Who is Jesus? John 1


Today’s reading: John 1-2.

You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to. – C. S. Lewis

Who is Jesus? The world is full of ideas about him, and most of them are wrong. John, his disciple and beloved friend, who knew him as well as anyone, describes him eloquently, but because he was passionate about doctrine, also describes him truthfully.

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 men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. John 1:1-5

Jesus as God. John makes it clear that Jesus wasn’t a created being, but was with God from the beginning. He is, in fact, God. He is the creator from whom all things come. He is the life that is the light in men, the divine spark that animates us and illuminates the darkness. John goes on in his gospel to show that Jesus remained in intimate contact with his Father, only doing what he saw his Father doing. His enemies wanted to kill him because he called God his Father (John 5:18). He declared his divine nature when he said, “before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58). His miracles authenticated his divinity. His personal sacrifice proved that God is love.

Jesus as man. John said “the Word became flesh.” God became a man. He lived with us. Though he was God,  he “did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” As a man he was able to speak our language, reveal God’s glory to us, and make the Father known to us.

There was a man who sat in his warm home on a cold Christmas eve and heard birds flying against his window, apparently attracted by the light of his fireplace. He longed to help the birds find shelter from the cold, even lighting a lantern in his barn to try and lure them to safety, but nothing would work. “If only I could speak their language,” he said, “then I could tell them how to be saved.” That is what Jesus did for us by becoming a man.

Jesus as truth. Jesus is God, and was a man, but he is also truth. He said himself, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” John said he was full of grace and truth. He called Jesus the Word, the logos in Greek, which is a hard word to pin down. It can mean thought, idea, or saying. It can mean reason, doctrine, or moral teaching. To the Jews, God’s word was the power by which he created and revealed himself to men. To the Greeks the logos was the intermediary principle emanating from God that communicated with men. The writer of Hebrews said that in these last days God spoke to us in his Son, who bore “the very stamp of his nature.” Jesus is the truth about God.

Tim Keller said this about Jesus as truth: “Jesus Christ doesn’t just give us truths; he is the truth. Jesus Christ is the prophet to end all prophets. He gives us hard-copy words from God, truths on which we can build our lives, truths we have to submit to, truths we have to obey, and truths we have to build our lives on, but he himself is the truth.”

“The Word, then, the Christ, is the cause both of our ancient beginning—for he was in God—and of our well-being. And now this same Word has appeared as man. He alone is both God and man, and the source of all our good things” – Clement of Alexandria (Exhortation to the Greeks 1:7:1 [A.D. 190]).

Image by Isaac Torrontera on Flickr, CC by-nc-sa 2.0


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