John 1:1-14….Going Deep (read the Scripture at least twice)
John didn’t start with the easy stuff. As Matthew, Mark and Luke were already in circulation, his was the last gospel to be written. He certainly knew about the others and probably had copies available as he worked. For him, only one question stood clear: “What still needs to be said?” Verses 1:1-3. He started with “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John went deep, beyond space and time. “Word” actually means the powerful extension of the Mind beyond everything into creative, revealing and saving power. In Genesis, God isn’t scratching His head trying to figure out that kit He bought from Home Depot. He speaks and it materializes. He peels the fingers of Egypt, a major world power, from the throat of children of Jacob making bricks without straw. He goes to incredible length and trouble to reveal Who He is and communicate that to finite flawed human beings on a planet smaller than an atom compared to His created cosmos.
It was a team effort. The Father, unleashing the power of creative mind and then speaking (Let there be…) was the project director if you will. God the Son, the project manager, sustains the work (See Colossians 1:16,17). An engineer applied for a job and at the interview was given a conglomeration of components with the simple charge, “Put it together and make it run.” Jesus, God the Son made flesh, did and does. God the Spirit serves as creative director in Genesis 1:2, hovering like a sculptor or painter over new block of granite or a blank canvas assessing the first cut or stroke.
The breath and pulse of this God in John 1 illumines the roots and reason we exist. Verse 1:4. We were made to know and love Him. As we come to know Who He is, we come to know who we are. Life (Not “bios”, mere existence, taking up space and oxygen, but “zoe”, life manifested in intrinsic depth, significance and value.). Anyone separated rom God in Jesus nurses a heartache they can’t suppress. We crave to know Him and to be what only He can make us. And no expression of evil (Satanic, institutional or the fumes of our sinful ugliness) can quench it. Verse 5. Verses 6-9 talk about a guy named John whom we’ll catch on the next post.
“He was in the world” Verse 10. Think about it. God is bigger than and stands outside of the entire cosmos. A creator is not his creation, a painter not his painting nor a writer his book. Big, a time and space referent, doesn’t describe now “big” God is. Out of personal urgency to a degree and depth beyond our ability to grasp but somehow stuffed inside the word “love”, Jesus, God the son in the flesh, comes to a planet again the comparative size of an atom if held against the rest of the universe. And He does so through normal fetal development in the womb of a young Jewish girl named Mary. Small like that lies beyond my imagination and maybe yours. Why? So we could have life (retro v.4). So we would know God’s love. So cranky rebels who blame God for the problems we cause ourselves could become His children. Verses 10-13. Show me any religion that can match this; that is, that their god, gods or gurus waded in the mire , muck, manure and puke of this suffering planet. If they can, then and only then will I agree that all faiths indeed say the same thing.
“The Word became flesh”. Verse 14. He was one of us, experiencing the highs and lows every person feels. He lived unsheltered, unprotected and unprivileged. He could smell our breath, wince at our shabby ugliness and cry over our hurts. As Eugene Peterson says in his rendering of this verse,”The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.” And it wasn’t Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood.
“And we beheld His glory”. To behold means a lot more than merely to just look at something. It means to not only take a long, deliberate look but to find ourselves unable to tear our eyes away. And while we cannot tear our eyes away, we don’t really want to because we sense something deep and whole swirling around inside us while we behold. Some things evoke that like nature at its grandest (the Grand Canyon, large mountains). Great art: all the Mona Lisa needs to do is smile. I read of a prof who took some students to the island of Iona off the English coast. It was the site of a Celtic monastery where they produced something beautiful known as the Book of Kells. As the ferry docked on the return trip, all the students could do was to stand on the dock, stare back at the island and weep. They beheld. But beheld what? Jesus’ glory. We Christians drop that word a lot but what is it? It expresses itself as light emanating power in both the Old (the “shekinah” of God” often seen as fire) Testament and the New (Jesus in Matthew 17:1-8, Mark 9:2-13, Luke 9:28-36). Just as light breaks down into different wave lengths producing colors, glory is a seamless blend of Jesus’ holiness, love, power, truth and beauty. An old hymn says to “Turn your eyes upon Jesus. Look full on His wonderful face. And the things of earth will grow strangely dim. In the light of His glory and grace.” Makes us want to stare, doesn’t it? Good things that the meaning of words can’t hold begin to happen down deep when we do.
This summer we will bang into people who grind on us, hurt and harass us, irritate and aggravate us and just plain drive us crazy. Don’t miss or ignore these people because they’re a big part of why we are where we are this summer. Anyone who fits this description lives in darkness that Jesus wants to overcome. “The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness cannot overpower it.” And that light of His presence is in us. We will learn to pray more (and faster) and how to love people not nice to us. And , maybe without even our knowing it, they will se something they can’t explain unless Jesus is really God and risen from the dead.
Spiritual growth points
“All things were made by Him…(John 1:3). “…He upholds all things by the word of His power…” (Heb. 1:3). You may be dreading this summer for a lot of reasons. Come what may, it’s not our job to hold it together whether it’s our sanity or whatever. Jesus can still hold it together. He started in Genesis and is still on the job with us.
You want to know the best part of being Christian for 43 years? Enjoying Jesus. Just beholding. Just drinking in. Tasting, swirling Him around on the palate of the soul. He literally indwells our physical being. And He likes it. And He want us to treasure that too. And visit often. “Meeting God In the Flesh” by Don Everts that I suggested for summer reading will help.
If you’re encouraged by any of this, “share”, “like” or do some of that other Facebook stuff to help any other students walk strong this summer.
Please return your seats to the upright position and return your infrared night vision goggles to the attendant as you exit to the rear. See you next post on geezeronthequad.com.