12/16/2018 – A meditation from John 1.
When I was 18 years old, I attended Nyack College and took my first Greek class. The very first two verses my instructor taught me was:
Ἐν ἀρχῇ ἦν ὁ λόγος, καὶ ὁ λόγος ἦν πρὸς τὸν θεόν, καὶ θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. (John 1:1 – Greek) – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (John 1:1, English)
Οὗτος ἦν ἐν ἀρχῇ πρὸς τὸν θεόν. (John 1:2) – This one (He) was in the beginning with God.
These verses, in both Greek and in English were indelibly grafted into my brain from that point forward. There is no Bethlehem narrative in John as there is in Matthew and Luke. Nevertheless, this chapter is John’s substitute for the nativity. He notes:
3 All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.
4 In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (Jn. 1:3-5 ESV)
3 πάντα δι᾽ αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο, καὶ χωρὶς αὐτοῦ ἐγένετο οὐδὲ ἕν. ὃ γέγονεν
4 ἐν αὐτῷ ζωὴ ἦν, καὶ ἡ ζωὴ ἦν τὸ φῶς τῶν ἀνθρώπων·
5 καὶ τὸ φῶς ἐν τῇ σκοτίᾳ φαίνει, καὶ ἡ σκοτία αὐτὸ οὐ κατέλαβεν. (Jn. 1:3-5 BGT)
Nine verses later, John goes on to tell us that –
14 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. (Jn. 1:14 ESV)
14 Καὶ ὁ λόγος σὰρξ ἐγένετο καὶ ἐσκήνωσεν ἐν ἡμῖν, καὶ ἐθεασάμεθα τὴν δόξαν αὐτοῦ, δόξαν ὡς μονογενοῦς παρὰ πατρός, πλήρης χάριτος καὶ ἀληθείας. (Jn. 1:14 BGT)
This is John’s nativity statement, his short narrative not just about who Jesus was, but about who he became. The Word became flesh. Think a bit about what means? It means that this one who was with the Father – the glorious one, full of grace and truth – entered into our lives as one of us to bring God’s glory to us.
In Him was life, and that life was the light for all persons. As a Christian, He has entered my life to bring life to me. The light shone my darkness, and I beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten Son, full of grace and truth.
And if you are a follower of Jesus, He has entered your life as well and you have seen that light.
In communion, we celebrate the light of God that has come, the light that shines in the darkness. In this fellowship, we embrace the life of God that has come to us.
Whether you believe this fellowship is just symbolic, or a remembrance, or a sacrament, what you are doing when you take the bread and the cup – this is a spiritual act. You are testifying that you are living in the light of Christ and participating in the life that he brings to the world.
You see, even later in this Gospel Jesus would say –
51 I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (Jn. 6:51 ESV)
As he has given us the bread of his flesh to bring us life, even so, we participate in bringing that life to the world. Communion is a reminder to us that we are not just to receive that life, but we are to give it as well.
We pay it forward.
That is why Paul in 1 Corinthians 11 warns us about partaking of this act in an unworthy manner. He tells us:
23 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread,
24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”
25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
27 Whoever, therefore, eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty concerning the body and blood of the Lord.
28 Let a person examine himself, then, and so eat of the bread and drink of the cup.
29 For anyone who eats and drinks without discerning the body eats and drinks judgment on himself. (1 Cor. 11:23-29 ESV)
As we prepare our hearts to participate in this sacred and spiritual act, purify yourselves to participate in the light and the life that Christ has brought to you.
“In him was life, and the life was the light of all people.” (Jn. 1:4 NRS)
If you are member of the household of God through Jesus Christ, please come forward to receive his life and his light.