John 1_1

In the Beginning was the Word

John began his Gospel account with these words, “In the beginning was the Word.” The phrase should remind us of the opening phrase of Genesis. Moses began Genesis with this phrase “In the beginning God created the Heavens and Earth.” The parallel between Genesis’s and John’s opening phrase is like an echo. The Old Testament writer spoke and the New Testament writer, like an echo, reverberated the sound back. An important idea is being communicated to the readers of John’s gospel with an economy of words.

To an early reader, a person would read those opening words of “In the beginning” and would think he or she would know how it was going to end. Yet, John doesn’t do what we expect him to do. John wrote, “In the beginning . . . was the Word.” The changeup should naturally grab our attention because the regular pattern has been broken. So, what’s he doing? He associates the “Word” with God who created the Heavens and the Earth. He changes the focus of the two passages.

First, the subject has been changed from “God” to the “Word.” Second, the action has been changed from “creating” to “being.” John develops this idea further with the rest of the prologue (John 1:1-5). The “Word” existed before the creation of the world. John used the imperfect form of the “being” verb (the word ‘was’ in English) to show that God nor the “Word” has a beginning, but that both simply exist. Before the creation of the cosmos and time, God the Father and the Divine Word were together.

Now think of all that was just said in light of John 1:14, “And the Word 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.” Did you catch the significant opening phrase? The Word became “flesh.” The Divine Word who existed with God before the creation of the cosmos “became” flesh. Don’t overlook the significance of “became” in verse fourteen compared to “was” in verse one. The Divine Word who existed beyond time and matter entered the realm of matter and time.

So what? So what does all of that mean for us? Jesus is the Divine Word who existed before creation with God and became flesh. Our Christmas celebrations should reflect the mystery and magnificence of such an event. The eternal Divine Word took upon Himself human flesh and entered into our world to relate with our human experiences. Yes, we celebrate the “little baby Jesus” but that “little baby Jesus” existed before Mary, Moses, Abraham, and Adam.

Now what? Now what should change because of this new realization? We should worship.

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