In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1–3
If you were to sit down and write a book, how would you begin? Would you start by introducing yourself, letting the reader get to know a bit about you and what you hope to accomplish for them? That is precisely how many books of the Bible begin. But, the Gospel of John is not like many other books of the Bible.
The opening of John’s Gospel reminds me of a drag race. I grew up in a family of motor heads firmly committed to classic American muscle cars. My pops is currently restoring a classic Chevy. One uncle was a stock car driver, and I spent nights growing up hearing the engines roar from the pits. My brother is a stock car driver as well.
There is very little that matches the thrill of being behind the wheel when a race starts and the force of gravity throws you back into the seat as the car lunges forward from a standstill. John’s letter starts like that.
John opens by echoing Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning…” The point is that the same God who made the world has entered the world and brings with Him new beginnings. Everything and everyone, including your life and family, can get a fresh start and new beginning with Jesus Christ.
Jesus is our eternal God. That is the basic point of the opening lines of John. Before anything was created, Jesus existed. Jesus is not a created being, but rather our Creator God. He was with God the Father in eternity past and “was God.” That last line is as clear as the Bible could possibly be about the deity of Jesus Christ as God. If Jesus were at your company holiday party, He would have written “God” on His nametag. It’s that clear.
By referring to Jesus as the eternal Word of God, the Bible is here showing that Jesus is the hope and longing of both Hebrew and Greek cultures, which dominated that day. For the Hebrew, God’s speech and action were one and the same. If you know the biblical account of creation, it says over and over that God spoke creation into existence by the sheer power of His Word (Genesis 1:3, 6, 11). This is because God’s Word is all-powerful and nothing can thwart or stop it from accomplishing its goal (Isaiah 55:11).
The Greeks living at the end of the first century also clung tightly to their proud heritage, a philosophical one extending from Heraclitus (540–480 BC), to Socrates (470–399 BC), Plato (428–348 BC), Aristotle (384–327), Cicero (106–43 BC), and a host of philosophers, poets, and playwrights. At the fountainhead of Greek philosophy was Heraclitus whose image could be found on the coins in Ephesus for several centuries following his death. In his three-volume work, On Nature, Heraclitus taught that the world was created by fire and maintains an intricate balance between constant flux and overriding stability. He illustrated this point by penning the now-famous claim that a person never steps into the same river twice because of its constant change. For Heraclitus, the creation of the world, the ordering of all of life, and the immortality of the human soul were all made possible solely by the word (or logos) that was the invisible and intelligent force behind this world. Also, it was the word through which all things were interrelated and brought into harmony, such as life and death, good and evil, darkness and light, and the gods and people. For Greek philosophy, the key to all understanding began with understanding the Logos. John’s point is simple, no matter what you want to understand it’s always good to start with Jesus!
John begins his book with Jesus Christ. How can you begin your day with Jesus Christ this year in such things as Bible reading and prayer? How can you start your week with Jesus Christ this year by being involved in a Christian church? How can you start your finances with Jesus Christ this year by giving generously? How can you start your relationships with Jesus Christ this year by praying with and for others?
I will spend roughly an entire year preaching verse-by-verse through the entire Gospel of John and those sermons can be found for free each week after they are preached at MarkDriscoll.org.