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John’s Gospel of Grime and Glory

I love words. I love them so much that I never embark on a vacation with any less than four books. When I fly, I jam a Bible and a journal, a fun book, a serious book, and a back-up book in my carry-on. Given my love for words, I’ve always been struck by the opening of John’s gospel: “In the beginning was the Word.”

From a young age, I could tell you that “the Word” meant Jesus. Wasn’t the word also God’s first echo into the void? “Let there be light!” John says Jesus is the light too. How could he be the Word and the light? Plus, if he was with God and was God, how could he be both? Therein is mystery.

In John’s time, Greek reason hinged on an impersonal force that ordered the physical world called logos. Cleverly, John starts his gospel like this, “In the beginning was the logos, and the logos was with God, and the logos was God.” He spins their understanding of this impersonal, ordering force to mean Jesus. It becomes clear that this is far more powerful than the Greek’s logos, and here’s the crux: this logos is a born, breathing, laboring, gritty man.

Also at this time, a religious sect called the Gnostics elevated the unseen world of the mind so high that the lowly seen world could not touch it. To them, the world that they lived in was a shadowland a la Stranger Things’ Upside Down. God was unseen, and he could not have created the world because he could not touch the seen. John disagreed.

Jesus, God himself, the logos, is unseen descended to seen. Unseen in seen. Impossible. How could God, the God of the world, also be on earth? Therein is mystery.

The heart of John’s gospel is that he embraced the mystery. The only person who could attack the Gnostic viewpoint was the one “whom Jesus loved.” Nobody knew the humbled earthliness of Christ like John. He was the brother who drank jars of wine at the wedding, ate an abundance of fish and bread, and even cared for Jesus’ mother after the crucifixion.

He knew God came to earth in grime and glory.

His firsthand experience spoke for Jesus’s true incarnation. Instead of recounting a detailed account, John tells a story, the gritty and glorious story of his friend Jesus.

Join us each Thursday at 7:00 pm to break bread, sing to the Lord, and study the gospel of John. Contact Sparks House for more info.

- Sarah Hauver

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