written by Jason Pancheau
In the beginning… John starts his gospel this way with reason, that reason being he wants to immediately draw your attention back to another place in the Bible where this same phrase is used. If you recall, Genesis 1:1 says the same thing. However, although John draws our attention back to the beginning, he quickly makes us privy to the fact that there was something even before the beginning. “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1), and now, “In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
In the beginning, the word was. When this universe as we know it was created, the Word already was. This Word is in fact, eternal, however, unlike humans, this eternality exists in both directions, past and future. In eternity past, the Word not only already and always was, but was also with God, and in fact, is God. This then additionally tells us that God is not a singularity of persons, but a community of persons. He perfectly and completely exists by himself, but is never alone. He always was, is, and forever will be, in perfect community with himself. Although it is not explicit here, we know from the rest of scripture that God is actually one God, but existing in three persons. He is both triune and one. He is the Trinity!
This person of the Trinity, the Word, is even the agent of creation. It is through him, that all things are made (John 1:1,10). This once again points us back to the eternal aspect of the Word, for if creation was through the Word, He existed before creation itself. This Word, who existed always before creation, and was himself the agent of creation, entered creation and came into the world (John 1:9). However, in what manner did He come into the World?
Verse 14 tells us that the Word actually became flesh and dwelt among us. But what exactly does this mean? The Word, became flesh, in other words, the Word became human. God became man; He took on the form of man, therefore becoming both God and Man, the God-Man Jesus Christ. In some mysterious way, he existed perfectly and completely as both: fully God, and fully man.
When the Word came, He became flesh, but the text tells us He not only took on flesh, but He did something. He actually dwelt among us, and made his home among us. However, a much more literal reading of the original Greek here gives us even more insight into what it actually meant that He made his home among us. Very literally this tells us that the Word pitched his tent or tabernacled among us. Whether John has in mind a tent or a tabernacle this should automatically take our minds back to the Old Testament, when God commanded the Israelites to build a tent and make a tabernacle for a very specific purpose. Exodus 25:8 tells us that God instructed Israel to do this so He could dwell among them. However, times have changed, and with Jesus comes a new epoch in redemptive history, and it is time for a new covenant and for God to dwell with his people in a much more personal way. How personal? So personal that God sent his only Son to become flesh and dwell with his people in the person of Jesus Christ.
This is how John starts his gospel, with a presentation of the eternal Word, Jesus Christ. Its one thing to read this, but John doesn’t write these words for you to merely read, he wants you actually believe these words. How you answer the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” makes all the difference in the world and has eternal implications. John says He is the eternal Word, the Son of God, the Son of man, and the man who is God. He has taken on flesh to tabernacle with his people. In him there is life and he is the light of the world, but when he came, the world did not receive him.
What about you… will you receive him?
Do you agree with John?
Who is this man Jesus Christ?