Monday, October 28, 2013

In the Beginning Was the Word

Today is the first day in our 43rd week, reading the Bible through in a year.  Our scriptures this week are:

  •  Ezekiel 1-3; John 1
  •  Ezek 4-6; John 2; Psalm 82
  •  Ezek 7-9; John 3
  •  Ezek 10-12; John 4; Psalm 83
  •  Ezek 13-15; John 5; Psalm 136
Since my blog is called "Love the Word," how could I resist writing about John 1, when it comes up in our readings?  Verses 1-5 (NIV) say:

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.

The God's Eye Nebula
In the beginning was the Logos, the Word.  The Word of God existed before it was spoken.  The active, dynamic, creative principle of God in whom we live and move and have our being (Acts 17:28) existed before God spoke the universe into being.  And the Word was more than just a principle--The Word was Christ, the second Person of the Trinity, perfect and beautiful.  He couldn't yet be called Jesus, since Jesus is the name of a carpenter from Nazareth who was born to Mary over two thousand years ago.  Before the Word was born into the human flesh called Jesus, He still existed.  He has existed from all eternity.  

Through the pre-incarnate Christ the world was made.  He possessed--or, rather, He was and is--life.  Not that he has life--that would be far too simple for us to say.  Instead, we understand that Christ is Life itself (John 14:6).  Meaning that everything that's alive, lives because of, in, and through Him.  And anyone who has eternal life possesses it through Christ. 

This unending life generates all the light in the cosmos.  Light doesn't come from the Sun or stars--it comes from Christ, who infused those heavenly bodies with the holy fire that produces light.  If they ceased to shine, there would still be light.  In fact, Revelation 21:23 says that one day the earth will not "need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp."

There are a lot of translations for the final phrase of verse 5:

  • The darkness can never extinguish it (NLT).
  • The darkness did not comprehend it (NASB).
  • The darkness has never put it out (ISV).
  • The darkness has not mastered it (NET).
  • The darkness did not overcome it (HCSB).
  • The darkness did not perceive it (YLT).

The Greek word in question is κατέλαβεν (katelaben).  It means, literally, to aggressively take hold of, to seize with eager self-interest, to overtake, or apprehend, or make one's own.  For that reason, I probably prefer the NET for this verse.  No matter how much it tries, the darkness can never grasp the light of Christ.  It can't grasp him intellectually.  It can't fathom His beauty.  It can't lay hold of him to control Him.  It can't defeat Him.  It can't dominate Him.

Verses 9-10, 14 (NIV) talk about the incarnation of Christ.

The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him...The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

I'm staggered by the incomprehensible magnitude of those few sentences.  The eternal glorious light, the life-giving principle of the universe, the truth and wisdom and word of God pitched his tent among us.  At this point, the Logos of God, the pre-existent Christ, became Jesus.  He shed garments of light and traded them for fragile skin that could sweat in the sun, get goosebumps in the cold, heal and love with a touch, and be torn by the torturer's scourge.

He did all this for us...and we didn't even recognize that it was Him.

Like the emperor who dressed as a pauper so he could walk unseen among his people, God took on human flesh.  For thirty-three years he visited us, and most people never realized it was God walking among them.

Because the darkness can't comprehend the light.  It can't even recognize it.

Yet, even though the darkness has so much trouble grasping the light, God loved the darkness anyway.  Enough to shed His light on the darkness and redeem it.  "The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2 NIV)."  We find out how we can e saved by His light in John 1:11-13, which says:

He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.  Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.

Though He came to give light to everyone, not everyone will receive that light.  The Bible says that individuals must receive Him as their Savior.  They must believe in Him, by name, if they want the right to become children of God.  Everyone is the creation of God, born for the first time out of the water from the mother's womb, but not all people will become God's children who are born of the Spirit.  Jesus told Nicodemus in John 3:5-7:

“Very truly I tell you, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless they are born of water and the Spirit.  Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit.  You should not be surprised at my saying, ‘You must be born again.’"

This is why He came--so that you could be born again.  So that you could be saved.  If you haven't placed your trust in Jesus, I invite you to do so today.  If you're a believer, then I remind you to shed His light in a dark world--so that those who walk in darkness can see His great light.

No comments: