Scripture: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 ESV
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Observation: Recapping Yesterday’s Daily Focus, Luke concludes his Gospel with a segue to his sequel narrative of the birth and expansion of the church (the book of Acts). He tells us Jesus led his disciples away from Jerusalem to a location near Bethany and offered a benediction—raising his hands and speaking a final blessing. At this climactic moment, he ascended into heaven. Spontaneously, his disciples worshipped him for the first time without him physically present and then joyfully returned to Jerusalem, where they continued to bless God in temple worship.
Today’s devotion begins our study of the Gospel of John, named by the patriarchs for its author, the beloved disciple of Christ. John wrote his Gospel in late life (around 85 CE) to persuade his audience to believe in Jesus (20:30-31). The opening verses declare that Jesus is God, stressing his unique relationship with his Father. The book focuses on seven miracles (signs) that attest to his Messiahship. As Israel’s redeemer, Jesus called his people to believe in him, promising eternal life, proven by raising Lazarus from the dead (chapter 11) and, more importantly, by his death and resurrection. Also unique to John, he features Christ’s seven “I am” statements that point to his oneness with God the Father. And only John records Jesus’ encounters with Nicodemus (chapter 3) and the Samaritan woman (chapter 4), his washing of his disciples’ feet (chapter 13), his extended teachings on the cost of discipleship and the gift of the Holy Spirit (chapters 14–16), and his high priestly prayer (chapter 17).
Regarding our text, “The prologue,” John commences with a declaration that Jesus is eternal and co-authored the material universe (vv.1-2). Therefore, all inorganic and organic matter exists in him (v.3), for he is the very essence of life and thus shows humankind the way forward in this tension-filled world marked by warring spiritual forces of light (good) and darkness (evil), of which his light prevails (vv.4-5).
Takeaway: John’s prologue draws our attention to the opening verses of the Hebrew and Christian Bibles (Genesis 1:1) and its creation story: “In the beginning.” As presented here, “word” is the Greek “logos,” which carries several meanings. More often, it refers to the spoken word, which aligns with our text since God spoke creation into existence. But John’s proper-noun use of logos draws out the personality of the Word. Indeed, as theologian Merrill Tenney notes, ‘To the Hebrew “the word of God” was the self-assertion of the divine personality; to the Greek the formula denoted the rational mind that ruled the universe’ (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: John, p.28). Thus, to either audience, the Word, the source of all reality in its perfect form, as we know in part, is unrestricted by time and space and embodies the totality of the material world.
Okay, at this point, you may be scratching your head. No worries, these opening lines will make more sense as the Gospel progresses. But what are we to make from this prologue? John wants us to rest assured that even though our sin-marred world may seem out of control, the one who created the universe from the chaos of the waters is the Living Water that still commands authority over all his creation and has gained victory over our ultimate nemesis: Satan. And when we read John’s Revelation, we learn that the Word will return and make all things new—free of darkness, the presence of our Enemy, and sin with all its ill effects.
So how are we to live here and now with these promises? In the Light of the World because the darkness cannot overcome it (v.5). But how do we live in the light? The breadth of John’s Gospel will build on this question. For now, if we understand that Jesus is the Word and dwells in us, we need to feed on his Word (Scripture), which means that it must inform and shape our lives, quenching our thirst for meaning and purpose and guiding our steps onward and upward. It’s a straightforward path, but life tends to detour us. Thus, we must nurture our love for Christ, ourselves, and our neighbors, founded in a growing understanding of his grace. And when sin trips us, he who has us in his firm grip will upright us in due time (John 10:27-28).
Prayer: Father God, thank you for your Son, who co-created our world and universe with you. And thank you that he humbled himself to become one of us and dwell with us, providing us his light to guide our steps. Still, we confess that we sometimes prefer the darkness. So would you please help us grow in our love and affection for you and your Son and trust that he who has overcome the darkness will draw us back into his light when we stumble?
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling