Well, two days ago I planned to begin a blog post with the statement that I would be looking at an often over-looked Scripture passage, John 1 today. However, in those two days, I have seen two blog posts that brought up that passage, one from Defying Depravity and another I can't remember where. However, I still plan to post today from John 1, because I still think it's one of the most over-looked Christmas passages in the Bible.
John 1:1,4, 10-14 says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. He was in the world,and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own. and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to them which believe on His name. And the World became flesh and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth."
Earlier this week I saw an interesting comment from a pastor in which he stated that he believed that John 1 was the single most important passage of Scripture, and I think I agree with him. This passage kinda has it all: an affirmation of Jesus' deity, a quick synopsis of man's rejection of God, and what Christ's death on the cross did for us.
The gospel of John contains no Christmas story, so this initial introduction of Jesus by John is interesting to look at. John's first glimpse of Jesus actually delves further into the past than Luke, who begins at Gabriel's appearance to Elizabeth, Mark, who completely skips over accounting Jesus' birth, or Matthew, who begins at the genealogies, beginning with Abraham. John precludes all these with a reference to Jesus as "the Word", simply saying that the Word was in the beginning with God.
Realizing that John is speaking of Jesus with his continued references to the "Word", it is interesting to note why John doesn't just come right out and say "Jesus". It's clear enough from the context that he is speaking of Jesus, since he says that the Word came from God, was God, came down to live with men, guaranteed us the right to become children of God, etc., all things Jesus did.
I'm not a Greek scholar, but the word in this passage is logos. Logos literally means "word", thus the translation as "the Word." However, it had another meaning. In Greek philosophy, logos meant the divine principle, the idea of an ordering being in the universe. (At least, this is my understanding of what I've read.) To the Greek Stoics, it meant the "active, rational, and spiritual principle that permeated all reality."
What it would seem John may have been doing with his first verse of this gospel is establish right of that Jesus is indeed the fulfillment of man's empty searching for answers. Jesus was that "active, rational, and spiritual principle that permeated all reality" that the Greeks so desperately wished to know. It's strikingly different from the way the other gospels begin.
V. 4 states in Christ was life, and that life was the light of men. My understanding of this verse is that this is John's attempt to state, emphatically and clearly, that Christ was indeed a man, in the flesh, literally man. He was not a spirit being who appeared as man, but literally man. In this life, real, tangible human life, was the hope of all mankind.
V. 10-12 really establishes mankind's guilt before God. Jesus, in His spotless, sinless perfection leaves heaven, comes to earth, and is rejected by man. The very ones He came to save were the ones that chased Him from cities and synogogues, started mobs to crucify Him, and drove nails through His hands and feet. We are, as Paul says, without excuse. Not only did we have the law itself to show us our guilt, but as John points out, we had God himself with us, and we still rejected Him.
It shows the amazing love of God all the more through our rejection. God, in His foreknowledge, knew that He would come, be rejected, and die. He knew, yet He came anyway, to save the very rebels that drove the nails through His hands. He came to save the very men who would lay traps for Him in front of the crowds. He came to save us, the very men 2,000 years later who get sidetracked and tempted, fall and fail. He came to save us, the very people who would forget, deny, take for granted His precious gift.
Then comes what to me is the most amazing verse in the Bible. "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Jesus, this "divine principle", this Messiah, God himself, takes up residence with Creation as a baby. Not a conquering king, not an emperor in a chariot, not a warrior on a war-horse, not a general with armies, but a baby, surrounded by cattle, naked except for a sack, lying in a feed trough. The Word, the Creator, the Messiah, the Almighty God lives His life as a curious twelve year old asking questions in the Temple, as a teenager growing up, as a carpenter adult, as a religious misfit, and in the end, a "political" execution.
"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." The Creator literally becoming creation. God literally becoming man. Power literally becoming weakness. Absolute omnipotence becoming a baby. He, God, dwelt among us, living with us, like us; facing the same struggles, temptations, and trials that we do.
Remember it this Christmas. Tomorrow is the day children all across America will run downstairs to their Christmas trees to rip paper off of presents. But remember, Christmas can be summed up in that one verse, "And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Remember it, think about it throughout the day.