St Augustine said in everything he ever knew about the world, everything he read and regarded as worth studying, he had never heard of a word becoming a man. It is exactly what John conveys in the first chapter of his Gospel. The mind of God is spoken into life with a body.
It is John’s great thought that Jesus is none other than God’s creative, life-giving and light-giving word. Jesus is the power of God, which created the world and the reason of God, which sustains the world. It is God Himself coming to earth in human and bodily form. John was thinking of what is known as the pre-existence of Christ. (John 1:1-2)
If the word was with God before time began, if God’s word is part of the eternal scheme of things, it means that God was always like Jesus. We think differently of the God of the Old Testament than of Jesus and His loving ministry on earth. We might even think Jesus changed God’s anger into love and altered his attitude to men. The New Testament knows nothing of that idea. The whole New Testament tells us, that God has always been like Jesus.
What Jesus did was to open a window in time that we might see the eternal and unchanging love of God.
What then of the cruel and violent passages of the Old Testament? It is not God who has changed; it is men’s knowledge of Him that has changed. The prophets wrote of an avenging, angry God when they saw the cruel consequences of sin and the devastating effect of godlessness, because they did not know any better. Their knowledge of God was imperfect. Jesus came to perfect our knowledge of God.
It is told that a little girl was once confronted with some of the more bloodthirsty and savage parts of the Old Testament. Her comment was: “But that happened before God became a Christian!”
Jesus shows that God was always a Christian!
In the time of John there was a kind of heresy called Gnosticism. They held that in the beginning two things existed – God and matter. Matter was the raw material out of which the world was made, flawed and imperfect.
God is pure spirit, and pure spirit can never touch matter; therefore Jesus could not have been God for God cannot be man, which is created out of matter and therefore imperfect.
In the time of John this kind of belief was widespread. Men believed that the world was evil and that an evil God had created it.
It is to expose this teaching that John here lays down two basic Christian truths. The connection of Jesus with creation is repeatedly laid down in the New Testament. In Colossians 1:16 Paul writes: “For in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth … all things were created through him and for him.” In 1 Corinthians 8:6 he writes of the Lord Jesus Christ “through whom are all things.” The writer to the Hebrews speaks of the one who was the Son, “through whom also God created the world” (Hebrews 1:2).
This is a confirmation of the foundation of Christianity.
- Christianity believes God perfectly and lovingly created the world. What is wrong with the world is due to man’s sin.
- Christianity believes this is God’s world. Far from being so detached from the world that He could have nothing to do with it, God is intimately involved in it. Even though sin has made the world evil and tries to thwart God’s original plan of love, we can never despise the world, because it belongs to God.
He sent Jesus as His light and life (John 1:4). The theme of the whole Gospel is light, life and love – in Latin: lux, vitas, caritas, words we often see in churches and on crests.
The Fourth Gospel begins and ends with life. At the very beginning we read that in Jesus was life and at the very end we read that John’s aim in writing the gospel was that men might “believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31).
It is Jesus’ regret that men will not come to Him that they might have life (John 5:40). In Jesus is life – abundantly (John 10:10). He gives life and therefore no one will perish because no one will snatch them out of his hand (John 10:28). Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:6).
In the gospel the word “life” (zoe) occurs more than thirty-five times and the verb “to live” or “to have life” more than fifteen times.
Life is the opposite of destruction, condemnation and death.
Jesus is the bringer of this life; God is the giver of life.
The word to describe this life that God give is aionios – eternal life.
It is not simply life, which lasts forever – eternal life is that life which God lives. What Jesus offers is God’s own life. Eternal life is life, which reflects the power of the life of God himself. When Jesus came offering men eternal life, he was inviting them to enter into the very life of God.
We enter into it by believing in Jesus Christ. The word to believe (pisteuein) occurs in the Fourth Gospel no fewer than seventy times. “He who believes in the Son has eternal life” (John 3:36). “He who believes”, says Jesus, “has eternal life” (John 6:47). It is God’s will that men should see the Son, and believe in Him, and have eternal life (John 5:24)
Believe means we must be convinced that Jesus is truly the Son of God and take Him at his word, to accept his commandments as absolutely binding and true.
This is true life. Outside God and Jesus, it is impossible to live and know the true meaning of the life intended at creation.
Submit and ask Jesus to bring life, just as if He is there with you in His body. He is Spirit and He will communicate with your spirit in the perfect love, the heart of God, that He came to earth to show us.