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So to the book of John, of all the gospels this one is my firm favourite. And John's opening remarks are amazing. I suggest you read through John 1:1-18 several times.
"In the beginning" takes us right back to Genesis and the creation story. So the "Word", writes John, was there from the beginning, and this Word was with Elohim, and indeed he was Elohim and was with Elohim. Everything that exists was made through him, he is Life. The Life is what we call Light, the Light that shines in the dark and cannot be overwhelmed by darkness.
John the Baptist came to witness about the Light. This Light was in the world but wasn't recognised by his own people. He appeared in human form and he is glorious - full of grace and truth.
It doesn't come better than that! There's such richness in these words, such mystery and pregnant promise. They contain hope for those who believe and disappointment for those who do not. They speak of the unspeakable, portray the unportrayable. Here is someone who is wordlike, contains life, whose essence is light, who is not overwhelmed by darkness, who is full of visible glory, who is grace and truth.
This One has come into the world in human form as a gift and to give us grace and truth and to be light, to reveal glory and show us the Father.
How do we respond to this? What can we say or do that will make us worthy to approach him? Nothing!
If our presence here is only through the blood of birthing following a human decision to have a child we have no hope beyond this life and this death. But if instead we believe and trust in the Word, he gives us the right to become the children of the Mighty One. And children inherit everything that belongs to their father.
But although we can do nothing to make ourselves worthy, something is still required of us. We are to "receive him and believe in his name", writes John. Our response must be to receive him. We are to make him welcome, to honour him, to open the door to him.
But what is his name that we should believe in it? John gives it in verse 17, Jesus Christ (in Hebrew Yahshua ha Mashiach) This means, literally "Yahweh saves, the Anointed One". In Jewish history, the kings were anointed at the beginning of their reign. Jesus came and is the promised King.
Was anyone else anointed in Jewish tradition? Yes - the high priest. So Jesus the Messiah (Jesus Christ) is King and High Priest. Not only will he love his people and rule over them justly, he will also offer up a sacrifice on their behalf. No wonder we are to see ourselves as a royal priesthood - as sons and daughters of the Father, and as brothers of the King of kings we are exactly that.
John has already fully declared his gospel in the first eighteen verses. He has much more to tell us in the rest of his book, but if all we had was these eighteen verses, we would still have all we need.
And where do we stand in the presence of One such as this? Where do we stand?
We stand accepted, fully accepted just as we are. If we will accept him, he will accept us. And if we are accepted we will also be changed into his likeness. That was always our destiny. We were made in his image. We fell. If you accept him he will remake you in his likeness, just as he always intended you to be.
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