In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God John 1:1
Today is the third day of Christmas and also the feast of our Patron Saint John the Divine. It was 29 years ago that I was ordained a Deacon by Bp. Clarence C Pope, of blessed memory.
The Gospel according to John is a most fascinating account of our Lord. There are several bits of commentary inserted into the text, as well as the presence of very deep theology.
An example of his commentary is well known to us, John 3:16. These are not the words of Jesus as some think, but of John.
One of the most complex commentaries found in his Gospel is the series of I AM statements.
One that I talked about on Christmas Eve was where he said I am the bread of life.
In John 6:35 we read; “Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.”
As a baby he was lying in a manger, or a feeding trough, seemingly presenting himself as food.
The other one I spoke about was from John 8: “I am the light of the world.”
John 8:12 reads; “Then Jesus again spoke to them, saying, “I am the Light of the world; he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness, but will have the Light of life.”
There are five more, which I will address in another sermon.
What is the point of these statements? When Jesus used the words, I AM, he was equating himself with the Father.
In Exodus 3, we read; 13 Moses said to God, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.’”
These statements reinforce the very first verse of this Gospel.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
In his use of Word for Jesus, John begins with an eternal truth on which his entire Gospel is based.
In presenting Jesus to the Greek speaking world of Central Asia, John makes the case that Jesus is not some new being who just popped into the world to make outrageous claims to Kingship.
The Greeks respected ancient things. New things were not worth their trust. Christianity was not a new religion. It is the same religion as that of Abraham, Issac and Jacob. This must be true if Jesus was “In the Beginning.”
Eusebius of Caesarea, also known as Eusebius Pamphili, was a historian of Christianity, exegete, and Christian polemicist. He became the bishop of Caesarea Maritima about 314 AD. Together with Pamphilus, he was a scholar of the Biblical canon and is regarded as one of the most learned Christians of his time. His telling of the history of the Church emphasizes that Christ appeared several times in the Old Testament without being clearly named.
Our Lord Jesus is not only from the beginning, he evermore shall be. This is the hope of everlasting life for us. If he is, then we will be, too. It is this hope that sustains us in the face of plague and pandemic. We know our Lord is ultimately in control, and we need not worry about anything at all.
John ends his prologue with this: “No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.”
One thing we can count on is that Jesus is God. It may be easy for us to say now, but it was absolutely revolutionary in John’s day. He was the only one who escaped the persecutions with his life, and he took Saint Mary, the mother of our Lord with him to Ephesus.
He spent his time in exile on Patmos, and experienced the revelation of our Lord, and through his efforts beginning in Ephesus, the Good News was spread out across Asia.
The Good News continues to spread today, all over the world. It spreads because it the king of kings that gives people hope for the future. It liberates the human soul from slavery to sin.
It is the Light in the darkness that keeps us walking through the valley of the shadow of death. We need fear no evil, for his rod and his staff they comfort us. It is this hope that means we will live in the house of the Lord forever. Amen