31 December 2011

John 1:1-18

"And 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." (v. 14)


The Irish songsmith Van Morrison has a song called "Wonderful Remark", which has absolutely nothing to do with Christmas or Christian faith. But whenever I hear it I am reminded of this passage from the beginning of John's Gospel. A 'wonderful remark' seems to me to be an apt alternative to "the Word became flesh".

These opening verses of the Gospel deliberately echo the first words of the Bible in Genesis 1: "In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth ..." John is identifying Jesus Christ with God and placing him at the heart of creation: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ... And the Word became flesh and lived among us" (vv. 1, 14).

In the first chapter of Genesis when God speaks, things happen: "Then God said, 'Let there be light'; and there was light" (Genesis 1:3). God acts, reveals and communicates through speaking. For John, Jesus Christ is the ultimate embodiment of God's action, revelation and communication - he is the Word made flesh. "No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who is close to the Father's heart, who has made him known." (v. 18)

A remark, I would suggest, is usually a spontaneous, unguarded communication which reveals a person's true thoughts, feelings and heart. A wonderful remark is a spontaneous, unguarded communication full of wonder. Jesus Christ is God's 'wonderful remark' - God's spontaneous, unguarded communication with humankind and all of creation - which reveals God's true thoughts, feelings and heart, and which is indeed full of grace, full of truth and full of wonder!

To Ponder

The story is told of a Rabbi, so overcome by the words "And God said ..." that he left the study group gesticulating wildly, and shouting and screaming, "And God said, and God said ...". Ponder for a moment the enormity of the claim that God communicates with us.

Reflect on your own experiences of being communicated with by God. If possible, discuss your experiences of God with someone else.

In the year that is about to start, how might you tune your senses to more readily hear God speaking?

Bible notes author

The Revd Graham Jones

Graham Jones is a Methodist presbyter serving as a member of the Discipleship and Ministries Learning Network in the Yorkshire Plus region of the Methodist Church, with particular responsibility for ministry development. Graham is committed to developing ministry in its broadest sense, enabling both lay and ordained to live out their vocations, and to share in God's mission in the most fulfilling and effective ways.