John 1:1-3 (NIV): In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
In all of the hubbub that surrounds human speculation and opinion of who Jesus was, amid all of the search for the “historical Jesus,” so many people overlook the fact of who Jesus is, as God has clearly communicated through His servant, John. (And the correct verb is “is,” not “was.” Jesus is still today all that He ever was. In fact, Jesus is, strictly speaking, not a “historical” personage at all. He is as alive today as ever!)
Jesus is the living Word of God. That means that He is the most direct form of communication that God ever had with humanity. In Jesus, God didn’t just speak, as He did frequently through the prophets and writers of Scripture. In Jesus, God actually came to His people and spoke with them directly, without an intermediary, without a translator, without a prophet.
Because Jesus spoke God’s words directly to the people who should have been prepared to hear them through their careful study of the Scriptures, He was often amazed that these people didn’t seem to be able to understand Him. “Why is my language not clear to you?” (John 8:43a NIV)
But Jesus was not just a messenger; He was more than a prophet. As John says clearly, Jesus is God, and has been God since the beginning. This is confusing to some. They wonder, if Jesus was God, and He was here on earth, who was minding the store? But such questions completely misunderstand the nature of God. God is everywhere at the same time, in all places, in all dimensions. He fills the universe. Even though Jesus, through the incarnation, limited Himself to a human body, God was still present everywhere, in addition to being fully present in that human body. He was “minding the store,” even while Jesus slept.
The concept of the Trinity is a difficult one for human minds to grasp, sometimes even more so when people try to invent illustrations and analogies to try to make it understandable! The fact is, Jesus is God; God the Father is God; the Holy Spirit is God. Yet they are not three Gods; they are God. And they are One. So where any one is, all are. Where any one acts, they are all acting. Nothing in the created world can illustrate who God is, or how He works as a tri-unity – the reality must simply be accepted.
John had come to understand that the man he knew as Jesus was more than He seemed. By the time John wrote his gospel, he grasped that Jesus was God in the flesh. This was confirmed to him when he saw Jesus as He truly is in his vision on Patmos (Revelation 1:12-18). As God, John realized that Jesus did not come into existence when Mary first conceived Him. Instead, He had always been, from all eternity. The incarnation was merely the method used to introduce Him into the world.
John also could see that, as God, Jesus was not just someone who knew about the universe – He was the Creator of it all. Some have tried to parse out which Person of the Trinity was responsible for which aspects of creation. But that is unnecessary. God is One. When one planned, all planned in unison. When one spoke, all were speaking. When one exerted power, it was the power of the whole Godhead together. “Through Jesus all things were made, without Him nothing was made that has been made” John was not crediting a specific creation task to Jesus. It was one more way of him trying to communicate as clearly as he could that Jesus was no “avatar,” or phantom. He was not a prophet, or even an angel. Jesus was and is God Himself – the same God who spoke everything into existence.
When people listen to Jesus, they are listening to God. When people worship Jesus, they are worshiping God. When they obey Jesus’ commands, they are obeying God. And when they reject Him, they are rejecting God Himself. (cf. Matthew 10:40) This is the opening message of John’s gospel.
Father, I can see very clearly that, even if we can’t completely understand it, the truth is that Jesus is God. The mystery of the incarnation, how the fullness of the God of the universe could inhabit a human body, is still a mystery. But even more mysterious to my mind is the fact that You were fully present in Jesus, yet completely filled the universe at the same time. But no definitive understanding of all of that is necessary for me to understand and accept what John is saying in these first verses of his gospel: Jesus was God, is God, and always will be God. Amen.