Author Don Schwager, Servants of the Word
GOSPEL READING: John 1:1-18
1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God; 3 all things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. 4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7 He came for testimony, to bear witness to the light, that all might believe through him. 8 He was not the light, but came to bear witness to the light. 9 The true light that enlightens every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world knew him not. 11 He came to his own home, and his own people received him not. 12 But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God; 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, full of grace and truth; we have beheld his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father. 15 (John bore witness to him, and cried, “This was he of whom I said, `He who comes after me ranks before me, for he was before me.'”) 16 And from his fulness have we all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.
Meditation: Why does John the Evangelist begin his Gospel account with a description of the Word of God and the creation of the universe and humankind? How might the beginning of John’s Gospel be linked with the beginning of the first book of Genesis (John 1:1-3 and Genesis 1:1-3)? The “word of God” was a common expression among the Jews. God’s word in the Old Testament Scriptures is an active, creative, and dynamic word. “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made” (Psalm 33:6). “He sends forth his commands to the earth; his word runs swiftly” (Psalm 147:15). “Is not my word like fire, says the Lord, and like a hammer which breaks the rock in pieces” (Jeremiah 23:29)?
The eternal Word leaped down from heaven
The writer of the (deutero-canonical) Book of Wisdom addresses God as the one who “made all things by your word” (Wisdom 9:1). God’s word is also equated with his wisdom. “The Lord by wisdom founded the earth” (Proverbs 3:19). The Book of Wisdom describes “wisdom” as God’s eternal, creative, and illuminating power. Both “word” and “wisdom” are seen as one and the same. “For while gentle silence enveloped all things, and night in its swift course was now half gone, your all-powerful word leaped from heaven, from the royal throne, into the midst of the land that was doomed, a stern warrior carrying the sharp sword of your authentic command” (deutero-canonical Book of Wisdom 18:14-16).
Truly man and truly God
John describes Jesus as God’s creative, life-giving and light-giving Word that has come to earth in human form. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). Jesus is the wisdom and power of God which created the world and sustains it who assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. Jesus became truly man while remaining truly God. “What he was, he remained, and what he was not he assumed” (from an early church antiphon for morning prayer). Jesus Christ is truly the Son of God who, without ceasing to be God and Lord, became a man and our brother. From the time of the Apostles the Christian faith has insisted on the incarnation of God’s Son “who has come in the flesh” (1 John 4:2).
Gregory of Nyssa, one of the great early church fathers (330-395 AD) wrote:
Sick, our nature demanded to be healed; fallen, to be raised up; dead, to rise again. We had lost the possession of the good; it was necessary for it to be given back to us. Closed in darkness, it was necessary to bring us the light; captives, we awaited a Savior; prisoners, help; slaves, a liberator. Are these things minor or insignificant? Did they not move God to descend to human nature and visit it, since humanity was in so miserable and unhappy a state?
Christians never cease proclaiming anew the wonder of the Incarnation. The Son of God assumed a human nature in order to accomplish our salvation in it. The Son of God …worked with human hands; he thought with a human mind. He acted with a human will, and with a human heart he loved. Born of the Virgin Mary, he has truly been made one of us, like to us in all things except sin (Gaudium et Spes).
We become partakers of Christ’s divine nature
If we are going to behold the glory of God we will do it through Jesus Christ. Jesus became the partaker of our humanity so we could be partakers of his divinity (2 Peter 1:4). God’s purpose for us, even from the beginning of his creation, is that we would be fully united with him. When Jesus comes God is made known as the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. By our being united in Jesus, God becomes our Father and we become his sons and daughters. Do you thank the Father for sending his only begotten Son to redeem you and to share with you his glory?
Almighty God and Father of light, your eternal Word leaped down from heaven in the silent watches of the night. Open our hearts to receive his life and increase our vision with the rising of dawn, that our lives may be filled with his glory and his peace.
1 O sing to the LORD a new song; sing to the LORD, all the earth!
2 Sing to the LORD, bless his name; tell of his salvation from day to day.
11 Let the heavens be glad, and let the earth rejoice; let the sea roar, and all that fills it;
12 let the field exult, and everything in it! Then shall all the trees of the wood sing for joy
13 before the LORD, for he comes, for he comes to judge the earth. He will judge the world with righteousness, and the peoples with his truth.
Daily Quote from the Early Church Fathers: The first-fruits of the Gospels, by Origen of Alexandria (185-254 AD)
“I think that John’s Gospel, which you have enjoined us to examine to the best of our ability, is the first-fruits of the Gospels. It speaks of him whose descent is traced and begins from him who is without a genealogy… The greater and more perfect expressions concerning Jesus are reserved for the one who leaned on Jesus’ breast. For none of the other Gospels manifested his divinity as fully as John when he presented him saying, ‘I am the light of the world’ (John 8:42), ‘I am the way and the truth and the life’ (John 14:6), ‘I am the resurrection’ (John 11:25), ‘I am the door’ (John 10:9), ‘I am the good shepherd’ (John 10:11)… We might dare say then that the Gospels are the first-fruits of all Scripture but that the first-fruits of the Gospels is that according to John whose meaning no one can understand who has not leaned on Jesus’ breast or received Mary from Jesus to be his mother also.” (excerpt from COMMENTARY ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 1.21-23)
Meditations may be freely reprinted for non-commercial use – please cite: copyright © 2020 Servants of the Word, source: dailyscripture.net, author Don Schwager
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.
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