By L&T Columnist Gary Damron
When our oldest boys were small, we bought a seven-book series by C.S. Lewis, “Chronicles of Narnia.” We enjoyed them as much as the children, and read them through several times as the younger ones grew old enough to understand.
In a commentary on the Book of John, R. Kent Hughes observed that each time Lucy met the lion, Aslan, he seemed to grow. “’Welcome, child,’ he said. ‘Aslan,’ said Lucy, ‘You’re bigger.’ ‘That is because you are older, little one,’ answered he. ‘Not because you are?’ ‘I am not. But every year you grow, you will find me bigger.’”
After more than four decades of Bible study, I still am finding deeper meaning and truth than ever before. Time and again I’m drawn to the Book of John in the New Testament, and get excited about new things learned. I really think the rest of my sermons could come from those twenty chapters.
The author John identified himself only as “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” His book was written several decades after Matthew, Mark and Luke, and was different in a number of ways from the Synoptic Gospels. Matthew began with the genealogy of Jesus, maybe not a fascinating read, but important to the Jews for whom he was writing.
Mark jumped right into Jesus’ life as an adult and his earthly ministry. Luke the physician emphasized the miracles of Jesus and gave an in-depth account of details not found in the others. John summarized his book by writing, “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31).
Nowhere else in the Bible is Jesus described as Logos, the Word, which is the title John uses for his savior. Our words reveal our mind, our thought processes, and also our heart. People who listen to us very long will learn the things we care about. By calling Jesus “the Word” John stressed that Jesus communicates to us the heart and mind of God.
John began his book exactly as the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning… .” Before time began, God was, and “…was the Word”. John in the first verse links Jesus to the creation of the world and the advent of time. But in fact, he says by way of the durative imperfect tense, Jesus the Word was eternally before creation.
Second, John states, “… the Word was with God.” The closeness of God and Jesus means they are inseparable eternally, with a meaning similar to a woman “with child”. The final part of the verse is where some stumble, and many go away unable to fathom: “…and the Word was God” (John 1:1). Still today, religious cults try to translate or explain the verse differently than the precise Greek in which it was written.
Just when we think maybe we’ve gotten a handle on the Trinity, we, like Lucy in Narnia, learn another reality.
John in his very first verse strove to present Jesus as eternal, inseparable from God, and as Theos, God who took on flesh, suffered for us, and wants us to communicate the heart and mind of God’s love for us.