Five Minute Devotions: John 1
There are two books in the Bible that begin with the phrase “In the beginning…” The first is Genesis. In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The second is the Gospel of John. John’s emphasis is obvious. He takes Messiah Jesus all the way back—not to beginning of his ministry, or his birth—but to the beginning. From the first words of John 1, there is an incontrovertible claim that this man Jesus, the Christ, is also God in flesh.
John 1 is a whirlwind journey that begins in the beginning and takes us through the start of Jesus’s ministry. At the center of it all, is John’s proclamation in John 1:14:
The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
Four hundred and fifty years separate the end of the Old Testament with the beginning of the New. With the end of Malachi’s prophetic ministry, there were no more prophets in Israel. The word of God had disappeared from the land.
The word of God also came with prophetic power. The prophets spoke and miracles happened. God spoke and the universe rolled off his lips. There was no prophetic word. There was no prophetic power. And there was no prophetic action. The Greek word for Word is logos. It does not mean just a statement or a teaching, but a doing. It was an active Word.
Into a world starved for a prophetic word, prophetic power, and prophetic action, comes Jesus. Not just a word, but the Word made flesh, the realization of a half-millennia of hope.
God could have sent a word from far away, a prophetic proclamation from the heavens that left him relatively uninvolved, absent from the messiness of sin. Instead, he incarnates himself. He puts on flesh. The late Eugene Peterson put it “God put on flesh and moved into the neighborhood.”
The Greek word for dwelling is skenoo. It carries the imagery of pitching a tent. It’s the same word used of the Old Testament tabernacle in the Exodus. The word became flesh and tabernacled among us.
In the book of Ezekiel, the prophet writes of God’s presence leaving the Temple. This the presence of God that first manifested in the Tabernacle (Exodus 40:34-38) and later moved into the Temple (2 Chronicles 5:14). And it leaves. The somber words of Ezekiel: “Then the glory of the Lord departed” (10:18).
The people would return from exile. They would rebuild the Temple. They would set up their ritual and religion. The presence of God would not return. Not until John 1. Not until the Word became flesh.
With the removal of his presence came the removal of his glory. And when the glory returned…it wasn’t what they thought it would be. Here is the Shekinah of God, that presence that Solomon said the heavens and earth could not contain, and it’s wrapped in human flesh and swaddling clothes and lying in a manger.
It’s January 1st. One week after Christmas. Now, there’s all sorts of debate about whether or not Jesus was actually born on December 25th, but let’s put aside that controversy for a moment. Jewish law says that newborn males must be circumcised on the eighth day. Count the days: 25th, 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th, 30th, 31st—January 1st.
That was the day that Mary and Joseph would have brought Jesus to the Temple. That is the day the Word, the Presence, and the Glory returned inside the Temple walls. It marked a new beginning.
Scripture says that when we accept Jesus as Savior and acknowledge him as Lord, he brings his presence and glory to live inside of us. Christ in us, the hope of glory, is what Paul writes. Christ’s presence brings new life. It begins a new calendar. You count time differently. This year can be different. You can live in the word, in the presence, in the glory of Christ.
Father, we pray for you to reveal yourself to us through your word. As we embark on this journey through Scripture, may your presence be felt upon us. May your glory shine out through us as we learn to live as emissaries of your Kingdom.
Why does John choose to speak of Jesus as the pre-incarnate Word, rather than beginning with his birth or public ministry like the other Gospels?
If there had been no prophetic ministry since Malachi, what is the importance of the ministry of John the Baptist?
Later in John 1, we see Jesus gain his first disciples. What is their initial belief about who Jesus is?
Tomorrow: #FiveMinuteDevotions | John 2