In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5
John begins his gospel in a completely different manner than Matthew, Mark and Luke. Matthew and Luke both begin their gospels with actual accounts of the events surrounding the birth of Jesus. But John begins his gospel account with these words, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
John begins his gospel (his account of the “good news” and true story of Jesus Christ) by calling Jesus “the Word” (Greek logos). By using this title, John presents Jesus as the personal Word of God through whom God spoke all things into existence. The Bible also reveals that God has spoken to us by his Son; and that Jesus himself declares that his own words are directly from God. It is also written in the Bible that Jesus Christ is God’s wisdom for us in every way, helping us to understand and accomplish God’s purposes. Also, the Word describes Jesus as the perfect revelation and representation of the Father’s nature and character. That is to say, he is God in human form. Just as a person’s words reveal his or her heart and mind, Christ as “the Word” reveals the heart and mind of God. John gives us three main characteristics of Jesus Christ as “the Word”.
(1) The word in relation to the Father. Christ was “with God” before the creation of the world. He was a person existing from eternity-without beginning and end-distinct from God the Father but in an eternal, unified relationship with him. Christ is divine (“the Word was God”), having the same nature, character and quality of being as the Father.
(2) The Word in relation to the world. It was through Christ that God created the world. In fact, all things were not only made by him (by Christ, the Word), but for him as well.
(3) The Word in relation to humanity. “The word became flesh”. In Jesus, God became a human being, taking on our form of existence, but without our sinful nature (since he was conceived by a miracle of the Holy Spirit). This is the basic statement of the incarnation (God coming to us in human form): Christ left heaven and entered the condition of human life through the gateway of human birth.
In the very next verse John writes these words, “He was with God in the beginning.” Here John is telling us that Christ was not created; he is eternal and infinite-without beginning or end-and he has always been in loving companionship with Father and the Holy Spirit.
In the next two verses John writes these words, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind.” These two verse lead us into the very last verse in today’s passage, and in them John talks about two things “life” and “light”.
The first thing John talks about is “life” (Greek zoe). Life is one of the key themes in John’s gospel. The term is used 36 times. Jesus is described as the bread of life, and the water of life. His words are the words of eternal life. He is the giver of life; and life is Christ’s gift. In fact, Christ is “the life”. That is to say, true life is embodied (expressed in a physical form) in Christ and experienced through a personal relationship with him.
The second thing John talks about “light” (Greek phos). The word light is mentioned 23 times in John’s gospel, more than any other New Testament book. Jesus’ life was the light for everyone, which means that he revealed God and his plans and showed us the way back to God. God’s truth, nature and power were shown through Christ and are made available to all people through him. Through Jesus we can also become children of light and can walk in the light.
The previous two verses have led us directly into the last verse of today’s passage. In which John writes, “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it”. John here focuses on the strong contrast between the light and darkness. The light of Christ shines in an evil and sinful world (one that is going its own way in rebellion and opposition against God), controlled by Satan. The majority of people in the world have not accepted Jesus’ life or light because these qualities expose their sinful ways. Human nature is drawn toward and prefers to remain in spiritual darkness. But the darkness has not understood (has not accepted the light), nor has the darkness overcome the light. Because Jesus was and is the fulfillment of what God said to Satan in the Garden of Eden after the fall. “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15 NIV).
As we move forward this Christmas season let us remember that Jesus is the light that shines in the darkness and that the darkness has not or will not ever overcome that light.