23 June 2014

John 1:1-18

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (vv. 1-2)


Someone once compared John's Gospel to a pool of water which is safe enough for a child to paddle in yet deep enough for an elephant to take a swim. Each time we read John's Gospel we are aware that we can go deeper and deeper into the meaning of his words. It is important that we are not overwhelmed by it but there are great benefits to be had from jumping in and bathing in the soothing waters of the beautiful language and engaging theology.

This passage is often referred to as the "Prologue", or introduction, to the Gospel. These verses contain the meaning of everything Jesus was, is and did. The gospel is the story of God's relationship with the world and that story begins with creation and reaches its climax in the story of Jesus, when "the Word became flesh and lived among us" (v. 14).

There is so much in this passage it is important to read it slowly and attentively. The Gospel begins with a mystery, who is the Word? John's Gospel is careful to paint a clear image:

  • The Word was and is God. (verse 1)
  • The Word was with God from the beginning. (verses 1-2)
  • The Word is the creator of life and this life is light. (verses 3-4)
  • The Word became flesh and lived among us. (verse 14)


The Word sheds light on who God is. If we want to know what God is like all we need to do is look at Jesus. This is quite simple, but people did not recognise the Word; even God's chosen people, the Israelites, did not see God in Jesus. This theme of not recognising the Word dominates the gospel story. Jesus comes to his own people but they do not see him for who he is (verses 10-11).

We are part of this story too, we can choose to see the light, to recognise the Word and "become children of God" (v. 12). The choice is there throughout the Gospel, we are free to choose the darkness or the light.

To Ponder

  • Reading this passage today what are you noticing that you have not noticed before?
  • What can prevent you from seeing "the light" and what can make "the darkness" so much more attractive?

Bible notes author

The Revd Diane Clutterbuck

Diane is an ordained presbyter in the Methodist Church. She works as as a coach, supervisor and trainer mainly in the public and voluntary sectors with people and organisations who are committed to growth and development.