This past Sunday we jumped head first into the gospel of John, a book that we’ll be spending considerable time in over the coming months. Using loaded terms that were pregnant with meaning for his original audience, John takes the first 18 verses of his work to introduce themes and ideas that he will revisit over the course of his account. These themes, however, are more like cans of worms labeled covertly as ‘Tabernacling’ (John implies that Jesus thought and acted as though he was a replacement for the temple); ‘Sacred vs. Secular’ (John is purely sacramental, thus all things are spiritual); ‘Child of God’ (our false selves are exposed as new intimacy with God is made available).
Carried to their conclusion, these time bombs are the beginnings of a second chance for humanity. And for the follower of Jesus, the Word becomes flesh again as we venture to live, embody and tell His story.
“God is not an answer a man can give. God himself does not give answers. He gives himself, and into the midst of the whirlwind of his absence gives himself.” (Fredrich Beuchner)
“The opening words of the Gospel cannot by themselves say [everything] but they can alert the reader to the fact that the story he is going to read has a meaning which will radically redefine even his most fundamental terms. Above all it will mean that the most fundamental of all words, the word “God” , has to be redefined. It will have to redefined in view of the fact that he -Jesus- was in the beginning with God and was from the beginning God, and that he is himself the word of God, a word which is not merely declaratory but creative and life -giving.” (Leslie Newbigin, The Light Has Come)
“But how can the living God become a human being? How does it make sense? It makes sense precisely in terms of the creation story which John evokes with the very first words of his Gospel. The climax of the creation in Genesis was the making human beings in the image and likeness of God – the great work of the sixth day, bringing creation to its completion. The climax of John’s prologue is the incarnation of the Word. Humans were made to reflect God, so that one day God could appropriately become human.” (NT Wright, Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Discipleship)
“Our false selves are the identities we cultivate in order to function in society with pride and self-possession; our real selves are a deep religious mystery, known entirely only to God. The world cultivates the false self, ignores the real one, and therein lies the great irony of human existence: the more we make of ourselves, the less we actually exist.” (Thomas Merton)
“The way of the [Christian] is not the way of upward mobility in which our world has invested so much, but the way of downward mobility ending at the cross. This might sound morbid and masochistic, but for those who have heard the voice of the first love and said yes to it, the downward-moving way of Jesus is the way to the joy and the peace of God, a joy and peace that is not of this world.” (Henri Nouwen, In the Name of Jesus)