January 2, 2014.
In keeping with the theme of yesterday, I thought it would be good to read the other section that starts out “In the beginning…”
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
I find the organization of John’s gospel fascinating, though admittedly I have not done as thorough a study of it as I would like (this is now on my study plan for this year). John writes everything for a reason, puts everything in a particular place, and he was very big on number symbolization (as we can clearly see in Revelation). For this reason, I can’t help but think that his opening line “In the beginning was the Word…” is not an accident. Genesis starts off “In the beginning, God…” and John starts “In the beginning was the Word.” Do you see the pairing? John is making a pointed statement that Christ was in the beginning with God, and as we continue, Christ is God. Without going to far into the Godhead (for now at least), suffice it to say that John felt that this premise was of top priority.
I believe sometimes we lose sight of how important the topic of the Messiah was to the apostles and early disciples. Paul, in every letter he writes to Christians (Christians, who have already been introduced to Christ and believe him to be the Son of God) starts out with Jesus and what he has done for us. Whoever he talks to, he proclaims this name.
“Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes,
To the church of God that is in Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
(1 Cor. 1:1-4)
“Paul, an apostle—not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead— and all the brothers who are with me,
To the churches of Galatia:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us from the present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places, even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”
Paul had a habit of reminding Christians everywhere that we are called through Jesus Christ, and he never apologized for it. Today, we start many lessons and teachings with the “do’s” and “don’ts” of the bible and totally leave out the messiah. (Side point: To be clear, I do not discourage teaching against sin. I do, however, discourage that being the only topic that is ever taught, or close to it. The apostles were clear on what the main teaching of the church should be- Christ. If one has a genuine love for Christ, everything else will fall into place. If an apathy towards sin develops, I dare say that it is a problem of sincerity of one’s commitment in love to Christ as opposed to a simple disregard for “rules.”)
To get back on topic, the early disciples preached Christ because Christ is God- eternal- and there is power in his name, just as we studied yesterday about the power of God. Listen to his own testimony:
“So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.””
This has always been one of the most powerful statements in the bible to me, God’s claim of “I am.” It’s hard for me to even read that without getting goosebumps. God refers to himself as the very essence of existence. “I am.” God is. He needs nothing more. He defines what it means to be. Everlasting to everlasting.
“Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘The Lord, the God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you.’ This is my name forever, and thus I am to be remembered throughout all generations.”
We would be wise to remember the power of God and the same power of Christ. Did you know that the Jewish word for God was so holy that many Jews would not even say it? Their reasoning was that something so holy should not come off the lips of a people so unclean. Today we have lost a level of respect for the very name of God and the name of Christ. I don’t think this is a trivial matter, as many would believe.
One of my favorite scenes in scripture is the one John describes in his revelation of the throne room of heaven:
“And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
who was and is and is to come!””
Blessed be the name of the Lord. Let us all bless his name, and may his blessings fall on you.
Suggested Daily Reading: Genesis 1 (yes, again), John 1, Exodus 3, Revelation 4.