Reading for Second Sunday after Pentecost: John 1:1-18
Peace be with you!
The Gospel of John holds a special place in my heart. John writes about Jesus being approachable by anyone—the sick, the lame, the sinner, the seeker, the doubter, and the poor. It is primarily about having a personal relationship with God the Father through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. However, John’s gospel opens in a wonderful literary, poetic way, introducing us to Jesus Christ, the Son of God and son of man—the Word (John 1:1-2, 14), the light of the world (John 1:5, 9), the life (John 1:4), and God’s Son (John 1:14, 18) who is full of glory, grace, and truth (John 1:14).
Imagine the opening credits of the story of Jesus Christ: The Movie with the narrator reading the first twenty verses of the Gospel of John.
Imagine the first scene being from the creation story when God (the Father and the Son) created the heavens and the world. The first few verses of John takes the reader back to the creation story, back to the beginning of time: “In the beginning was the Word, the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God” (John 1:1-2 NRSV). Jesus is the Word from God. God becomes flesh through Jesus Christ and is made known to us through him. No one can know God without first knowing Jesus. Yet it is God the Father who sends Jesus to us. You cannot know one without knowing the other. By knowing God the Father through Jesus, we become a part of an intricate relationship. The story of Jesus Christ, our Messiah, begins in the Garden of Eden where Adam and Eve brought sin, brokenness, and darkness into the world, which is why we need Jesus in the first place.
Jesus is the light of the world. Jesus Christ comes into the world to be our light and to overcome the darkness (John 1:4-5). Light vs. darkness is a central theme in the Gospel of John. The light represents the good news of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, while darkness represents evil. God sends Jesus Christ into the world to conquer the devil and to free us from his grip.
When an individual lives in darkness, he/she only feels despair, anger, and resentment. We all know an individual or two who fights darkness on a daily basis. The friend who never seems to land on his/her feet and feels engulfed by the darkness. It is as though every time they have something positive going for them, the darkness brings them down again.
But even if we feel like we are living in the darkness, Jesus is overcoming the darkness through his presence in our lives. All we need to do is allow Jesus to be active in our lives. We can do that by taking our problems, dilemmas, and despair to Jesus and by having conversations with him through prayer.
Now imagine the camera going to the nativity scene. Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem and find there are no rooms left at the inn—the innkeepers represent the dark forces in the world who do not want the light to enter. However, Mary and Joseph find an empty stable where Jesus enters the world, despite the wishes of the darkness.
Jesus brings life to those who come into a relationship with him. Not only that, Jesus offers us a chance to be in a relationship with God, if we only believe. By sending Jesus to do ministry, to be crucified, and to be resurrected, God is inviting us to live life through a relationship with him.
When we experience a spiritual healing, we are given the opportunity to experience life as God intended from the beginning. By having Jesus in our lives, we are invited to enjoy and have eternal life. Jesus conquered death through his crucifixion and resurrection, so we could enjoy eternal life with the Triune God.
Imagine the scene changes to show the shepherds being visited by a host of angels. The shepherds find Mary and Joseph with Baby Jesus. The shepherds spend time with the holy family and tell them about the host of angels. Mary tears up with all that she hears as Joseph comforts her and Jesus sleeps in the hay. Then two years or so later three wise men follow a star to find the toddler Jesus with Mary and give then gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Even as a small child, Jesus begins having relationships with ordinary individuals in the world.
Jesus is God’s only begotten Son. God sent us his only Son, so he could die for our sins, a debt we cannot repay. Even at Christmas, there is the promise of the resurrection and eternal life for all who believe.
Jesus is full of glory, grace, and truth. Jesus comes into our lives to give glory to God the Father. Who else can give God the Father the glory he deserves? God’s perfect Son gives glory to his Father. We can learn a thing or two from Jesus about giving God the Father glory by lifting him up in everything we do. Imagine the scene of King Herod being angry with the wise men who tricked him and sending his soldiers to kill all of the boys two years old or younger. An angel visits Joseph in a dream, and he takes Mary and toddler Jesus to Egypt to escape King Herod’s ruthless decree. Even as a small child, Jewish authorities felt threatened by Jesus and his kingship over the Jews.
Jesus brings us grace from God the Father. Through his crucifixion and resurrection, we are given grace to be in a relationship with the Triune God, even with all of our imperfections and our sinful nature. Without the grace God gives us through Jesus, we would not be able to be in a relationship with the Triune God.
Jesus brings us truth from God the Father. Jesus is constantly battling the Pharisees over what God truly wants for his children and the devil over what it truly means to be a king. Jesus is constantly showing us what it means to be loved by God the Father. In his crucifixion and resurrection, Jesus proves all of these things to those who are willing to believe.
Jesus is also constantly battling rejection and acceptance (John 1:11-13). His own people would not accept Jesus because he was constantly going against the teaching of the Pharisees. Jesus goes against the grain and challenges us to seek truth. Since his own people would not accept him, Jesus reaches out to the Gentiles, non-Jews, and invites them to be children of God. Anyone, Jews and Gentiles alike, who chooses to believe in his name is given the power to be a child of God. What an awesome power to be given!
Now the movie begins with John the Baptist on the Jordan River. The crowd has its attention on John as he shouts, “He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me” (John 1:15c NRSV). Soon John will baptize Jesus, and we will follow Jesus as he travels throughout Galilee and to Jerusalem where he will face the Pharisees and be led to the cross. The author of the Gospel of John connects the story of Jesus with the creation story and invites us on the Jesus’s journey as the story unfolds.
On this third day of 2016, I challenge you to make a resolution to grow closer to God. Welcome this (re)introduction to Jesus Christ as a way to (re)connect with the Triune God.
Thanks be to God!
Dear Heavenly Father, Thank you for (re)introducing Jesus to us. Help us to accept his teachings this coming year and to welcome him into our lives. Thank you for the awesome power to be your children. Amen.