Genesis 1 and John 1: the new creation Jesus brings

blue and purple sky with stars

Jesus brings a new creation into the world and into the lives of those who believe in his gospel.  

I want to highlight a few words and phrases in this opening prologue to John:

In the beginning. Word. Life. Light. Darkness. 

Just to name a few.  

These are all found both in John 1, but also in Genesis 1. So let’s touch on some of these ideas. My goal is really to show this creation theme in John.  

Opening phrase of the Gospel of John: In the beginning was the Word.  

It’s interesting in comparing the beginning of John’s gospel to the beginnings of the other three. Mark’s gospel begins with the ministry of John the Baptist as the one who points to Christ. Luke’s gospel goes back further with the birth of John the Baptist and the birth of Jesus. Matthew’s gospel goes back further still to the family line of Jesus and takes us back to Abraham, back to the beginning of God’s covenant with his people. John’s gospel goes back even further, back to the very beginning, back to eternity.  

It’s the same way in which the Bible opens up, the first words in Genesis are: in the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.  (Genesis 1:1)

John starts with: in the beginning was the Word.  

Now, it’s interesting that John says “the word.” He doesn’t say “in the beginning was Jesus” or “in the beginning was the Christ” or “in the beginning was the Lord” but “in the beginning was the Word.”  

But, in the beginning was the Word. Why use the word Word? Borrowing an idea from D.A. Carson in his commentary on John. From the beginning of the Bible, we see references to God’s word. God is a talking God. He speaks in Genesis. “Let there be light,” and the text says “and it was so.” God calls things into being by the power of his word, and what he calls into existence exists.  

In the Old Testament, God’s word is tied to creation, salvation, healing, and deliverance. With the incarnation of Jesus, we see God’s greatest and most spectacular form of expression to the world. The Word is an appropriate title for Jesus because it is through this Word that we have ultimate truth, eternal life, future hope, assurance of God’s promises, and God’s greatest revelation of himself to the world.  

This Word is not some abstract idea or force. This Word exists. “And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” 

But just to sum up what verse 1 is saying is that Jesus is eternal, he has always existed in fellowship with God, and that he himself IS God. That’s really the major theme of John’s Gospel. Jesus is the Lord.  

Verse 3, we see Jesus’ involvement in creation. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 

Again it takes us again to creation. When you read Genesis 1, John 1 plugs right into those events. He wasn’t just hanging out while God the Father did all of the creating, rather nothing exists without Jesus.  

Verse 4. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Two more ideas that are found in creation. Life and light. Both of these ideas will also be significant themes in John’s gospel. Let’s start with life. Nearly half of the New Testament usages of the word life come from John’s writings. In Genesis, life is created. The animals that walk the earth, the birds of the air, the fish of the sea, culminating in God’s creation of man in his own image. All life is created in Genesis. And here, in referring to Jesus, it says that life itself is found in him.  

John 10:10, Jesus says that he has come so that his people can have life and have it abundantly. And it’s the life that can only come through Jesus. John 14:6, he says: “I am the way, the truth, and the life, no one comes to the father except through me.”  

And he has authority to say these things.  

Because. In the beginning was the Word. And in him was life. And he made everything. And he’s God.  

So John begins his gospel by talking of the God of creation entering into creation to make his new creation.  

Next theme of creation that’s found in John. Light.  

Quoting again from our passage: In him was life and that life was the light of men.

In Genesis, the first thing that God calls into being is light. 

Genesis 1:3-4: And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good 

Light is a symbol for life, salvation, and the presence of God.  

Yet John takes it to a fuller meaning.  In John 8:12, Jesus will say: I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life

Light is contrasted by darkness. Darkness in John refers to evil and sin. Darkness is the opposite of light both metaphorically and literally.  

In Genesis 1:4, we’re told that God separated the light from darkness. John chapter 1 says that “the light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it.”  

Jesus will talk at greater length of light in darkness in John 3, when he says: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” 

In that, we see why Jesus came. Because the world is sinful. People love their sin. People oppose the light, but Jesus came to bring light and life.  Again, John keeps pointing back to creation to show us a new creation that Jesus is bringing into the world.  

Perhaps the climax of this entire introductory prologue of John’s gospel is found in verse 14:  And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The language returns to using the word Word. And it says that this Word, Jesus, became flesh and dwelt among us. The God who created the world entered his creation. What a profound reality that is. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.  

In creation, before the fall, there was fellowship with God. It was paradise. And yet Adam and Eve sinned. Cast out of the garden. But here in John, we see that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us. Jesus came into our fallen world. Because he loved us. Because he’s gracious. Because he’s good.  

He is the eternal God of creation. And he came to bring a new creation. In the opening of John, we see the groundwork being laid for that which was lost in the fall to be regained through the gospel.

Paradise was lost due to sin, but in the beginning of John, we see that the word became flesh and dwelt among us. Darkness came into the world because of sin, but we see that Jesus is the true light. Death came into the world because of sin, but in Jesus, there was life. Not just anyone is capable of doing that. But Jesus isn’t just anyone. He was in the beginning. Jesus is the eternal God of creation who brings a new creation. He’s here to give you a new life. He overcame the darkness by living a sinless life. He brought life through his own death. He restored the relationship by being forsaken.  

All of it was his work. He invites you into a new life, a new covenant. He gives you a new heart.  

The Apostle Paul said that anyone who is in Christ is a new creation.  (2 Cor. 5:17) 

In John 3, a man named Nicodemus. He’s intrigued by this teacher and ministry and he wants to learn more. Jesus says that we must be born again. On the night before he was crucified, he told his disciples to love one another, and he called it a new commandment. In the closing sections of the Book of Revelation, John talks of seeing a new heaven and a new earth. He records Jesus saying that he’s making all things new. (Rev. 21:5). When we trust in Jesus and are born again, Jesus does bring a new creation. He does make something new. He makes a new person. Jesus is the Lord of creation and new creation.

Have you trusted in Jesus? Is he your Lord and savior?  

There is no other way to God, there is no other way to life, there is no other way to forgiveness, there is no other way to heaven than through Jesus. 

Thanks for reading! If you liked, please comment and share :)

Based on a sermon I preached called “The Word.

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