Friday, May 26, 2017

The Vision (5.26.17): In the beginning was the Word

Note: I began a new sermon series through John last Sunday. The devotion below is taken from the initial message on John 1:1-5.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).

How might one begin to tell the story of the life of Jesus? How would you begin to tell about why Jesus means so much to you and to the world? Where do you start speaking about Jesus, telling about his life?

Do you begin with his baptism by John (see Mark 1)? Do you begin with his birth in Bethlehem (see Matthew 1-2 and Luke 1-2)? The apostle John knew of those things, but he chose to begin the story of Jesus in his Gospel in pre-history, before creation, before the foundation of the world. This reminds us that Jesus was and is the incarnation of the second person of the Godhead, who has always been, is now, and will always be.

So, John begins, “In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (v. 1). Notice three things about this verse:

First: Notice the echo of the creation narrative (Genesis 1:1). The eternal Son of God did not begin with the incarnation of Jesus, but he was there at the beginning (even before the beginning).

Second: Notice that the Son of God is called here the Logos. He is the Word. When the Gospel of John was translated into Latin, they used the word Verbum to translate the Greek word Logos. In Calvin’s Latin translation, he rendered it with the word Sermo, “Speech.”

The Greek term Logos is the root for all our words that end with ____ology (e.g., theology, biology, chronology). It is also the root for the English word “logic.” Indeed, it was a term popularly used in the first century by some philosophers to refer to reason or a rational principle that they believed exists within and which guides the world. Some think John is being here like Paul in 1 Corinthians 9 when he speaks of becoming all things to all men. That is, John takes a secular concept and applies it to Jesus in a way that non-Christians (and non-Jews) could understand.

Third: Notice that this verse (the very first line of this Gospel) declares that the Son of God (the Word) is God: “and the Word was God.” That is a very uncomfortable statement for those who deny the deity of Christ. The New World Translation of Jehovah’s Witnesses (who deny the deity of Christ), for example, does damage to the straightforward interpretation of the underlying Greek of this verse by giving the tortured translation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god.” They do this all to avoid escaping the plain meaning of this verse. But it does not help them in the end, because the same thing is said over and again in John (cf. John 10:30 where Jesus declares: “I and my Father are one”; and John 20:28 where Thomas declares before the risen Jesus: “My Lord, and my God!”).

Grace and peace, Pastor Jeff Riddle

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