These devotionals were written during the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic when area churches were not allowed to meet for fear of spreading the coronavirus. They were used in place of a full sermon as my family and I gathered for worship and communion.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” John 1:1-2 (NASB)
When we consider the beginning, we tend to think of a fixed time when something started or began. This fact is clearly seen when we consider the definition of beginning. Merriam-Webster defines beginning as the point which something begins; the first part; origin or source; a rudimentary stage or early period. Dictionary.com add am act or circumstance of entering upon an action or state; the point of time or space at which something begins; the first part and the initial stage or part of something. In their smash hit Beginnings, Chicago the Band says beginning is “what I want to feel forever,” and “only just a start!” It is clear to see that we think beginning is the start of something.
To further expand the point, we can point to July 4, 1776 as the day we declared our independence from Britain and the birth of our country. December 7, 1946 is the day we point to as the start of World War II for the United States. Annually we point to the day we were born as the moment when we began life on this earth. Subsequent birthdays mark off the beginning of our teenager years, becoming an adult. We start the process over when we decide to have children and begin a family. We point the finger at someone and blame them for starting an argument. The list is endless, but the point is clear, beginning, for us is the starting point of something.
However, in our passage today, John has a different outlook on the beginning. When John starts his gospel account, he uses three words that are very familiar to his first readers. “In the beginning” would immediately take his reader to the very first words of the Old Testament, the only Scripture available to Johns first readers. Genesis, which means origin or beginning. But John continues to say that the Word existed BEFORE creation, in eternity past, with God! In fact, John says the Word was God!
Throughout John’s gospel account, Jesus is presented in many different ways. Jesus is expressed as God Himself; the Giver of Eternal Life; the Bringer of light into a darkened world; the Giver of Grace; the unique Son of God sharing an intimate relationship with the Father; the Bearer of Heavenly Truth; the expression of God’s glory and fullness; And in our passage, Jesus is presented as the Eternal Word – the One who expresses God.
The use of the word logos or word would appeal and make sense to many of Johns early readers. It would resonate with the Greek culture that surrounded the early church. For the Greek logos was the shaping, ordering and directing principle in the universe. Logos, as a participant in the divine order, was distinct from the material and historical world. John contrasts this by revealing the Word became flesh! So, for the Greek, logos or word, could have two meanings. It could mean a person’s thoughts or reason, or it could mean the rational principle that governed the universe, even the creative energy that generates the universe.
For both the Jew and the Greek, logos or word, conveyed the idea of beginning. But for John, “in the beginning” does not mean from the start. When the heavens and earth were created Jesus was already there! As the Word, Jesus is the agent of creation, the source of God’s message sent through the prophets, God’s law and His standard of holiness. Jesus, as the logos, reveals God’s mind to us. John presents the widest perspective of all four gospel accounts, describing Jesus as he very source of all things we understand as beginning. Jesus as the Word is the Son in and with the Father and is the One whom has made God known to us. Jesus shares the infinity and limitlessness with God thus we do not have a full or exhaustive knowledge of Him. Jesus is and must always be in the center of our approach to God, our thinking about God, and our relating to God. Jesus as the Word is the definition, the explanation and the expression of God. Jesus is God defined, explained and expressed.
The question remains, “Who is Jesus to you?” Is He the shaping, ordering and governing principle of your life? Is He God defined, explained and expressed to you? Or is He simply a point of origin? Something you “Want to feel forever?” Or perhaps, “only just a start?” There is no time like the present to come to know the Word who became flesh. In Him you will find more than a beginning or a start; in Him you will find all you need, for now and evermore. May we all be found in the Word at His return.
Amen and Amen