February 12 – John 1:1-18
Main Focus: Jesus is God, and to properly understand and follow him, we must begin at his eternal existence within the Trinity.
When turning to the fourth Gospel, we read an almost poetic introduction to Jesus, his nature, and his reason for his first coming. Through this passage, the apostle John explains the purpose and mission of Jesus’ arrival. The Son of the Triune God is described as the “Word [that] became flesh.” As we read on through John 1:1-18, we see descriptors that lend an idea as to why Jesus is called “the Word.” In reference to this passage, theologian Matthew Henry said that “the plainest reason why the Son of God is called the Word, seems to be, that as our words explain our minds to others, so was the Son of God sent in order to reveal his Father’s mind to the world.” Jesus came to this world as a messenger and representative for the Father while still being fully God. It was and is by his Word, Jesus, that the Father communicates his heart and desire for humanity.
Reading this passage, we see a clear presentation and explanation that Jesus always was and is with the Lord as the Son, the second member of the Trinity. He was present at creation, as we read that “all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made” (v.2). More than present, in verse 3 we see that Jesus was the agent through which the Father created the world. Flipping back to Genesis 1:1-2, we read that “God created,” and “the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.” Thus the full Trinity was present and active in and at creation. This reinforces Jesus’ position, authority, and purpose on earth, as the creator came to be with creation.
Jesus’ dwelling on earth in the New Testament with humanity was exactly that, a dwelling. The word that John uses for ‘dwell’ there is connected to the Hebrew word for tabernacle, which was the dwelling place for God’s presence on earth prior to the building of the temple in Jerusalem. However, at that point, there was a barrier between the presence of God and man in the form of walls and rituals preventing anyone from directly seeing or interacting with the Lord. In John 1, however, we read that our Lord dwells among his people without hindrance. How beautiful is it that the same God who dwelled with his people in the desert Tabernacle is the same God who dwelled on earth as the incarnated Son?
Jesus’ presence on earth was meant to bring light and life to the world, shining with hope in the darkness of a world without any. Verses 4 and 5 say the Word is “the light of men,” and the “light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” Jesus has crushed the darkness, and it has no chance of winning. While brokenness and sin bring destruction, Jesus’ light and presence mean redemption and hope for humanity.
Reading on, verse 17 says “the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Note that Jesus did not come to replace the law with grace but to fulfill the law and words of the Lord through the prophets. If we quickly flip back three books to Matthew 5, we read that Jesus speaks of his purpose in relation to the law, saying, “do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). John 1:17 is pivotal in piecing together Christ’s incarnation. God no longer reveals his will and nature through the voices of prophets or rules on stone tablets. Now, he is making himself known through his living presence. Jesus’ presence and existence pre-dates his earthly birth from Mary in the New Testament, and his becoming flesh is not losing his deity to become part of humanity. Jesus was fully God (Col. 2:9) and fully man (Philip. 2:7), not removing his God-ness but taking human form. Returning to our passage for this week, verse 1 states that the “Word [Jesus] was God.” The very essence of Jesus is that he is God. But, if Jesus were not the begotten son of God, he would merely be a prophet speaking words of peace and love. But we believe and know that Jesus is the Son of God, and it should change everything for us.
Understanding and realizing that Jesus is God should change us. Understanding that Jesus was, is, and is to come should make us want to know and glorify him more. Christ’s eternality provides us with comfort in that there is nothing beyond his reach. The authors of the books of the Bible describe him as the “alpha and omega” (Rev. 1:8), “the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17), and “the same yesterday and today and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Jesus always was and always is, just like the Father. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are perfectly one. Christ’s eternal existence allows us to rest in knowing that “in Him all things hold together” (Col. 1:17).
As we enter discussion, we’ll see how Jesus’ preexistence is foundational to our faith. If Christ was just some loving, charismatic prophet, his claim to be God would render him just a crazy person. But knowing that he is who he claims to be, the Son of the living God, changes the way we worship and approach him. Christ is worthy of our worship.
• Could someone read John 1:1-18?
• What stood out to you from the passage?
• How does this passage describe Jesus?
• Look at 1:1—why do you think the Bible wants to point out that Jesus was eternally existing before creation?
• How might this passage challenge how you typically view Jesus?
• How might this affect the way you relate to Jesus through worship?