Summary of the Text
J.B. Phillips paraphrases the first line of John 1:1, “At the beginning God expressed himself”. God’s word is more than mere speech. His word is action. When God speaks in Genesis 1, stuff happens, creation disintegrates chaos, something arises from nothing, things go from “good” to “very good”. John’s Prologue describes the “Word” as present at the beginning of creation, fundamentally instrumental in the formation of the material world in all its form and beauty, and indispensable to the inception of the glorious show of human life without whom life would not exist.
This same Word is light overcoming darkness. This same Word is life itself. In John’s mind, Logos, the Greek word from which Word is translated is not some abstract philosophical thought expressing the universal divine reason. It is the incarnation of God himself in the birth of Jesus, the Advent of God in human form.
The preacher may wish to focus on the wonder of this embodiment. Imagine yourself in the nosebleed section of an off-Broadway performance of Hamilton with an empty seat to your right. During the beginning of Act II a man shuffles into the left of you and passes in front of your view and plops down in the seat on your right. You are initially annoyed. After a moment he asks you, “What do you think of the show?” Increasingly perturbed, you turn to look and politely ask for him to be quiet. After the curtain call, the man jets out the opposite way before you can say anything.
When you finally make your way outside of the theater and into the lobby you see a crowd surrounding someone. You hear the name “Lin-Manuel Miranda” being vocalized, you jump up to see over the teem of bodies and realize the man being swarmed, the creator of the musical, is the very man who sat at your side throughout Act II. This is a taste of the incarnation, the playwright becomes part of the play, even part of the audience. Will we behold the Word made flesh, the only begotten Son of God, in all his glory or in our own pre-occupation miss his presence among us?
Man’s maker was made man that He, Ruler of the stars, might nurse at His mother’s breast; that the Bread might hunger, the Fountain thirst, the Light sleep, the Way be tired on its journey; that Truth might be accused by false witnesses, the Teacher be beaten with whips, the Foundation be suspended on wood; that Strength might grow weak; that the Healer might be wounded; that Life might die.
Augustine of Hippo, Sermons 191.1
The Self-Miniaturization Of God
Origen, in the third century, had a great analogy. He told of a village with a huge statue—so immense you couldn’t see exactly what it was supposed to represent. Finally, someone miniaturized the statue so one could see the person it honored. Origen said, “That is what God did in his Son.” Paul tells us Christ is the self-miniaturization of God, the visible icon or image of the invisible God (Colossians 1). In Christ we have God in a comprehensible way. In Christ we have God’s own personal and definitive visit to the planet.
Dale Bruner, “Is Jesus Inclusive or Exclusive?” Theology, News, and Notes of Fuller Seminary (October 1999), p.4.