The Word was made flesh. 1:1-5, 9-13
In the prologue to his gospel, John adopts the poetic forms of his time to introduce us to Jesus. Jesus is the Word of God who has come from before time to serve as the divine agent of creation. This Word has now become flesh; he lives amongst us and gives life to humanity. Although surrounded by darkness, his light shines eternally. Sadly, most people reject the Word, but some believe and become children of God.
v1-2. The gospel of John begins with a key truth that serves to unlock the meaning of the gospel: Jesus is the creative word of God, as God (ie. he is divine) and with God from before time.
v3. Jesus, as the word, created all that we know and experience. There is nothing in our time and space that is not from his hands.
v4. John now uses two powerful Old Testament images that serve to describe the divine eternal word: life and light. Just as God's revealed word in the law and the prophets was life and light to his people Israel, so Jesus is life and light. Jesus is life in that he possesses divine life. This divine life radiates a divine light which is God's life-giving eternal truth/revelation.
v5. The purity of the divine light shines in the midst of cosmic evil ("darkness"), but no matter how hard the darkness tries, the light cannot be quenched.
v9. John now moves his view from the cosmos to the world. First, we read of the witness of John the Baptist to the light, v6-8, and then of the light himself, the authentic divine light who enters the world of human existence. In the birth of Jesus the light of God's word comes and dwells with us as one of us. The light shines upon all humanity; truth shines over a broken world.
v10. Yet, although Jesus created the world of human affairs, the human race neither recognizes him nor accepts him.
v11. Worse still, the people he came to, the people of Israel, a people prepared for his coming, did not welcome him.
v12. Yet, those who do welcome him, who receive him, accept him for the person he is, "believe" in him, they will receive God's long awaited promise of sonship, of immortality and divinity.
v13. John now describes this sonship. It is a new life, a rebirthing. It is nothing like the creation of life through human conception and birth, but rather a spiritual new life, a divine rebirthing.
Discuss how to incorporate John's image of the cosmic Christ into your church's Christmas decorations.
The Cosmic Christ|
When John wrote his gospel, he must have had an inkling that the stories of Jesus' beginnings were going to end up like a folktale.
The birth stories are wonderful stories and Christmas wouldn't be the same without them. We decorate our churches with nativity scenes and if we are lucky, our young people will perform a nativity play for us. In fact, we have all played the shepherds or wise men and we have all wondered at this simple tale. Yet, for many in our world it is little more than a fairy-story. Still, it remains a very powerful story. Business loves the selling power of Christmas. Our shopping malls are filled with Christmas fare, decorations, bunting, nativity scenes ....., all promoting the spirit of Christmas. It is of course changing, becoming more secular. The jolly red gentleman, Father Christmas, is slowly replacing the child in the manger. The folktale is slowly fading into the red, white and green.
Matthew and Luke begin their gospels with the events surrounding the birth of Jesus, but for John, Jesus' beginnings are elsewhere. They are beginnings that cannot be confined to a nativity scene, or depicted on a Christmas card. They are beginnings that can neither be contained nor ignored. John doesn't introduce us to the babe in Bethlehem, but rather to the cosmic Christ.
John tells us that Jesus is the creative word of God, that he is actually responsible for all that we see around us, all that is good. His existence is before all time, before the creation of our time and space. Jesus is with God; he is as God; he is God.
In describing Jesus, John uses the words "life" and "light". Jesus is the source of life, not just breath, but divine life, eternal life. He is light in that he radiates divine truth, knowledge, wisdom ..., and this truth, this revelation, is itself life-giving. This cosmic Christ, says John, radiates in the darkness of the cosmos and his light cannot be quenched.
The amazing truth is that this creative word of God came and dwelt with us, became incarnate. The authentic divine light entered the world of human affairs as one of us, and yet, for the most part, humanity ignored him, even rejected him. The world seems to desire darkness more than light. Yet, some have accepted him, have welcomed him, and those who do, bask in his light, became irradiated with his life. The few who believe possess a spiritual rebirthing such that flesh and blood gains eternity, immortality, divinity.
Let us always remember that the aura around the new born babe is but a hint of the cosmic Christ.
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