Reader: “In the beginning the Word already existed.”
Response: “The Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Scripture: John 1:1-14
In the beginning the Word already existed.
The Word was with God,
and the Word was God.
He existed in the beginning with God.
God created everything through him,
and nothing was created except through him.
The Word gave life to everything that was created,
and his life brought light to everyone.
The light shines in the darkness,
and the darkness can never extinguish it.
God sent a man, John the Baptist, to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.
He came into the very world he created, but the world didn’t recognize him. He came to his own people, and even they rejected him. But to all who believed him and accepted him, he gave the right to become children of God. They are reborn—not with a physical birth resulting from human passion or plan, but a birth that comes from God.
So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen his glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.
Reader: “The word of the Lord.”
Response: “Thanks be to God.”
The New Testament contains what many scholars believe are texts of hymns the early church sang. Such is the case for these first few lines in John’s gospel. In those early days of the church, hymns were a way of teaching faith and doctrine, a lesson from which many of the songwriters of today could greatly benefit. Volumes and volumes have been written on these fourteen verses, a centerpiece of the Christian faith.
Notice how this passage echoes the beginning of Genesis which says “In the beginning God created . . .” John writes, “God created everything through him” [Jesus],thereby equating Jesus, the Logos, as God. “The Word was God” and also revealed God. John establishes the eternality of the Word. “For Jewish people, the logos was the word of the Lord, an expression of God’s wisdom and creative power. By Jesus’ time, the logos was viewed as coming from God and having his personality.”[The NLT Study Bible, p.1768] Recall in Genesis how God breathed the breath of life into man and he became a living person or a human being, unique among all of God’s creation. John writes that the Word gave life to everything that was created and this kind of life brought light to everyone.
Light is a central theme in all of this gospel. Remember also in Genesis that light was created right after the heavens and the earth. The creation of light destroyed the darkness. John writes so beautifully that the light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it. This statement has profound implications. Notice darkness is always at war with the light. I don’t know this, but I would venture that more crimes are committed at night than in the day. (Riots tend to happen more frequently at night it seems.)
Through the centuries there have been countless failed attempts to stamp out Christians and Christianity. Here, God’s Word says very clearly that that will never happen. Such a statement can also help us to identify “darkness” and the work of the evil one when such a nation, people, or movement seeks to destroy the work of the gospel. The smallest light is visible in any darkness. No matter how dark the darkness is, darkness cannot ever extinguish the tiniest light.
While there is so much that could be said about this Prologue, I want to make a brief comment about the final sentence where it says “he [Logos] became human and made his home among us.” Some translations will read “he became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Greek word for “human” or “flesh” is sarx. To this point we learned that the Logos was God, Creator, giver of life, and unknown by his creation. The Gnostics, one of the people John was addressing, believed Jesus was not truly human, more of a “spiritual” type being. They did not believe Jesus died on the cross for example. John bluntly states that the Word [Logos] became flesh, human flesh, i.e. was a human being in every way, and made his home among us. This truth was especially hard for the Jews and Greeks who could not conceive of God having human flesh. The Greek word for “made his home” refers to a dwelling or tabernacle. For the Jewish readers, that immediately reminded them of the wilderness Tabernacle and God’s presence among them those forty years. Now, Jesus dwells in that Temple, and we are that temple. God in Christ is a human being, just like them. Seeing him is seeing the glory of God’s only Son. You and I are here to let that unquenchable light shine with the light of the Son, as temples of the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19).
Music: “This Little Light of Mine” arr.Moses Hogan The National Lutheran Choir
“Jesus, What a Wonderful Child” Christ Church Nashville
Almighty God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hast sent thy Son to take upon him our nature, and hast made him to become the Son of man, that we might become the sons of God: grant that we, being conformed to his humility and sufferings, may be partakers of his resurrection. We bless and adore you, O Christ: Son of God, yet born of Mary; Son of God, yet our brother; eternal Word, yet a child without speech; clothed in glory, yet wrapped in swaddling bands; Lord of heaven and earth, yet lying in a manger. We confess that we have lost our childlike innocence; we have despised what is tender and pure and corrupted ourselves with worldly opinion and secular culture. Forgive us, O God, and make us like little children whose lights shine in the darkness, lights of faith, of hope, and of love; so that we may again worship with wonder and awe at your manger throne. This we pray through Jesus Christ, who reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
―Prayers for Sunday Services, p.76, adapted Daniel Sharp