1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. 5 The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.
John introduces us to the subject of his book. To do so, he takes us back to before the beginning of all things. Here, we are introduced to a concept. The concept of the Word. An expression of one’s self. Not a simple declarative statement, but the sum total of the expression of who God is.
1 In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. 3 The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.
Before the beginning was God: the Father, the Son being the complete and total expression of the nature of God, and the Holy Spirit. The Word has always existed as long as the Father has existed. In our beginning, regardless of the methodology we think God used to bring us here, it was the Word, the Father, and the Holy Spirit that started it all, bringing about all that has existed, all that exists today, and all that will exist. The Word is the source. We are a lesser likeness, made in the image of God, but not being God ourselves.
And yet through the Word, we will share in His life, changing us into something closer to Him than we are now. He is Life and He brings illumination to us of the Father. We see in a mirror dimly, some say not at all. We could guess at what God was. Sometimes we made horrible guesses or sometimes we accepted that our gods shared our base impulses and cultural values since they came so naturally to us. But we could never know God.
So the Word, being the exact representation of the Father, brought illumination to the nature of God. Not a cruel tyrant, but a compassionate healer. Not a distant or remote clockmaker immune to our suffering and cries, but a close and ever-present God who will touch the untouchable leper or give abundant grace to the sinner. Not a cold God that expects pious perfection, but a God that eats with sinners and decided to end the curse of sin by dying Himself and giving His life to us.
The Word also brought illumination to us about ourselves. In His Life, His actions, and His words, as He expressed the values of God and what God cherished (people), He brought light to our own personal and cultural deficiencies: our selfishness, our isolation, our prejudices, our self-righteousness, our pride, our vanity, our lusts for things that would not last. His life is a light in the sense that it is a benchmark for our own. Do we want to follow Him? How closely do our life, our words, and our attitudes resemble His?
The Light came into the darkness and the darkness could not comprehend it. We can’t. The life He lived and the life we are called to live to find eternal life are not natural to us. They are not natural to our religious and political institutions. We are lost sheep without a shepherd, prey to every hostile thing that wants to destroy our lives. We are misplaced valuables, covered in the dirt, separated from the one that gives us value. We are lost sons, living in the mud and filth of a pig pen, hungry, poor and wretched, scrabbling together something we dare call a ‘life’, who will die anonymous and forgotten by history.
Into this comes the Light. Even when it finds us, calls us son, calls us precious, carries us on His shoulders, we still can’t comprehend it. It is a love that defies our reason.
It is the Word of God.
That’s Who this book is about.