Our reading for Tuesday, January 8, 2019 is John 1:1-13
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. 6 There came a man who was sent from God; his name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all men might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light. 9 The true light that gives light to every man was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. — NIV
Today’s reading is central to our comprehending the true identity and nature of Jesus. While the gospels of Matthew and Luke tell the narrative of the events surrounding his unusual birth and Mark focuses on Jesus’ genealogical heritage linking Jesus to the lineage of King David, only John comes forth directly declaring Jesus identity as “God in human flesh.” John’s conclusion is confirmed by the writings of the Apostle Paul who in verses 15-20 includes in chapter 2 of his letter to the Colossians what most scholars believe is part of an early church creed attesting to Jesus’ divinity.
John’s gospel is the latest of those written which explains his theological emphasis with the opening of his gospel account. The church had existed to decades and the now elder and last surviving apostle composed his account to address the needs of the church in his day. Since the formation and expansion of the church there had risen many heresies or opinions concerning who Jesus was. Was he a prophet superior to all others or an angel, or some other explanation one could contrive. Based on the historical evidence concerning his resurrection and claims we can only arrive to the same conclusion that in some miraculous and mysterious way Jesus is the character of God in a human form.
The nature of who Jesus is is a bone of contention for many who cannot accept Jesus’ identity with God. The Jews and the Muslims both contend that to equate Jesus as God is the rejection of the theological foundations of both faiths which contend there is only One God and we should only worship God. Both may lift Jesus up as a prophet but reject any idea that he should be worshipped as God. Jehovah’s Witness and other groups also reject the notion, however, basic to Christian doctrine Jesus is God and deserves to be worshipped along with the Holy Spirit who is also God. The doctrine is called the Trinity which describes the relationship between God as the Father/Creator, the Son, Jesus, who is the Redeemer and the Holy Spirit.
Many attempts have been made to explain the phenomena we call the Trinity to know satisfaction to many. The best way I understand this concept is through comparison with the nature of human beings. Since the Bible does state that we are uniquely made and bear the image of God looking at this through the lens of human nature may be the best way we can grasp the concept of the Trinity.
It is obvious that human beings are a composite of different natures. We have a physical nature, a mental and emotional nature and a personality or intangible quality philosophers have identified as the soul or spirit. They are distinct but necessary to make us who we are. We have a tangible body that is unique to each person except for identical twins, yet even twins have different mental capacities and separate thoughts. Personalities may be similar but each person maintains a separate and independent identity and consciousness and well as moral conscience, Science cannot explain this; it just is a given.
We may be able to clone the physical body but we cannot clone the memories, experiences and personality of each person. In as much as we are a mysterious composite of body, mind and spirit is it so difficult to accept that we worship one God in “three persons” revealed to us as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit?
Just as John states that the Word by which the Creator spoke to make all things became flesh in the person of Jesus, so it is true that he was not received then and now. Many will entertain some notion of Jesus but without accepting what we claim him to be as “God in human form” and the rightful Lord of all creation.
Some will entertain him as an inspired prophet among others or even one of a handful of exceptional and inspiring personalities of history, but only those who receive him as he is will benefit from the opportunity given by God’s grace to become children of the true God. We cannot be born into this relationship naturally but only through a mysterious act of God, just as mysterious as the birth of God in Jesus. We who really know him know this is true because his Spirit, the Spirit of God and Jesus has been born in us.
I pray you start this new year by asking God to work a miracle in your life by having the Spirit of his Son, Jesus be born in you. I cannot explain it and never will yet I know it’s true and possible.
Pastor Brian Homan
Liverpool First UM Church