Friday, October 24, 2008

John 1:2-4 (ESV)

"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 that life was the light of men."

I played football in High School and at the beginning of my football career I was very afraid of injury, and by association, hitting people hard – or getting hit. A good word by one of my coaches helped me get over that fear and my second year was much better, but still I was just average.

But I remember after my sophomore year my dad saying to me “Josh, you should have been voted MVP of that team.” Now, my dad was wonderfully biased and I know that he was wrong about that. But his words CREATED something new in me. A sense of confidence and strength was born that had not been there before.

In my junior and senior years I blossomed as a player. I broke records on defense (interceptions) and offense (scoring). I wasn’t much different physically but internally I was completely changed. My dad’s biased words, though not fully accurate at the time, had created the shadow of a reality that I began to step into. I had no idea at the moment he spoke what power those words would end up having – it was only after that it became clear.

John 1:1 tells us that “In the beginning was the Word” and that “the Word was God”. And then verse 3 tells us that through this Word all things were made and that without that Word nothing was made.

In this text we find out that the Word had the power of creation. That as he spoke something was brought from nothing and that all we see, hear, feel, touch and taste was brought into existence simply by God speaking it into existence.

Now, in part that should leave us in awe and wonder at the power of God’s spoken Word. He can say “Flower grow!” and a field of daisies will just pop up. He can say “Mountain rise!” and the land will rise at his instruction. He can say “Give me a light!” and the sun and stars begin to shine. He can say “Give me a drink!” and the oceans are filled with water.

Even more inspiring is that he can say “Pick up your mat” and the lame will walk. He can say “Open your eyes” and the blind will see. He can even say “Lazarus, come out!” and the dead will rise. A quick glimpse into the power of God’s Word leaves us dazed with humility.

And while that should rightly leave us in awe and wonder, it should also give us pause before we speak. As God’s “image-bearers” our words tend to also have the power of creation, perhaps not in the same way or to the same degree as He whose image we bear, but creation all the same.

Tell a young man his outstanding traits, perhaps those he has not yet considered, and they will become a bright and shining part of his own identity. Tell a young woman her glaring flaws and sadness and insecurities that had never even been considered before will seep deep into her heart and soul. Our words often have the power to bring life, or to see life extinguished.

For the Word made flesh (as we’ll see in 1:14) his words were words of life. This is part of why verse 4 says “In him was life, and that life was the light of men.” Where death had rule the Word brought life. I often wonder if Jesus, at the end of his 3 days of death, did not hear the voice of his Father calling him back to life. I know that my life has been full of moments when my own father spoke life into me, I can only imagine Jesus’ Father doing the same.

But this also inspires me as I speak. I want my words to be words that build, encourage, inspire, love…and even create. I want my words, whether spoken to the closest of friends or to the stranger on the street, to be light in a world that may feel very, very dark. I want my words to be full of life and for that life to be a light in dark places.

Monday, October 20, 2008

John 1:1 (ESV)

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. "

Johns’ gospel powerfully starts with three very important words: “In the beginning”. John’s gospel is so cleverly written which we see right from the start. My view is that in these few short words John is referencing 2 points of literature that have come before his.

His first reference is to the opening of his contemporary, Mark’s, gospel. Mark opens his book with “the beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.” And while this is true in the sense that Mark 1:1 is the beginning of his gospel (or history) about Jesus, it is not the beginning of the story of Jesus overall. I think this informs us partially on why John starts the way he does. Having access to Mark’s writing John wants to further explain that the beginning of Jesus’ story is not found in John the Baptist or a manger scene but that it reaches far back before that. Thus, we have his second literary reference.

John begins his gospel with the very same words as the opening to the Book of Genesis. Genesis 1:1 “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” In starting his gospel with these words John further explains that Jesus has been around from the very start. He is not a character in a book that enters halfway through but rather the words behind the book itself. The entire book is but an extension of his voice but he is not dependant on it for his existence any more than the author of a book is. He is before it, pre-existent, or in the words of Jesus to the Jewish mob later in John 8, “before Abraham was born, I am!”

This is, of course, a bold claim. The mob in John 8 picks up stones to kill Jesus because they immediately recognize this claim to be a divine one, that he is God himself. And unable to believe that Jesus is God they receive his words as blasphemy and appropriately try to kill him.

But John believes and proclaims this part of Jesus from moment one. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Jesus is God, and the rest of what John writes, from 1:2 – 21:25 only make sense after that truth is firmly established.

Personal Devotions

for the next bit of time i'm going to be posting short devotionals on the book of john. if you happen to read one and would like to add discussion, debate or further devotion please feel free....