IT SEEMS LIKE A CRAZY WAY to start telling the story of Jesus. John introduced him as “the living Word of God” (John 1:1 Casual English Bible).
What? Try picturing that in your head.
It’s so much easier to picture him as a baby in a feeding trough in Bethlehem.
But John is sounding more like a theologian than a historian. Theologians have strange ways of thinking. There’s something different going on inside their heads. Something that’s often deeper than we’re used to hearing. And something that often makes no sense, at least at first glance.
Doggone, they make us work.
Here’s a footnote to John 1:1 that tries to help explain why John described Jesus the way he did.
The original Greek word is Logos. Greek scholars such as Heraclitus said logos was the wisdom behind all of creation. This all-present wisdom created everything and it guided creation along the way.
For many Jewish scholars then and now, God’s Word pulled the trigger on Creation, whether or not that involved pulling the trigger on the Big Bang. “God said, ‘Lights.’ Lights came on…God said, ‘Land, grow a garden.’…The land grew a garden” (Genesis 1:3, 11-12).
John doesn’t identify Jesus as the Word until a few paragraphs later, gradually working up to it by describing the Word as the one who “came to this world that belonged to him. But most of the people—his people—wouldn’t have anything to do with him” (1:11).
Jesus came to earth as a living, breathing expression of God’s message to humanity, summed up in what is perhaps the most famous Bible verse, John 3:16.
If someone wants to get a message through my thick head and into my calloused heart…on the pain of refugees, for example…they might begin by putting it in writing: a news story for the Associated Press.
Better still, put it on TV. That way I can see the faces and feel the emotions.
Best, put a refugee in front of my face. Let him tell me his story. If he can convince me that he’s telling the truth, his story becomes my story. I wouldn’t be able to help it.
I know that to be true of myself because I’ve been put in similar situations on mission trips.
I don’t think I’m unique that way. Humans, by nature, are drawn toward honesty. It’s who we are in the depths of the heart.
We respond to a true Word, whether it’s written, filmed, or standing before us in the flesh. We always have. God knows that. So did John.
I know we all love the Christmas story — but I’m much more comfortable thinking of Jesus as God’s Word made flesh than I am thinking about his story beginning in a manger. Too many peripheral issues to consider — like potty training.
Yes, Jesus was fully diving and fully human. But to me the REAL story of Jesus doesn’t begin until he’s a mature young man.
Stephen M. Miller
Good points, Steve.