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John 1:1-5, 14
Did you ever notice the similarities between Genesis 1 and John 1? It seems as if the Holy Spirit is making sure that we take note of the two most important events in history. The creation of the world, and the redemption of the world.
The first words of Genesis are in the beginning God. The first words of John’s gospel are in the beginning was the Word. John makes sure that we don’t have to depend on the similarity between these two statements to draw the right conclusion. The being he is calling the Word is none other than the one true God. The Word was God. Yet he is also described as a distinct person, one who was with God, with him in the beginning before anything was made that has been made.
In Genesis 1:3 God says, let there be light, and there was light. In John 1:3 we are told that through him, the Word, all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. This gives us a pretty good hint as to why John calls him the Word. Scripture says that the Lord spoke and it came to be, he commanded and it stood firm. With the exception of Adam and Eve, everything came into existence when God spoke Let there be! These words of John indicate that the one he calls the Word is the one that saw to it that what was spoken was immediately done.
What a wonderful thing it must have been for Adam, and then Eve, to open their eyes for the first time and see the beautiful garden God had made to be their home! There were trees bearing delicious fruit everywhere they looked. Everything was fresh. No sprays or pesticides were needed. God gave them the job of caring for the garden, but we would all volunteer for that job, after all, everything was already planted and producing, there were no weeds, no irrigation was necessary. It’s hard for us to imagine what they did being called work. All they had to do was pick what they wanted when they were hungry. Everyone and everything lived in perfect harmony with God and with everyone and everything else. It truly was paradise.
But that sure isn’t the way things are today! We don’t live in a beautiful garden where everything is provided for us. We live in a world where we have to plant things if we want them to grow and if we want to have something to eat. We are in a constant battle with weeds and pests who try to destroy what we plant or eat it before we can. It is only with the sweat of our brow that we have things to eat. We don’t live in perfect harmony with God, or with anyone or anything.
We know why. We know what happened. Adam and Eve disobeyed God. They sinned. They lost the image of God that allowed them to be in perfect harmony with God. It was only after they sinned that they had children, children who were in their own image, sinful like them. It is because of sin, because we all rebel against God by nature, that this world is in the mess that it is in. But even worse than living in a world that is broken is that fact that the wages of sin is death. Because of sin everyone and everything must die. Because of sin, every person deserves to be separated from God for all eternity.
That leads us to another connection between Genesis and the Gospel of John. When Adam and Eve sinned, before God let them know what the consequences of their sin would be, the hard work, the pain in childbirth, the banishment from their perfect home in the garden, God gave them a promise. He didn’t leave them without a reason for hope. He gave them a promise that would get them through their pain and trials and troubles, and even give them hope in the face of death. Before he told them what any of the consequences of sin would be, he promised a savior, a seed of the woman who would crush the serpents head, and along with him, the power of sin and death. He promised to send someone to redeem them, and all that he had made.
What’s the connection? The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. That’s what Christmas is all about. The Word, the one who was with God in the beginning, the one through whom everything was made, this one became flesh. The Angel Gabriel tells us how it happened. By his almighty power the Holy Spirit caused Jesus to be conceived in Mary, a virgin. Jesus was truly the seed of a woman, just a woman. In Mary’s womb, the Word took on flesh. He was born into this world of sin and made his dwelling among those he created, becoming like us in every way except he did not sin.
After his baptism at which the Father designated him publicly as the promised Messiah by anointing him with the Holy Spirit, he gathered disciples, one of whom was John. He gives witness to the fact that he and others saw his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father.
They saw him with their own eyes. They touched him. They heard him speak. He had real flesh and blood like any other human. But they also saw him perform miracles. They saw him raise the dead. They saw him shining like the sun and talking with Moses and Elijah. They heard him tell them repeatedly that he would be crucified, but that on the third day he would rise from the dead. They saw him crucified and then they saw him after his resurrection. They saw him ascend to heaven again. They heard him say that he was returning to the Father, but that he would come again, only this time he would not hide his glory. Everyone would see him in glory as they had so briefly on the Mount of Transfiguration.
Through all that Jesus said and did they, learned the truth about God. They learned that he is full of grace. In spite of the fact that he had every reason to cancel his promise to send the world a savior, he kept that promise. In spite of the fact that when he came to those who were supposedly waiting for him, to those who had the promises of God in the Scriptures; in spite of the fact that they did not recognize or receive him as their savior; Jesus didn’t turn his back on them. He didn’t come to destroy them, which is what they, and we, deserve. He showed that he was full of grace by willingly going to the cross and paying the price necessary for our redemption.
God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. God did not send his son into the world to destroy the world, but to save the world through him. He became flesh to redeem us, to pay the price demanded to set us free from sin, death and Satan. That price was his perfect life on earth in our place, and his innocent death in our place. By becoming flesh so that he could live and die in our place, so that he could redeem us, he shows us that God, the one and only true God, is full of Grace. He takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked but wants all to be saved.
Do you want to know the truth, the truth about God, the truth about life and death, the truth about what happens after you die? Look to Jesus. He is full of truth. He alone reveals to us the truth that God is not only a just God, but a God who is full of grace. He alone reveals to us that the price of sin has been paid in full. He cried out for all to hear, it is finished. He alone reveals to us that death has been defeated for he rose with his body from the dead and promised that because he lives, we too will live and have our bodies glorified like his. He is the way, the truth, and the life. Everyone on the side of truth listens to him.
The Holy Spirit, through John, wants you to know the truth. Jesus, true God, one with the Father from eternity is the Word, the one through whom all things were made. Because his perfect creation was contaminated by sin, Jesus, the word, fulfilled God’s promise of redemption. He became flesh. He was conceived in Mary by the Holy Spirit. He was born into the world just as we are. He lived a perfect life on earth for about 30 years. Then he offered his perfect life to the Father as payment in full for every sin ever committed. He shows us that God is our creator and redeemer. He shows us that God is full of grace and truth.