The story goes that John – the apostle, was aging before their eyes and while his disciples, those who sat at his feet kept asking for more stories of Jesus, as he had told them when he was younger, now up in years, he kept repeating ‘its all about love.’
Generally, we hold the gospel of John to be the last gospel attributed to one of the twelve. According to the writer, John was the one Jesus loved. Pretty curious that our Lord would display any measure of favoritism or preference. Perhaps it was the way that John hung around Jesus, always close, always focused, always listening when others had questions, maybe John only wanted to listen to hear, to seek to understand.
So, it is not surprising that as he put together the gospel we now call John that he would start with a song, a part of worship, a responsive reading that works in worship but is not completely rational, easily explained or even less easily understood. This text is one that must be believed and then understood if that second part ever happens.
By the time this gospel was being heard Jesus had been ascended for 30 to 60 years. Who he was, his relation to God, the marvel-filled stories of his teaching, miracles, deliverances and provision were now second or third generation accounts. The charm of Jesus, the memory of his tone, his attitude, his presence was no doubt becoming more and more a vague memory of what was real.
So, in the context of love and the one who loved and was loved, John sets out to be as clear as one can be for the community around him.
First, Jesus was not a first-generation new deal, fad, or attraction. Using the phrase ‘In the beginning..’ John connects Jesus the Messiah to the full tradition of Jewish roots for God. The inclusion of the word ‘word’ John reaches out to the students of his day who were raised on Greco-Roman thinking and tapping into the idea of wisdom from another branch of Judaism.
Jesus is not new, Jesus is rooted in God, with whom he created the world and with wisdom, with whom he seeks to give explanation to the deeper parts of faith and successful living. The wisdom of Proverbs is not a credential for receiving students at one’s feet, it is a recipe for joyous, fulfilling life. If one believes that God, Jesus and the Spirit can work in our souls to give us a broad place of thinking and living, one can be free to address the stresses of any generation, one can respond with grace rather than react with rage.
Jesus, the one born of Mary, dwelt in our midst and encountered the types of situations we encounter even today. The difference is that rather than having a physical presence we have the light that still shines in all of our dark moments and trials that come our way.
In the midst of those trials we are not rescued or opened to escape roots, rather we by faith believe that the evil that seeks to trip us will never apprehend, comprehend, overwhelm the light that shows us the way from Christ.
The gospel of John is gobbledygook, to those that want proof, experimentation that provides consistent results, and reactions that are rational and able to be written in clear sentences.
Jesus walked in the mud of his day. He interacted with the power wielding, the ones who had no needs and the helpless with the same promise of love that John displays so clearly in his life.
Our only reaction is to love him, whatever that means for us, where we are, when we are, and who we are in that moment. In the name of the Ignition of the universe, the Life giver and liver of today, and the Spirit who never stops blowing the dust off our doubt. Amen.
God of all, remove the veils… Savior of creation, disclose the dead spots… Wind of God, breathe in us…
John 1: 1-18 The Word Became Flesh 1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6 There was a man sent from God whose name was John. 7 He came as a witness to testify concerning that light, so that through him all might believe. 8 He himself was not the light; he came only as a witness to the light.
9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.
14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.
15 (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’”) 16 Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.