Two books in the bible open with the same three words: ‘In the beginning…’ Since the dawn of civilisation mankind has been fascinated by the origins of the universe and every culture has it’s own stories of how all that we see around us, even humanity itself, has come into being. As followers of Christ we have a unique insight into the beginning. It can be summed up succinctly in the first four words of Genesis: ‘In the beginning God!’ At first sight it seems that this is a cosmological statement, providing us with information to satisfy our scientific curiosity. High emotions and much ink have been spent between believers attempting to reconcile ‘science and the bible’. That is to miss the point. The statement ‘In the beginning God!’ is primarily a theological statement about causes and purposes rather than systems and processes.
This becomes clearer at the opening of John’s gospel where we read: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. John 1:1-5 (ESV)
These verses are part of the prologue to John’s gospel where we encounter Jesus. Necessarily the Jesus we read about in the gospels is a man, flesh and blood. John however wants us to understand that Jesus was not simply a man he existed before the beginning of time, more than that; he was active with God in the work of creation. In Genesis creation is the result of the spoken word of God. In John’s prologue Jesus is the Word of God. This is a profound theological statement because it reveals to us that Jesus is God!
As we enter this Christmas season, get wrapped up in the festivities, and watch re-enactments of the nativity we can lose sight of this mind blowing truth: Jesus existed long before he appeared as a baby laid in a manger. All things were made through him and he is the source of life itself. So when you hear the words ‘In the beginning was the Word’ read out at a Carol Service this Christmas allow yourself to be awestruck that in Jesus we are encountering God himself.
This blog post featured in the December 2013 edition of Lifelines