. Again, according to Hebrew thought, light is everything that causes creation to function in unity while darkness is everything that disrupts unity and causes life to unravel.
When Satan was thrown down to the earth because of his rebellion against God, he brought darkness to the planet, both physical and moral darkness. "Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep..." Genesis 1:2 (NIV).
Before God created the first human, the potential for him to be influenced by the evil one was already on the earth. It makes sense that God would not leave human beings to live in the environment of Satan's influence without being able to choose to live in the light. So, according to John, God assigned the Second Person of the Trinity, who was the Word, to be present on earth by His Spirit to teach Adam and his descendants to live God's way, which is to live in the light.
The Word was not only present and active in creation, He was also continuously active on the earth to influence His human creatures to love and obey Him and to live in fellowship with Him so that all of God's creation could live in echad as a perfect reflection of their Creator.
That was God's intention from the beginning but things went horribly wrong...
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