I think we find Gods ways mysterious, not because they are so complex we cant understand them but because they are so good, and we are not, that they just dont make sense to us. God is good at a level that at times shocks us, or to be honest, may even trouble us. He does things we would never have even thought of doing. I believe its because we dont hate sin like He hates it, and we dont love people like He loves them, and frankly, most of us are way too proud to humble ourselves to the extent that He didwhich is why this opening passage in the gospel of John is so difficult to comprehend. There may be no portion of the Bible which has been more furiously debated, picked apart, re-translated or explained in the most bizarre ways, than this. Apparently the truth it contains disturbs a lot of people; they feel compelled to correct Johns theology, which is ironic because John wrote these words to correct their theology. So instead of trying to re-interpret what John reveals about God, lets listen to him with an open mind and let him show us things that will amaze us, that will drive us to ask the question: What kind of God would do such a thing?
Peering into eternity (Jn 1:1-5)
With these few verses John pulls back the curtain and allows us to peer into eternity and behold the very moment when all creation began. He doesnt try to explain the physical mechanics of how God did all of this; he simply reveals the spiritual source behind it. He tells us who made it. As we gaze into heaven we see the Father, and Someone John calls the Word to remind us that all this Person had to do was speak, and the universe came forth out of nothing. He only needed to say, Let there be light
and there was light (Ge 1:3). Lets listen carefully to these verses.
Notice: John makes simple, declarative statements. He doesnt try to convince us with arguments. He puts the truth in front of us and invites us to believe. Theres something about truth, real truth, that resonates inside the human heart. It doesnt need a lot of argument or philosophical defense. Why? Because its true.
When John pulls back the curtain and lets us look into heaven, what do we see? We see the Father and Son relating to one another in ways we would never expect. Theyre showing us by the way they treat each other (at least in part) what true goodness looks like. In passages like this we discover what the word holy really means. We find it means God is radically good, far beyond anything weve ever seen in this fallen world. Within the very heart of God, we observe:
Unity (Jn 14:6-11)
The Father and Son work together seamlessly. There is only one agenda: the Fathers will, which they pursue together in perfect harmony. There arent two wills struggling against each other. Theres no competition or jealousy, and thats not because the Father dominates the Son; its because the Son loves the Father and delights to do His will.
The problem for us humans is that we have never seen nor participated in this kind of loving unity. Its completely foreign to us. When we think of two persons we can only think of two competing agendas, two egos, both needing attention and striving for control because thats how we function. But heres how the Father and Son function: John 14:6-11.
Humility (Php 2:5-8)
John reveals who Jesus really is and the price He paid to leave heaven and come to earth. Hes showing us a level of humility, selfless love, that leaves us speechless. It really is shocking. The divine Son, who spoke the worlds into being, became a baby. This Glorious One left a face-to-face fellowship with the Father. He set aside His divine glory to become a human, and He can never go back. To save us, He had to become one of us, and that change is irreversible.
Submission (1Co 15:24-28)
Though He is divine, equal in nature to His Father, the Son willingly, lovingly, joyfully surrenders His will to the Father. Listen:
Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son does in like manner (Jn 5:19).
For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of Him who sent Me (Jn 6:38).
And this willing, loving, joyful submission of the Son to the Father didnt end when Jesus returned to heaven. It will last forever. Listen: 1 Corinthians 15:24-28.
Love (Jn 3:16)
All of this presses us to ask the questions: Why did the Father send His Son? And, why did the Son willingly surrender such glory to become one of us? The answer begins to be revealed by Johns description of Jesus as the Light of Men (Jn 1:4) but later on is completely exposed by this statement:
For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (Jn 3:16).
So Gods radical goodness includes these four elements, along with many others: unity, humility, submission and love. And remember, God wants these same qualities formed in us as well. His goal is for us to become just like Him, and John is showing us who He is and how heaven operates.
A place to stand
Living on this planet forces every one of us to live by faith, whether we are religious or not. Each of us must find a starting point, something we believe is true. To live in a world with no absolutes, to question everything is to move toward insanity. People who end up there become terribly despondent, often wishing they could die. And the problem is, there is nothing that can be absolutely proven beyond the shadow of a doubt. If we pursue truth through philosophy or science, sooner or later we discover human knowledge always hits a wall. Even physics and math, when you progress further and further into them, end up with theories that sound suspiciously spiritual.
By showing us the moment of creation, John presents certain truths and invites us to choose them as the foundation for our lives. He asks us to believe that there is a God who made everything, everything good that is. He asks us to believe that God the Father has a Son who is as divine as He is, and that it was through this Son that the Father spoke the physical world, and even the spiritual world, into existence. He asks us to believe God sent that Son to save us. Such great truths are not something well ever fully grasp this side of eternity, and maybe not there either; but whether or not we can fully understand them, we can still choose to believe them and build our lives on them. To do so requires us, at some point, to stop questioning everything and humbly accept the revelation weve been given. And when we do, the confusion, the insanity of living in a world where nothing is true, finally comes to an end. We find our feet standing on a solid rock. The great questions of life begin to be answered. But the God to whom John is introducing us never leaves us standing in one place. He keeps revealing Himself to us, drawing us closer. Our first step of faith opens a door for the next, and then the next, until we find ourselves beholding His glorious goodness, amazed at who He is, and what Hes done, and why He did it.
Above all else John wants us to see who Jesus is. He wants us to understand that the man who died on the cross for us existed before all things were created, that the man they drove nails into was the One who had spoken them into existence. John has shown us the beautiful unity between the Father and the Son. Hes shown us the incomprehensible humility it took for Jesus to leave heaven and come to earth. Hes shown us that submission is in no way connected to inferiority, but rather is something holy which belongs first of all in heaven. And finally, hes shown us the motive behind it all, why the Father sent His Son and why Jesus gladly came: It was because of love.
And now that weve seen these things theres a question that confronts us all: Do we really believe? Will we accept these truths by faith? Now that John has pulled the curtain aside, do we
believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God
and that by believing in Him we will have life in His name (Jn 20:31)?
1) If someone asked you to explain what it means that God is holy, what would you say?
2) Where was Jesus at the moment of creation? Where is He now?
3) Why does Jesus submit to the Father? Does it mean Hes inferior to the Father? Who do you submit to?