by John Mehl on December 06, 2021
So you’re John The Apostle. It’s been decades upon decades since your partners in ministry were at your side. They’ve all been killed for their faith, many years ago – but not you. You were exiled away on an island for the end of your days. You’re well into your ‘seasoned years’, somewhere in your late-80s, perhaps 90s. And you’ve become quite the artful creative in your words and your spiritual creativity (as was especially evident in one of your other pieces of work, the book of the great reveal – Revelation). And exiled in your old age, as you look back on the ‘glory days’ where you walked and talked alongside your friend, Jesus – loved him, watched him die, and saw him resurrected – this is what comes out: John 1:1-18! It’s remarkable! It’s wondrous! It’s awesome!
That is the feel and the soundtrack that John wants us to catch as he begins his Gospel account. And in his account, John is out for 1 thing from us: BELIEVE (especially v.7, 12 & 98 times in his account). What, exactly, he wants us to believe is what follows in the rest of his account, and that’s the sort of thing Timberline Church is going to unpack this Advent season.
To set such a cosmic, vast scope like this, Old Man John draws back on the most vast, most basic thing he can think of. So John 1:1-18 is structured and artfully crafted with the creation account of Genesis playing throughout it. (There’s a great Bible Project Podcast from a month or two ago on John 1 and Genesis 1 if you have an hour or so to listen to it: https://bibleproject.com/podcast/beginning/)
If you read John 1:1-18 and expect standard literature, it can become repetitive and maybe even confusing. Similarly, reading song lyrics without the music or emotion that comes along with it in a song can just come out flat. You need to read John’s prologue like an artsy mood-setter for his whole account, where repetition is valuable, and accentuating, and reinforcing.
Genesis begins - “In the beginning…” and Old Man John says, ‘Yes! If you want to understand Jesus/Christmas, you have to understand ‘In the beginning…’’
‘All the way back to the beginning, even before creation or any matter existed at all, was my dear friend. My Lord. He was preexistent, before all things, basking in the life and love of the Trinity. And even before life was created through him (because nothing was made that was not made through him), before life itself came something else in the order of creation: Light! There’s no life without light. The first thing that God set up in the order of creation as a foundation for the condition of life to be possible, was light.
So John riffs a bit in his prologue as the ‘light’ penetrates the darkness and the void of nothingness, all seen in his artful mind’s eye: (v.4-9) “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. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world.”
Later in Old Man John’s account (chapter 8, verse 12), John recalls Jesus saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
As a teaser/theme-setter, that’s what Christmas Eve Services at Timberline will be all about (with a special takeaway we’ll have for you and all of your friends that you invite to join you). He is the light of the world – a light we so desperately need!
We hope to see you at our Christmas Eve services at either 3 of our campuses. Click below for service times and more!
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