Each of the Gospels begins with an account on Jesus’ origins. Mark introduces Jesus to us as an adult, telling us that Jesus was a man from Nazareth whose advent fulfils the arrival of God’s salvation as foretold by the prophet Isaiah. Matthew and Luke’s narratives begin earlier still, recounting Jesus’ very conception and birth in the prophecies of old and God’s will to deliver humanity.
John, however, begins his account of Jesus, the word, going back to the beginning of time itself. Before anything else had been created, He was. Jesus, as the divine Logos, was not only with God in the beginning, but was God. John’s prologue reveals to us that creation itself originated from his life-giving agency. This text is extremely important in shaping Christian conceptions of Jesus’ divinity, the incarnation, and the Trinity.
John stresses that to see Jesus is to see the Father. John’s opening introduces several themes that will dominate the narrative that follows. In addition to his exaltation of Jesus as the Divine Logos, four interrelated motifs – all speaking to Jesus’ purpose as the word of God – are particularly prominent. Firstly, John stresses that “the world came into being through him”. Jesus was integral to the formation of the earth and all its creatures. Secondly, John presents Jesus as the source of revelation and grace for humankind. He is “the true light which enlightens everyone”.
Also included here is the world’s rejection of Jesus: “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; Yet the world did not know him. He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him.” Finally, John’s prologue reveals that the Divine Word became incarnate among us and within humanity: “and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In Jesus, the barriers between the divine and human realms are breached to a degree never before realised.
Ultimately, the Divine Word becomes so enmeshed in the world that he willingly undertakes humiliation and death on a cross to enlighten all those who would receive him. From his “fullness we have received grace in return for grace.” The Word was the true light, that came into a world of darkness to light the way to salvation. Today, more than ever, we need this divine light in our lives to help us to see the path that leads to eternal joy.