Lectionary Reflection: John 1: (1-9) 10-18: The Real Deal.

Right from the very first sentence, the temptation here is to dissect the passage for what it has to tell us about God, about Jesus and about ourselves.  Many, perhaps most people do that and have done that, historically.  For example: In the beginning was the Word.  Our minds are immediately drawn to Genesis (or my mind, anyway) and God speaking, Let there be light.  The Word of God, spoken is all creative, all powerful, all everything – and the Word of God to us (humanity) is in the form of a person:  Jesus. 

You know, the original confession of the church (people of God), the one by which Christians distinguished themselves and became “Christians” is Jesus is God.  (We have King James to thank for changing the word “God” to “Lord” so that people these days think they are confessing something medieval, like to a Lord in a castle).  No. 

Given the inanity of that “Lord” confession, it is no surprise that in our time people have converted the whole thing to where they now ask if Jesus is your savior, as if that means something important.  We should be asking, Is Jesus your God?  (I can just hear the multitudes cringe and pull back from that idea), but that is what John is saying:  Jesus is the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God from the beginning. 

Jesus is God, or Lord if you really, really like King James.  So we ask, is he your savior?  He is, automatically if he is your Lord.  If he is not your God, however, he is also not your savior.  (Ooo, now I am really raising the hackles).  But that is what John is saying.  That is what he is saying throughout his gospel.  You can read John and get lots of things out of it, but if you don’t read it with the eyes that Jesus is God, you are not giving it an honest reading – or John has failed in his self-revealed intention:

These (signs) are written so that you may come to believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.  (John 20:31)

You see, John did not write the story of Jesus.  He did not write a biography, like the other gospel writers.  He did not (necessarily) even write things chronologically.  True, he included more than enough context for these signs so it is a coherent story, but that was not his intent.  He was writing signs, like snapshots of Jesus so we would understand who Jesus was and is, and by believing in his reality (rather than our imaginary Jesus) we might have life.

The implication is if we don’t understand and accept who Jesus really was and is, we don’t have life.  That is a lot to chew on, but that is John. 

That is also why many scholars refer to the writer as John the evangelist and distinguish him from John the apostle.  (I believe the prejudice is without convincing reason, and it is to paint the apostles – the ones who really knew Jesus intimately – as a bunch of ignorant louts who could not write their way out of a paper bag.  That is a convenient way to suggest that John the evangelist did not know Jesus and was only expressing his opinion.  That always sounded to me like people who were trying very hard not to believe). 

In any case, John believed that Jesus was and is God.  He believed God fully took on our humanity (emptied himself) in order to be able to relate to us in every way and on every level.  At the same time, Jesus revealed God to us (to see Jesus is to see the father) through signs and wonders and we merely need the eyes to see and the ears to hear.

Jesus is God.

There are many people who will not confess this including many who otherwise consider themselves perfectly fine and saved Christians.  But no one else ever made such a claim.  Not Mohammed, nor Buddah, nor anyone.  Jesus did.  Why else would the Chief priest rent his robe and cry out, You make yourself equal with God, and then want him crucified? 

And nothing else is God.  Jsus is God, not Caesar.  They killed people back then for saying that.  Jesus is God, not Hitler.  The Nazis ultimately killed people for the Barmen Declaration as well.  Jesus is God, not government of any kind… but John did not write about that.  He wrote so you and I might believe.  With that in mind, go back and read John 1: 1-18…

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