Day 1: Jesus is God
Lisus este Dumnezeu (Romanian)
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. – John 1:1-2
The season of Advent is an important time for believers from all around the world to meditate on the miracle and significance of the birth of Jesus. Who is He and why does it matter that He came? The beginnings of the four Gospels are a good place to start such a reflection. How do they introduce this Jesus? Three start with similar narrative beginnings, but John’s gospel begins very differently.
By starting with the expression “In the beginning,” John calls to mind the book of Genesis and points to a time prior to creation, to the eternity of God. John’s intention is to affirm that before the beginning of created order, in eternity, was the One that is the centre of his gospel, Jesus Christ. And the four introductory expressions that immediately follow are affirmations that Jesus Christ is God.
- “In the beginning was the Word” affirms the eternal existence of the One that incarnated in the person of Jesus Christ. He is not part of the created order but is from eternity. The word “was” used by John expresses Christ’s eternal existence outside time and space. Take a few moments and think at the grandeur of Christ’s eternity. This One whose birth in human flesh we celebrate at Christmas has always existed. He brings eternity into humanity so that He can save humanity for eternity. What comfort when the days seem futile and short that the One who has existed from eternity past now wears our humanity for eternity in the future.
- “The Word was with God” affirms the relationship of Jesus with the eternal Father. The preposition “with” that John uses expresses the eternal co-existence and intimacy of a unique relationship, as well as a distinction between the two divine persons, the Son and the Father. Jesus has a unique relationship with the eternal Father, being with Him from eternity and the One “in closest relationship with the Father” (John 1:18). Take a few moments and meditate on the uniqueness of the relationship between the Father and the Son. Our longing for intimacy and our delight when we enjoy close family relationships (and disappointment when we don’t!) exist because we bear the image of the God who made us. What encouragement to continue to pursue intimacy despite the challenges.
- “The Word was God” affirms the truth that Jesus is of the very essence and nature of God. This affirmation is endorsed by the writer of the letter to the Hebrews, who presents Jesus as “…the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being…”(Hebrews 1:3a). Take a few moments and meditate on the affirmation of the Apostle Paul about Jesus: “…in Christ all the fullness of the deity lives in bodily form” (Colossians 2 :9). Thank God that, as we get to know Jesus as He is revealed to us in the Scriptures, we see and know what God is really like.
- “He was with God in the beginning” emphasises the truth that this is a Person (“He”) that “was with God in the beginning” and “was God.” And the rest of John 1:1-18 will spell out that Jesus is that God-in-the-flesh Person. Take a few moments to meditate on the personhood of God. Neither an impersonal force nor an unyielding formula governs all things. Jesus does. In the times when we do not understand what is happening and why it is happening, at least we can know the Person who not only understands but upholds and works all things for His purposes, as the writer to the Hebrews testifies (Hebrews 1:3). And we know that we can trust Him because, though God, He came in the flesh to lay down His life that we might live.
Introducing his gospel this way, John signals his intention to prove, so that we can believe and have life, that Jesus Christ is God. For contemporary Christian communities around the world, and for the believers in Central Eastern Europe and Romania in particular, John’s affirmations in the beginning of the prologue of his gospel are of paramount importance. To live a meaningful spiritual life in the contemporary world, full of its uncertainties and unexpected tragedies, will mean to rediscover and embrace Jesus’s divine identity. In Jesus, God is for us (Romans 8:31), God is with us (Matthew 1:23), and God is in us (Colossians 1:27). And this is our hope not only for the future glory but also for our daily earthly existence. Understanding and experiencing the divine presence is what makes the difference between a life lived in faith and trust in God in the midst of a troubled world, and a life that is hopeless, full of fear and discouragement.
Dr Daniel G. Oprean is Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Humanistic and Social Studies, “Aurel Vlaicu” University, Arad, Romania. He is teaching systematic theology, apologetics, pastoral theology, Christian thought, and ecclesiology. As a Langham Scholar, he completed his PhD with scholarship and pastoral support from Langham Partnership.