In the beginning was the word – 4 things we learn from the opening of John’s Gospel

The gospel of John opens up with a profound theological affirmation about the nature and identity of Jesus.

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.
-John 1:1-3

These three verses at the beginning of the Gospel of John give us four fundamental truths about Jesus. 

I. Jesus is eternal 

“In the beginning was the Word.” 

John opens up by referring to Jesus as The Word. I take it almost as a title for Jesus in the beginning of John. In the Old Testament, it is through the word of the Lord that God creates, speaks to his people, makes his promises, and points people to truth. In Jesus, we see the ultimate disclosure of divine love, wisdom, truth and salvation, and so it is therefore fitting to refer to Jesus as the Word. 

There was never a time when the Word was not. 

And this is very important because right from the beginning of John, it confronts a common error that has existed in the church essentially since the time of Christ. 

And that error is thinking Jesus is created. Or thinking that God made Jesus. Or thinking that he was a really good man who was given a promotion and became divine. 

He has always existed. This is something that will continue to unfold throughout this passage, but Jesus is not a created being. 

II. Jesus has fellowship with God. 

The verse continues “and the Word was with God.” Another absolutely monumental and profound reality from this passage. Think about this for just a moment. The Old Testament is filled with lofty language of the majesty of God. Rightfully so. 

Exodus 33, Moses wants to see the glory of God (Exodus 33:18). 

God tells Moses in Exodus 33:20: you cannot see my face, for man shall not see me and live

It’s because God is so vibrant and righteous and full of life that it is completely overwhelming for fallen and finite people. 

But in that story, we see the glory of the Lord is revealed to Moses and Exodus 34 tells us that when Moses came down from the mountain, his skin was so radiant from beholding the glory of God that people were afraid (Exodus 34:29-30). 

He shined so brightly that he had to wear a veil. 

1 Kings 8, the Ark of the Covenant is brought into the Temple. And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the Lord, 11 so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the Lord filled the house of the Lord (1 Kings 8:10-11). 

The glory of the Lord was so overwhelming that the priests could not stand to minister. 

Isaiah 6, the prophet is given a vision of the throne room of God and he is terrified: 

Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!” (Isaiah 6:5)

The presence of the Lord is completely awesome as you behold his glory and majesty and life. If you’ve ever stood at a great waterfall, as the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water crash over the edge every minute, you can feel the power and rush of the water. That’s awe inspiring in its own right, but it’s no comparison to encountering the eternal and almighty God of the universe. And yet, with Jesus, we’re told that the Word was with God. 

Jesus can see God, he can behold the glory of God because he himself is glorious and righteous.

In the beginning, there was fellowship with Jesus and God the Father. 

III. Jesus is God

The text continues “and the Word was God.” The central theme of John’s Gospel. The Lordship of Christ. 

Something to consider…

Borrowing from Wayne Grudem in his book Systematic Theology: Historical, Orthodox, Biblical Christianity believes the following. There is one God. God is three persons. Each person is fully God. 

Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

While you can’t build an entire theology of the Trinity from this passage alone. But this passage affirms that Jesus is God and also that there is distinction between Jesus and God. In his commentary on John, Leon Morris talks of Jesus and God the Father and says “the Word and God are not identical by they are one.” We don’t have to know exactly how it’s simultaneously true that we have one God, who is three persons, and each person is fully God. But the Bible affirms all three of those statements. 

Theologically, this matters tremendously. And we have all of these affirmations right from the beginning of John’s gospel. 

 If Jesus were not God, then he would not be a worthy sacrifice for our sins. If he were just a great man, he would still be fallible. If he were just a great teacher, he could still be wrong . If he were just a great leader, he would still be finite. 

But he is the perfect God of creation. He entered into a sinful creation to redeem humanity. 

 It also matters because if Jesus were less than God, then not only would he be unworthy of our worship, but the very act of worshipping him would be blasphemous. 

From the beginning of the Ten Commandments. 

Exodus 20:2-3: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.“You shall have no other gods before me.

We’re told elsewhere in the Bible that God is a jealous God. 

But the gospels show people worshipping Jesus. He never corrects them or deflects worship when that happens. That is either blasphemous or warranted. There’s no middle ground. It is either acceptable to worship Jesus or it is not. 

There reason why it’s warranted, why it’s acceptable is because Jesus is God. 

Part of the reason why I love John’s Gospel is that it constantly confronts us with absolute claims about Jesus. Chief among them is that Jesus is God. That’s an absolute claim. It’s either true or it’s not. If it’s true, the only response is to believe in him, to worship him, to trust in him. 

If it’s not, the rest of this gospel is meaningless and blasphemous. 

IV. Jesus made everything 

Verse 3:  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

Again this is speaking to the divinity of Jesus. All things were made through him. All means all. 

The ground, the trees, the sand of the beaches, the stars in the sky, the air we breathe, the materials we use to build things, all of it was made by Jesus. 

He made every person. Each of us has billions of cells in our bodies. Incredible complexity and structure just within our own bodies. 

He made the universe! 

To put that in perspective, if you had an atlas of every galaxy in the entire universe and each page represented an entire galaxy, and if you spent just one second on every page and continually turned pages in the atlas, it would take you more than 31,000 years to flip all the way through the atlas. 

The universe is incredibly, unfathomably big. There are more stars in the sky than there are grains of sand in all the beaches of the world. Yet there are more trees on earth than there are stars in our one galaxy. And that’s just looking at the amazing size of of our universe. 

There is amazing creation within our world. New species of animals are still being discovered. 

Did you know that? And they’re not all insects or really small animals. Since 2000, there have been new species of primates discovered. We don’t even yet know everything on our own planet. 

Yet Jesus made it all. 

There are other passages in the New Testament which speak to this fact. 

Colossians 1:16

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

We see this language as well in the opening chapter of the Book of Hebrews.

Hebrews 1:10 referring to Jesus says: You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;

Jesus is the creator. He made everything. And John states it both ways. He made everything. And also there’s nothing that he didn’t make. 

He’s a mighty God. It’s a lofty passage. It’s a confrontational passage. You affirm these truths or you don’t. Our society often likes to treat Jesus as something you can take or leave. 

Gravity isn’t something that you can take or leave. Arithmetic isnt’ something that you can take or leave. Breathing isn’t something that you can take or leave. 

Jesus isn’t something you can just take or leave. Jesus isn’t just a nice person or a nice idea. He’s the Lord of creation. 

Many cherry pick certain teachings. Others treat him as a great teacher or a great religious leader. Jesus isn’t one good teacher among other great teachers. He’s God. 

The sages of other major religious traditions were born. Buddha wasn’t there in the beginning. Mohammad wasn’t there in the beginning. 

But in the beginning was the Word. 

There have been great leaders in the world who have influenced nations and movements. Abraham Lincoln, Martin Luther King, Gandhi. Some like to just act like Jesus was a wise peace maker who came with a good message. 

He’s so much more than that. 

In the beginning was the Word. 

And the Word created all things. 

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