In The Beginning
John 1:1 (ESV) — In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
It is crucial to understand the origins of Jesus. Those first moments as an embryo in Mary’s womb were not the beginning of the Son of God’s existence. The first cries that pierced the Bethlehem skies as Mary delivered her baby boy were not the true origins of the one they’d wrap in swaddling clothes. The one born in the manger existed eternally. The one entering the world was its author.
John begins his Gospel about the life of Jesus with echoes of Genesis 1:1. He starts his account of the life of Jesus “in the beginning.” He calls Jesus the Word. The Greek origin of “the Word” is “Logos.” It literally means “word.” The idea here is that Jesus is the Eternal Word of God. The Second Person of the Trinity is God’s Word.
The unique opening of John’s Gospel grounds Jesus’ existence before the incarnation. Before becoming flesh, the Divine Son existed. He was with God. This distinction of the Word from God is vital. We clearly see distinguishable Persons. The Word and God, as listed in this verse, are describing the Son and the Father. John introduces us to the Word, who was from the beginning with God, but then he jars our consciousness and proclaims, “and was God.” John baffles the Jewish understanding of God. Every good Jew confesses, “God is One.” While never swerving from that conviction, John reveals that the Word who is with God, is God.
These distinctions and particularities are important theologically. We see two distinct persons at the beginning of John’s Gospel: God and the Logos. As the book unfolds, we discover our God is One, but reveals Himself in Three Persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The foundational elements of Trinitarian theology take on distinguishable shape in these opening words. John says (1:3) the Word created the world, without which nothing would be made. Jesus had no beginning like everything else created; He made it all.
These truths establish for us the identity of the one who “became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (vs 14). The man born in Bethlehem and raised in Nazareth, named Jesus, is the eternal Word who was from the beginning with God, and is God. Jesus isn’t a man who achieves deity. Jesus is the embodiment of the eternal God who took on flesh and dwelled among us.
Questions for Reflection:
- What does John 1:1 teach us about the origins of Jesus?
- Why did God become flesh and enter into the world? What was the purpose?
- How does God coming into the world comfort you today in the things you are facing?