In the Beginning

In the first chapter of the Gospel of John two men speak to us. The first is the Apostle John. One of the twelve apostles, he wrote this Gospel as well as three epistles and the Book of Revelation. His close association with Jesus provided him with first-hand experience and an eyewitness account of Jesus’ unique nature.

He starts off with a statement that alludes to the Book of Genesis, “In the beginning.” The allusion is both unmistakable and intentional. With today’s knowledge of the cosmos, we can affirm on one level that the universe had a beginning, what some have dubbed “The Big Bang.” (Though some question this as scientifically sound, solid evidence exists: Big Bang Denial Lives by Neil English – Salvo Magazine.)

John asserts that the Word was there in the beginning and was the creative power of all that exists. John also asserts that the Word was Jesus (1:14), and the church has formalized this into the doctrine of the Incarnation: God became a human being. Christians celebrate this every Christmas.

To make such a connection between “the beginning” and Jesus’ role in it sounds foreign even to many Christians, but the import of such a belief drives us to a full understanding of who this man really was.

He Was Before Me

In the Gospel of Luke, we read Luke’s account of the birth of John the Baptist as well as the birth of Christ. As with Jesus, John’s birth is precipitated by the appearance of an angel. The angel tells Zechariah that he and his wife will conceive a son. John the Baptist is the result of their union. We even see that Mary, the mother of Jesus, visits John’s mother, Elizabeth, while Elizabeth is five months pregnant ahead of Mary’s pregnancy. John is born first.

Here in the Gospel of John, the Baptist states that Jesus ranks “ahead of me because he existed before me,” John 1:30. Is this a gross misunderstanding by the Baptist about his age in relationship to Jesus? Actually, he is simply affirming the point made earlier in the Gospel of John. Jesus existed at the beginning of time, and because of his role in creation and because he was God, Jesus has an exalted status. As the Baptist says, “he ranks before me.” Jesus ranks ahead of John because he did truly exist before him, not in his earthly form, but in his heavenly existence.

Both men in the first chapter of this Gospel point to the deity of Jesus. If the doctrine of the Incarnation is true, we conclude with certainty that no other prophet compares to him and no other human can demand our complete allegiance and our obedience.

I’ve been doing a “Conversations” post on John’s Gospel. You can access the video on the first chapter here:

SPECIAL OFFER: The births of John the Baptist and Jesus happened under unique circumstances. In the Old Testament, the birth of Samuel was also unique. This last judge of Israel played a pivotal role in bringing about the Kingdom of God. If you would like a free PDF copy of the chapter from my book, Coming Attractions, in which I describe how Samuel came to be born, send an email to [email protected] with “Samuel’s Birth” in the subject box.

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