In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” (John 1: 1 – 2)

So starts the mystical gospel of John; the purpose of which, I was told in seminary, was to establish the mysticism or spiritual nature of Jesus the Christ. And these opening verses do seem to set that tone quite well. It is, I think, one of the components of the theological telescope that I have been taking about. A lens, perhaps, to see things that the naked eye may not notice.

“All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it.” (Verses 3 – 5)

. . . . and the darkness did not overcome it.” Grammatically that tells me that there was darkness at some point but that the light (or should we say, the Light) did not get lost in the darkness. The darkness could not withstand the Light. It tries, but it fails. But, moving on.

“There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God.” (Verses 6 – 13)

Nicodemus asked Jesus how a person could be born again – referencing the blood/flesh/intent of humanity. It seems sort of obvious, beloved reader, that before one can be born again – one must be born. John’s words could go either way – on the topic of predestination. Are all predestined to be children of God, and some miss out or decide against accepting the Lord God and Jesus Christ? Or are only some? Or is it dependent on our giving up our human will and putting God’s will in its place? The slant that the writer of the gospel of John takes seems to indicate that the order is as follows – birth and growth to the age of understanding; and then the decision to accept or reject belief in the Divine. Jesus came, maybe, to tip the balance.

“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. (John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.’ ” (Verses 14 – 15)

One of the traits of a telescope is that it can be used to see what is ahead, and what is behind. Better than a rear view mirror that shows only what has just happened/been passed, a telescope sees a great distance and brings things closer and into focus and perspective.

“From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 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.” (Verses 16 – 17)

The law versus grace & truth – it seems to me that some people would rather have the law than grace. Yet, grace meaning gentleness and tenderness with the hint of forgiveness is matched with truth, and not with the law. That, beloved reader, should tell us a good bit about the God who sent us Jesus. Something to hold dear in our hearts as this year passes into the next. Shalom & Selah!