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 came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being, in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son full of grace and truth. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’”) From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 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.
Titles of Jesus – The Word
I am not the first to observe that the drama of many films and soaps is poor substitute for the face to face drama of two persons fully engaged in dialogue. The ‘Face to Face’ dialogues (originally broadcast 1959-62, then 1989-98) demonstrated the dramatic power of the interview. Likewise, in plays, the soliloquy engages in dialogue of the interior kind, with the audience drawn in; also the best poetry.
With the Prologue as one partner in the dialogue, and the other the reader, we too can be drawn into the drama of God’s salvation. Of course not all may choose to be fully engaged, but those who are find how God chose to act in history.
The Prologue’s opening, then as now, strikes a chord of recognition: the beginning of Genesis – where God’s creative word (not a dialogue, but the means by which dialogue can grow) brings into being all that is. John’s use of ‘Logos’ (‘Word’) is a stroke of missionary genius for it is understood in the pervasive Greek culture and the Hebrew one, each with distinctive resonances. Communication established, John reveals that the Word he is speaking of is not an impersonal creative force, nor a principle of existence, but a flesh and blood person who embodies God. This human being, God’s gift to us, is graceful, the source of light, life and fulfilment to all who place their lives in his care. ‘The Father’s only Son’ – this is who incarnate Word is. Later on in John chapter 1 we learn his personal name.
Writing some 60 years after Christ’s resurrection, John was acutely aware of the rejection Jesus suffered. But some did accept and believe in him, meriting the description ‘children of God’. We are ever in their debt.
Our work is to communicate through words and actions what is readily understood about our faith. Those who are open to dialogue will respond. The work of God in them, and us, has started.
O Gracious God let the wonder of your love come afresh to us. Open up our closed and selfish lives to the light and life you offer us through Jesus Christ. May your Spirit so work in us that we too may incarnate your gospel. Amen
The Revd John A Young is a retired minister of the Synod of Scotland and a member of Giffnock URC