The Word was first, the Word present to God, God present to the Word. The Word was God, in readiness for God from day one.
Everything was created through him; nothing—not one thing!— came into being without him. What came into existence was Life, and the Life was Light to live by. The Life-Light blazed out of the darkness; the darkness couldn’t put it out.
There once was a man, his name John, sent by God to point out the way to the Life-Light. He came to show everyone where to look, who to believe in. John was not himself the Light; he was there to show the way to the Light.
The Life-Light was the real thing: Every person entering Life he brings into Light. He was in the world, the world was there through him, and yet the world didn’t even notice. He came to his own people, but they didn’t want him. But whoever did want him, who believed he was who he claimed and would do what he said, He made to be their true selves, their child-of-God selves. These are the God-begotten, not blood-begotten, not flesh-begotten, not sex-begotten.
The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. We saw the glory with our own eyes, the one-of-a-kind glory, like Father, like Son, Generous inside and out, true from start to finish.
John pointed him out and called, “This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word.”
We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.
–John 1:1-18 MSG
This is one of my favorite passages of scripture (It’s been on this blog a number of times). During the month of October and November of 2012, I spent about six weeks just hanging out in it. In that time of study, I came across this John Michael Talbot quote:
When Jesus revealed the new Word to the world, He did not write a letter or a book. He simply lived it. He is the Word. He is Word when He speaks and Word when He is silent, when He is active and when He is still.
Since coming across that quote, when I read this passage I do so through that lens–the lens of Incarnation.
John uses an outline for His Gospel that is reminiscent to the outline that Paul uses in the book of Ephesians. He starts with this epic cosmic story. Painting for the reader the idea that God is bigger than anything else. Yet, in His bigness is willing to send His Son to be Incarnate.
John, for all practical purposes, presents the reader with a summation of Biblical Worldview. All things proceed from God, he surmises. And, in light of that, we, like Christ, must live Incarnationally.
John also paints for us an image of the Kingdom of God. He uses the idea from the Greek of cosmos and chaos. Cosmos implying an orderly order–not just order, but an orderly order. Yet, where the Greeks believed these things to live in some sort of harmonic accord, John shows that God’s design is that even in the midst of chaos and orderly order can come forth. And, that, is the Kingdom.
Between John 1:1 and John 1:14, John presents the reader with two paradoxes. In Verse 1 the Word WAS God, yet, in verse 14, the Word BECAME flesh. Second, in verse 1, the Word was WITH God, yet, in verse 14, the word lived AMONG us. God incarnate.
Consider, 2 Chronicles 6:18-21 (The Message):
Can it be that God will actually move into our neighborhood? Why, the cosmos itself isn’t large enough to give you breathing room, let alone this Temple I’ve built. Even so, I’m bold to ask: Pay attention to these my prayers, both intercessory and personal, O God, my God. Listen to my prayers, energetic and devout, that I’m setting before you right now. Keep your eyes open to this Temple day and night, this place you promised to dignify with your Name. And listen to the prayers that I pray in this place. And listen to your people Israel when they pray at this place. Listen from your home in heaven and when you hear, forgive.
He moved into our neighborhood.
He came to where we are, and dwelt among us to show us the Glory of God–to make His name great among the nations!
Comforter has come.
God’s glory in our neighborhood.
Dwelling in our messiness.
Bring orderly order out of our chaos.