First Sunday after Christmas
Isaiah 61:10—62:3 Ps 147 Galatians 3:23—25; 4:4—7 John 1:1—18
The Gospel of John begins with a sublime hymn about Jesus. It seems to be inspired by the first chapter of Genesis and echoes many of its themes—creation, light, darkness, light. Obviously, it begins with the same words, in the beginning, but John shifts from the act of God speaking to the Word.
Unlike the ancient philosophers, who also pondered the divine logos (Reason/plan which governs universe and gives meaning), John provides no in depth speculation about the Word. Rather, he simply states what the Word is and does.
Before time, the Word is with God and the Word is God. The Word creates everything, so everything depends on Him for existence. While the mystery of the Divine Word can never be comprehended, it is still helpful to ponder. God existed before time and space, whatever that means, I cannot imagine it. However, with the act of speaking, God reveals Himself (the Word) and in the revelation is also the beginning of creation. The co-existence of God and the Word seems connected to creation. The Word is God, Himself, creating, and then interacting with creation. There is great cost in this, for in time and space the eternity of God must be compressed and incomplete. God empties Himself and limits His power. In the Jewish Bible, we will read over and over that “the Word of the Lord came to” someone. The word of the Lord came to Abraham, Samuel, Solomon, Nathan, Elijah and other prophets. The later prophets, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Haggai and Zechariah use this phrase over and over. The verb becomes a noun: it doesn’t say (verb) that God said something, it says the Word (noun) came to them. I think this is what John seeks to impart to us today.
The Word is God’s Self communication. I think that the expression, “the word of the Lord came to me” is really speaking about the Word who was with God and Who is God. I think that Word is creator of all that is. I think that Word is the communicator of all God says to us--it is the Son, who is the fullness of the Father.
Now let’s be clear about the limits of the Word in time and space. Human languages are too small to capture the fullness of God. So the messages from God are limited by the human language which conveys them. Likewise, when the Word became flesh and dwelt among us as the human being, Jesus of Nazareth, the limitations of human flesh are also real. God enters time and space, and it costs God dearly. The Eternal Word, Who is light and life, will come to His own, but they will not receive Him. The Glory of God in Him will be revealed on the cross. It is veiled from those who do not believe in every age. The Word of the Lord comes to those to Whom the Father sends Him. This is the foundation and the font of our faith.
In a time of growing darkness, I declare to you that Jesus is the light.
In an age which increasingly embraces death, I declare to you that Jesus is life.
In an age of agnostics and atheists, I declare to you that Jesus is God.
In an age which would silence Him, I declare to you that Jesus is the Eternal Word.
In an age where the church is more and more marginalized, I declare to you that all who believe in Him will be made the children of God.