It’s a dark, cold night. I feel the burn of the icy wind slap the window outside as I set out down the road. I see the trees bend and threaten to break as they are beat up by the storm. The pitter-patter of rain on the car sounds reminds me of the low, loud beat of a bass drum. I feel my fingers clinch the steering wheel tighter. I realize I am lost. The dark is getting darker around me. I come to a sign and see these words “Warning: Keep Out” with an arrow pointing right. As I slowly make my way to the right, I peer out the window at a 20-foot drop. Deep breath. I would be at the bottom of that construction site drop if it were not for those words. Words create turning points.
The test is positive…You’re pregnant. The tumor is malignant. We are getting a divorce. Will you marry me? Simple words that comprise simple sentences but packed full of power. Power to change the course we are walking. Words create turning points in the stories of our lives.
John’s gospel begins with these words.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1-5 ESV)
John calls Jesus the Word, logos.
John orients the reader to the gospel narrative by introducing God’s pre-existent Word as Jesus, the unique, one and only, begotten Son of God. John wants to make sure that his readers understand the intimate connection, the oneness, of the Father and the Son. To see and hear the Father is to see and hear the Son, and to see and hear the Son is to see and hear the Father. This is the claim that the religious leaders called blasphemy and leads to Jesus’ death, “Before Abraham was, I am” (8:58); “The Father and I are one” (10:30).
God cannot be separated from His Word. They are one.
To reiterate this oneness reality, John takes us back to the creation story, “In the beginning…” (Gen 1:1, John 1:1). God used words to turn a formless void into a heavens and an earth. He used words to create the universe. In the beginning God said, “Let there be light” and there was light (Gen 1:3).
In Genesis, God speaks creation into existence. In John, God speaks new creation into existence. And just as Adam is the climax of the creation story, Jesus is the climax of the new creation story. The creation of Adam is the turning point in Genesis, the incarnation of Jesus is the turning point in John. He is the firstborn, the new Adam, the true humanity. In Jesus new creation invades the present. The future becomes the now.
It is as if John is saying, in Jesus there is a new Genesis.
The incarnation is the turning point in the story of creation, the story of Israel, and the story of us. He is the Word that changes everything.
Creation is being renewed. No longer will it be subjected to decay because in Jesus there will be a new heavens and a new earth. Israel is confronted with the choice to let go of their Messianic expectations and accept the unique Son of God or perish. And we must choose too. We must accept life or death, walk in light or darkness.
Jesus, the Word, is the turning point in the story.
The incarnate Word is the means by which we can face the words that create turning points in our lives. I’m Sorry. It is cancer. You’re fired. I messed up bad…
These words change us. They interrupt our lives and threaten to define them. But Jesus, the Word from God, is a word stronger and louder and greater. He is the Word that overcomes the words of this world because He is with us. He is with us in the waiting room when bad news is received. He is with us in the office when the offer is not given. He is with us when we are headed toward the pit. He is God’s Word spoken to us. And His Word overcomes.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)
Kelly Edmiston Youth and Family Minister First Colony Church of Christ Sugar Land, Texas