The first 18 verses of John’s Gospel form a theological prologue that, like an overture to an opera, introduces the key themes without explanation. It also introduces us to the mystery that is Jesus; indeed, it prepares us to sometimes be surprised and sometimes confounded as we read more about him. We’ll only highlight a few verses in these devotions.
Prepare to listen. Remind yourself God is present, closer to you than you are to yourself. Pray: Create in me a clean heart, O God, and put a new and right spirit within me.
Prayerfully Read John 1:1-5, 14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it…. 14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth.
I once heard a story of a man in India who asked a Christian missionary where to begin reading the Bible. He was told to read John’s Gospel. Months later, the missionary saw him again and asked how his reading was going. The man replied that he didn’t get very far; stopped after the first verse. He was put off by the three-fold repetition of the Word. You Christians, he said, are full of words with no space for the silence so loved in our tradition.
Of course, he missed the point. The Greek term translated word is logos, a word rich with meaning. So rich that Richard Rohr suggests substituting inner blueprint for ‘the Word,’ since, he says, this is more closely aligned with Greek understanding . The term also links to creation. As the Psalmist claimed, “By the word of the LORD the heavens were made” (Ps 33:6). Creation and redemption are linked in Jesus, who is the Word and who makes all things new. Israel’s ancient prophets repeatedly claim, ‘the word of the Lord came to me, saying.’ Our God does speak. Jesus, the Word, speaks. But, also maintains silence when that’s more effective.
In the beginning was the Word, the Word that became flesh and seeks to be enfleshed in us today so that the world may see Jesus in us.
What do you see in this passage? What gets your attention?
Respond to Jesus
Jesus you are the Word; you became flesh and lived among us. You still live among us and speak your Word to and through us. Live and speak in and through me today. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world, and may the Word be enfleshed in you.
Reflection on Scripture has been a constant in my life ever since I can remember. Reflecting on Jesus in the Gospels has become a necessity to get Jesus right. Join me in reading John to see Jesus more clearly this Lent.