Text: John 1
We’ve been studying the presence of God this week. We’ve seen how God made the heavens and earth, especially the Garden, to be a temple, i.e. where God’s presence rests or where heaven (God’s realm or dimension) and earth are connected. We saw how we lost the full access pass to the presence of God when we were exiled from the Garden. We saw how God worked through Moses to provide a new way to access God’s presence, the Tabernacle, which acted almost like a portable Eden amidst the Israelite people. We saw how God’s people were exiled because they kept breaking their covenant with God, but how God remained present among his faithful while they were in exile. And we saw that even after the return from exile there was still something amiss. The Old Testament ends with a longing for something better to come along.
As usual, God is up to things that are much bigger than expected. Yesterday I teased that there is a new temple, but it isn’t like any temple we have seen yet.
Today I want us to look at John 1. Matthew, Mark, and Luke have similar ways of giving us the story of the appearance of Jesus. We usually read these accounts around Christmastime. Well, John does his own thing and doesn’t follow the same pattern as the other guys. He doesn’t do it with genealogies, mangers, or wise men or John the Baptist. John hits us right away with something called the Word, or the Logos (the greek word used).
Who or what is the Logos? In the context of this passage, it seems like something highly conceptual and lofty. It’s a spoken word, or a thought, or a concept. You might think of it as God’s will, or outward expression, or his wisdom or reason. It is hard to pin down. I like to think it is connected to Genesis 1, when God creates by speaking his divine purpose, function, and order into the world. The Logos is something belonging to God, like an extension of his nature. We’re only scratching the surface of the meaning, but this gets us started.
With our working definition(s) of what the Logos is, it starts to make sense that in verse 1, we learn that it is there in the beginning, and that it’s with God, and that it is God. It’s God’s nature to express himself, and we see that even from the beginning, we can’t separate this nature from God. It’s just who he is. In verse 3, we learn that everything was made through the Logos, and in verse 4, it is described as being the light of all mankind.
Leading up to verse 14, this concept of the Logos starts to sound more and more like someone we know. Verse 14 explains that this Logos has been made “flesh” and dwells among us (it has tabernacled among us). This sounds strange, right? What it means is that this concept of the Logos has been made a physical reality with us here, in Jesus. To be clear, this isn’t to say that Jesus existed at the beginning of time with God, or that he created the world, or that he is God. It means that when we look at Jesus, we see a perfect representation and expression of who God is. He is the fruition of God’s will, wisdom, and expression among us. He is called “Immanuel”, or “God with us” (see Mat 1:23). Jesus is like God’s best idea fleshed out, the perfect embodiment of his will.
Jesus, being the representation of God walking among us, is the newer and better version of the temple. After he was baptized, the Spirit of God came down and rested on him in the form of a dove (see verse 32). This is imagery that reminds us of how God filled the tabernacle with his presence at its completion. In John 2:18-22, Jesus explains that a sign for his authority is that if they destroy this temple, he will raise it up again in three days, referring to his body being crucified and risen. Col 1:19 says that “it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him.”
Jesus says in John 14:9 that anyone who has seen him has seen the Father. As Christians, we want to understand the heart of God and follow his will for our lives. Sometimes that can seem like a difficult task. What’s God really like? How do I know what his will is for my life? Thankfully, we can look at his son to get a better idea. Jesus was a human. He had struggles and temptations like you or I have (Heb 4:15). We’re able to read about the things he said, the miracles he performed, and what he thought was important. By figuring out what Jesus was all about, we get a much clearer picture of who his Father is.
We’re seeing this week that scripture gives us a long narrative of God’s attempts to be with us, to bring us closer to Him. He started by occupying a garden with two people and has gradually expanded out the circle to include tribes and nations as his children. Making the Logos near to us by giving us Jesus was the next step in continuing that process. Being the temple, Jesus carried around with him the presence of God, so that when people encountered him, they were also encountering the Father.
But God didn’t stop here. He’s relentless, wanting to be closer yet. In Mat 3:11, John the baptizer says of Christ, “As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”
I’ll leave you with that as a teaser for what comes next.