Thought for the week - 7 February
Gospel John 1. 1-14(18)
We are perhaps most familiar with this passage at Christmas. We think of the coming of Jesus, announced by John. But we are reminded that Jesus is not just another human prophet, but the Son of God himself.
As we move towards Lent, looking forward to the Passion of Jesus it is appropriate that we look again at this amazing passage and see its meaning perhaps in a different way.
First we must remember that John 1:1–18 is a poetic introduction of Jesus Christ. Jesus is referred to using the Greek word Logos, meaning “The Word.” This passage clearly describes Jesus as identical to God, and co-creator with God. But it is poetry. This does not diminish its truth of course, it enhances it. We cannot easily describe love for example, any better way than in poetry.
A critical part of the gospel is the fact that Jesus was truly, fully, physically human. The first eighteen verses of John's gospel not only introduce Jesus, they counter false spiritual beliefs. One of these errors is that idea that Jesus was only a mirage, or an illusion. This is not true: Christ was a one hundred percent authentic human being. Verse 14 makes this explicitly clear by using the name of "The Word," while saying very directly that He "became flesh," living among human beings. This means Jesus was not a hologram, or a ghost disguised as a person. He was a real, living, breathing person. As a result, He could claim to have experienced everything we do as mortal people (Hebrews 4:15). The Greek word used here is skenoō, which suggests the tabernacle of the Old Testament. The tabernacle was a temporary structure, symbolic of God's "dwelling" with His people, while at the same time a literal physical place. Jesus is with us and among us, in human form, much as God was among His people in the tabernacle. Verse 14 also uses a critical term, found also in John 1:18 and John 3:16: monogenes. This is the source of the phrase, "one and only," or "only begotten," and it means that Jesus is of the exact same "stuff" as God.
God himself shares our humanity, shares our human experience. Lent is about recognised who and what we are. Ash Wednesday reminds us that we came from dust and to dust we shall return. None of us can avoid that. But that acceptance should lead us on to see, as we go through Lent, as we prepare for Easter, prepare for new life, God has a plan for us – and that plan is not dust, but glory. And only God can transform us from one to the other.
So often, people want to sell us some formula, vitamin, exercise plan, marketing strategy, or business opportunity that will enhance our lives. Our email boxes are filled with spam about the newest, latest, and greatest ways to enhance and enrich our lives. The Bible offers one way to find life — not a few ways, just one way. This way to life is not a plan we have to follow or a product; no, the only real way to life is a person — Jesus, God's living Word who took on human flesh! This Life, however, is not something we have to earn or pay someone else to receive. Instead, this Life was gladly willing to share everything that he had and has and is. This Life gives light. He shares grace and glory for our gain. And the offer? Well, it's not to just a select few, but it's for everyone.
So the real question for us today is pretty simple: "Have I found life in Jesus?" If we answer yes, then the second question is, "Am I sharing that life with others?" That is the ‘question stuff’ of Lent.