“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were created through him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created. . .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.” (CSB – Read the chapter)
This morning we are making a transition. For the next few weeks, we are going to use this time to focus our attention on the season of Advent. For most folks generally and even most followers of Jesus, what follows the celebration of Thanksgiving (at least in this country) is the Christmas season. But in the historical church calendar, what we enter into at the beginning of December is the season of Advent. Advent is from a Latin word that means arrival. In the season of Advent, we are focusing our attention on preparing to celebrate the arrival of Jesus into the world. Of course, we aren’t awaiting His first coming like our ancient forebears were. Rather, we are looking forward with hopeful expectation to His second coming when He will finally make all things right. This is something we should be living our lives toward all the time, but during the season of Advent, we give it special attention with Jesus’ first coming in mind. All this month we are going to do just that through the lens of several passages throughout the Scriptures that will help us prepare in heart and mind for His arrival in our lives and in our world, and to get us ready to celebrate Christmas when it finally comes with special joy and excitement.
Today, we will begin at the beginning. Jesus’ story starts in the beginning. Before anything was written, He was there. That’s something we don’t often consider. His name certainly doesn’t appear the first time we see that phrase in the Scriptures. We generally start His story, at the earliest, with the angel’s announcement to Mary. But it really begins before that. Long before that. His story starts in the beginning.
In the beginning, John says, was the Word. He goes on to spell out that the Word and God were one and the same. Borrowing on some ideas that were common in his culture at the time, John associates Jesus with the Greek concept of logos. The simplest translation of logos is “word.” There is a great deal more depth to the idea than that, though. It carries the sense of a word that conveys and accomplishes action. There is wisdom to this word as well. Wisdom that goes beyond what you and I have on our own. This is a divine wisdom. There is actually a whole body of literature both ancient and modern exploring this concept. It’s the kind of thing scholars who don’t have to worry too much about practical applications explore with all the heady abandon of theology nerds set loose in a big, well-stocked seminary library. Their work is by no means unimportant, but it is more than we are going to try to explore together this morning.
What is worth your time to know, though, is that John makes clear here that Jesus was part of the creation process. This is because Jesus is God. Or, as John put it, the Word was God. There’s some debate over that phrase. An uninformed literal translation of its Greek would yield the phrase “the Word was a god.” The group of translators responsible for the New World Translation, the official Jehovah’s Witness Bible, rendered the phrase as such and set that whole movement down a path of christological heresy from which it has never recovered. Yet any scholar of the language whether Christian or not will quickly tell you the standard orthodox rendering, “the Word was God,” is the correct translation. Again: Jesus is God.
When that baby entered the world in a stable in Bethlehem, He was no ordinary child. He was God – the same God who spoke all of creation into existence ex nihilo – clothed in human flesh. Jesus was fully God and fully human. He was not some mixture of those two identities, but the absolute fullness of both. This meant many things, but for now let me highlight one and send you on your way for the day.
Because Jesus was fully human, He would one day be able to offer His life up as a fitting sacrifice for ours. Because He was paying the price for human sin, if He was anything less than fully human, His sacrifice would have been insufficient. It was a human life – all of the human lives in fact – that was taken from God in sin, and only a human life given back could right the scales of justice. This human life would have to be entirely perfect, though, which was something no human had ever or would ever achieve. Because Jesus was fully God, though, He could. He could do what no ordinary man could do. He entered this world without the taint of sin and relied perfectly on the Spirit for help in maintaining that path of righteousness until He drew His final breath. Thus, the life He offered to the Father was indeed a perfect one. He was the unblemished lamb God’s justice demanded. In all of this God’s wrath was satisfied, His justice was fulfilled, and His love was magnified.
And all of this was true in the beginning. Your salvation was never something in doubt. You were never going to be lost to sin forever. God was working before the foundation of the world to restore you to fullness in Him. That baby born was born with promise. All you have to do is embrace it, embrace Him, and you will experience the righteousness that covers over all your unrighteousness to make you whole in Him. Then you too can wait with hopeful expectation for His coming when righteousness will cover the world once again and God’s kingdom will be made fully manifest. As you prepare for Christ this season, may you know Him as He truly is.