In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. John 1:1
If we were to write someone’s biography, we would naturally begin with the person’s birth. But for one person in history, life did not begin at birth. Jesus Christ, before being conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin, Mary, preexisted eternally with the Father.
As John begins to pen his record of Jesus’ ministry, he pulls back the veil to reveal the true nature of Jesus Christ: “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). This is deliberately reminiscent of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God ….” Since John’s gospel is all about a new beginning, a new creation, John uses words that recall the first creation.
The Living Word of God
Like the first, this second creation was not carried out by some subordinate being but by the Word, the Logos—Jesus Christ, the living Word of God. A word is a revelation, a thought communicated. God, in creating the world, communicated something of who He is. When Jesus came to earth, God spoke again—this time in the form of a man.
This Word, John tells us, was with God—in intimate association with God—and the Word was God. But the Word was not God the Father; He was God the Son. Herein is a picture of God’s plurality—what we refer to as the Trinity—as well as of the deity of Christ.
All that is true of God is true also of the Word. Some have incorrectly translated verse 1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was divine.” We use the word “divine” rather loosely to describe pleasant music or a delicious dessert. But John is not saying that Jesus is merely divine. He is affirming blatantly, boldly, unashamedly that Jesus, the Word, is none other than God.
If that affirmation is staggering to us, it was more so to the Jewish author of this gospel. For the Jews of John’s day, monotheism—the belief that there is only One God—was a conviction clung to and defended with fierce tenacity. John could, of course, say nothing else: he was writing under the inspiration of the Spirit.
Who God Is
John goes on to write that “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:14)—one of the most profound statements ever made. John is claiming that God became a man.
What would we know of God if Jesus had not come? Not much. We would know that He is an awesome creator. We would know from Old Testament history that He is a righteous judge. We might also know that God has interacted with a small segment of humanity—the nation of Israel. But because Jesus came, we have a more complete picture of who God is.
Under the Old Testament covenant, God struck fear into the people’s hearts at Mount Sinai so that they would not sin (see Exodus 20:20). But under the new covenant made known to us in Jesus, we don’t come to a mountain burning with fire and smoke. We come to the heavenly Jerusalem (see Hebrews 12:18–24)—to a joyful relationship with God. All because the Word became flesh.
During the three years Jesus spent with His disciples, they didn’t fully grasp who He was. They were often baffled. There were moments when it seemed as if they were about to get it, but then … no, not yet.
We Beheld His Glory
Imagine John, who spent three years with Jesus but never really understood who He was until after Jesus returned to heaven, many years later writing his gospel and looking back. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory” (John 1:14). John is describing his own experience. Now he gets it! He knows exactly who was among them. As he looks back at the past events in light of the truth, John is amazed that Jesus is God. That’s who we were with! That’s who we walked and talked with!
May the revelation of who Jesus is break upon us in the same way—and transform our lives. Ask the Lord today to shine His light into your heart and to fill you with the wonder of knowing Him.