Series: Reflections From John
“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.” (John 1:1-3)
Every author appreciates the value of a good opening line. The Gospel of John begins with a bang- call it a Big Bang if you wish, or if you just want to annoy the skeptics among us. In today’s culture, some might call it a “drop the mic” moment. These first three verses elicit awe and wonder, yet generate questions from your grandchildren that leave you stuttering and stammering and sending them to “Go ask Grandma!”- questions like “Grandpa, who created God?”
And yet, the opening verse is one of the most consistent verses of Scripture across all the various translations. “In the beginning was The Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” No other human author of our Scriptures makes a stronger case for the deity of Christ than John, stressing that point unambiguously in this opening statement.
In fact, only through understanding that Jesus is God Incarnate, the Word made flesh, can we begin to address those seemingly unanswerable questions. We cannot explain God using human logic and the natural laws of the universe. It’s not rocket science! (See comment from a rocket scientist below.)
The fact that God preexisted defies human logic and rational explanation. That he chose to make his dwelling among us is difficult for many to accept, generating numerous alternate explanations of who Jesus was. But it is the simplicity and the clarity of the truth as articulated here by John that elicits the awe and wonder- not wonder in a questioning sense of the word, but wonder in a breathtaking sense!
Implicit in these opening verses is a right understanding of who Christ is and who we are in relation to him. Several months ago, I read A.W. Tozer’s “The Pursuit Of God”. Two statements from that book are very fitting in the context of a discussion about man’s relationship to God. Tozer writes,
“Much of our difficulty as seeking Christians stems from our unwillingness to take God as He is and adjust our lives accordingly. … God being who and what He is, and we being who and what we are, the only thinkable relation between us is one of full lordship on His part and complete submission on ours.”
I love the way John refers to Christ as the Word. He is the Living Word. As the opening verses of Hebrews so eloquently put it. “In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe.” (Heb. 1:1-2) Throughout this Gospel, Jesus will emphasize again and again that the words he spoke were the words of the Father.
Many have a hard time accepting a God they cannot explain through rational analysis. But if somehow we could address those challenging questions our grandchildren and skeptics pose with human wisdom and logic, some of the awe and wonder would be lost. And something about the nature of our relationship with God would forever be lost as well. As Rick Warren once put it, “If God were small enough for you to completely understand him, he wouldn’t be big enough for you to completely trust him.”
And so why not just accept the God who made his dwelling among us? Rather than fretting over trying to explain him, let us lift up our eyes in faith to the God as revealed in the Holy Scriptures. Because that God is an awesome God. He provides rest for the weary (Matt. 11:28); his love never fails (1 Cor. 13:8); he works all things together for good (Rom. 8:28); he keeps us in perfect peace (Is. 26:3); he is able to do more than we could ever ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20), and his grace is simply amazing! (Eph. 2:8)
That God is more than enough! …. (This is where I drop the mic!)
“Matters of faith are not really accessible to our rational thinking. I find it best not to ask any questions, but to just believe ….” – Dr. Wernher von Braun, rocket scientist
Note: All Scripture from the New International Version.