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 … (verses 1-3)
What a beautiful, poetic, enigmatic way for John to start his Gospel. “The Word” is clearly a being of great power and position, who was with God from the beginning, is personally divine, and the source of all creation. The very wording of this opening statement (“In the beginning …”) evokes Genesis 1, exalting “the Word” to the rank of the Lord God Almighty. Further, he possesses life and light, uniquely, in a way that impacts all humanity. His identity is not yet clarified, but his person is clearly exalted.
Suddenly, into this beautifully expansive, abstract meditation, John the Baptist appears. Immediately, the whole is anchored concretely in historical reality. No, it is clear, John himself is not the One (the Word, the light, the Christ), but he inhabits time and space and bears testimony to this “Word.” So then, the “Word”, too, in the same way, must be visible and knowable. Yes, indeed, it comes clear in the text, for we’re told this Almighty One becomes flesh and takes up his dwelling among us (verse 14), the author himself becoming part of an expanded circle (“we”) who have seen and experienced the glory of the One and Only, the Word.
All of this, thus far, is a long, extended drum roll, building anticipation and wonder. We sit, on the edge of our seats, waiting for the identity to be revealed. Finally, it happens. In verse 17, the veil is pulled back. We hear his name.
Jesus Christ. Oh, yes!
What a powerful way for this Fourth Gospel to start. We don’t get anything of the birth narrative, nor any of the genealogy, framing his family legacy. What we get instead is the view from eternity, the cosmic height of his exaltation, and the focused depth of his condescension, coming down, entering our existence, being made flesh.
O Lord Jesus – the wonder is great. The drama is epic. You have come. You who are Word and Light, possessing and imparting Life, welcome. You chose to dwell among us. You continue to be “God with us”, making the Father known. Praise you. Thank you.
Watch: We have seen his glory, John says. Through the word of the Gospel and the revelation of the Spirit, we, too, are given eyes to see. Watch for his presence throughout your day.