In the opening few verses of the narrative of the life of Jesus as told through the Apostle John, we encounter the introduction to his story, John’s Magnificent Prologue. These eighteen verses serve as much more than simply an introduction to the book. At its heart this passage is poetry that weaves together a tapestry of rich theology and biblical history.
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… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:1-5, 14
The opening words draw us back in time, deep into the pages of Scripture. John’s message of hope, his good news, did not begin at the birth of Christ, but rather had beginnings far more ancient. “In the beginning,” leads us to Genesis 1:1 where we read in the first sentence of the Bible, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the Earth.” It is right there in the creation narrative where the roots of the good news of our salvation story begins.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).” What a strange yet profound statement. It is almost as if John is concealing the heart of his entire narrative here in these first few words. What is the identity of this “Word” who is both God and with-God simultaneously? What is the identity of this Word through whom all things were made (John 1:3)? What is the identity of this Word who is both the life and the light of men (John 1:4)?
It is not until verse 14 where we receive our answer. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14)” We must not move into the John’s account of the life of Christ without soaking in the precious treasure of this prologue. Right here in these verses we have insight into the very trinitarian nature of God. The ancient Church fathers developed the word Trinity to describe God’s ontological reality revealed to us in passages like these. Jesus is the Word who is God and is with-God simultaneously. The historic Heidelberg Catechism says it this way:
That God’s eternal Son, who is and continueth true and eternal God, took upon Him the very nature of man, of the flesh and blood of the Virgin Mary, by the operation of the Holy Ghost; that He might also be the true seed of David, like unto His brethren in all things, sin excepted.”Heidelberg Catechism – Question 35
The life of Christ is no ordinary life. The life of Christ is worthy of our time and our effort to read and reflect upon because in so doing we are reflecting on God himself. But we must do more than just reflect, we must also receive. In the center of this passage we read, “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God (John 1:12).” To engage with the life of Christ is to be forced to make a decision. We can choose to receive Christ by faith, or we can choose to reject Christ by faith, there is no middle ground.
May the miracle of the incarnation overwhelm you this Christmas. May it draw you into a place of deep and eager worship of God. May Emmanuel (God with us) take your breath away. May you cast off every hindrance and distraction, and find yourself absorbed in the light of the incarnation. May the peace of Christ well up in your heart and your home as you reverberate the sacred reality that the God who spoke the universe into being, has also entered into its story.