Jesus: Word Became Flesh (1:1-18)

Bible Passage: John 1:1-18

Whilst the other gospels begin with Jesus’ birth or the start of his ministry, John takes us back into eternity past and echoes the opening line of Genesis: ‘In the Beginning’. His point is that Jesus’ existence did not begin in that stable in Bethlehem, but he has always been there with the father in his divine nature. This beautifully crafted poetic prologue sets us so many of the themes that John will return to again and again through his gospel, including that in Jesus there is life, that Jesus came as a light in the darkness, that Jesus is the true revelation about God, that there are witnesses that testify about who Jesus is and that Jesus exhibits the glory of God.

The Word was with God: John begins by introducing Jesus as ‘the Word’ (logos). This word refers to God’s self-revelation, and by using it of Jesus, John is telling us that it is in Jesus that God is truly revealed. John wants us to see that this Word (ie Jesus in his divine nature) was with the Father all the way in eternity past. It is not enough to see him as the first or highest created being, he has been there before creation, and in fact it was through him that all things were created (notice the links between verse 3 and God creating by speaking in Genesis 1). As the perfect revelation of the Father, Jesus is the one who can make known the Father who previously was not known (v18).

The Word was God: John’s opening like makes clear that not only was Jesus with God but he was God. We shouldn’t see him as some second-tier being or assistant, but he is truly God in the same way the Father is. It can sometimes be hard to understand how Jesus can both be God and be with God. John doesn’t get into the mechanics of the Trinity here (though he will have more to say about the matter as his gospel goes on), but he does want to emphasise that we should receive Jesus as God, see him as the course of divine life, light and truth and give him the glory and worship that he is due.

The Word Became Flesh: In verse 14 is the most shocking statement in all of John’s gospel. This divine word that John has introduced us to became flesh. This means that as well as being truly divine, Jesus was truly human. He experienced life the same way we do, with the same frail body and the same exposure to the hardships of a fallen world, the same temptations and the same human emotions. Jesus was both truly God and truly man, and if we downplay either we can run into trouble. The purpose of the Word becoming flesh is seen in v12. He came to our world and to make us children of God, even though his own did not recognise him for who he is. In verse 14, the phrase lived among us could literally be translated ‘tabernacled among us’ and invokes the Old Testament image of the tabernacle as the place of the presence of God in the midst of or human society.

Potential Applications:

  • The divinity of Jesus reminds of us his power and the humanity of Jesus reminds of us his empathy. You could offer prayer ministry for people in full confidence that Jesus both understands what they are. going through and is able to intervene in their situations.
  • This passage paints a compelling picture of who Jesus is and draws us to worship him. Make some space for people to engage their hearts with Christ-centred praise.
  • A key issue in v10-13 is whether or not people will receive Jesus as truly God and truly man. You could invite people to consider their own response to him and give the opportunity for people to receive him for the first time.