Wednesday, October 21, 2015
Considering the eternal Christ
John 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
Today's post features a few observations from that glorious prologue of the Gospel of John. The aim for today is to simply consider the eternal Christ that John writes about in this passage. So much could be spoken of in regards to the depth and height of this revelation. Nonetheless for brevity's sake I give the reader three words or phrases upon which we can summarize the Eternal Christ spoken of here in these verses, namely: Truly God, Person and truly man.
1. The Eternal Christ is truly God.
The opening verses of John 1:1-2 describe the Eternal Christ as "The Word". That designation speaks of Christ as the ordering, rational endpoint of all creation. The grammar of John 1:1-2 emphasizes the fact that "The Word" is equal to God and is in fact God. Then John 1:3 states this same truth in the negative by stating what would not had occurred without the eternal Christ - namely creation itself. The pre-existence and power of the Eternal Christ is emphasized. In John 1:18 we are reminded further of how this Eternal Christ is truly God. Echoing no doubt passages in the Old Testament that spoke of no man or creature being able to behold the face of God - John 1:18 tells us that only One has done that - namely the only begotten One, the Son, the Word. The Word, the Son has for all eternity beheld the Father "face-to-face". Together with the Holy Spirit - the entire essence of the One eternal God fully and truly lives and exists equally and fully in the Father and in the Son. John's point is to show that this Eternal Son, having pre-existed from all eternity, is no less than truly God. But notice secondly...
2. The Eternal Christ is a Person
We have already alluded to this truth - but it bears repeating that the "Word" is not some abstraction, or mere creative principle, but is a Person. In stating the equality of the Word with God and the Word being God - we discover this second important truth in John 1:2 - namely that the Word is a "He". Throughout John 1:2-18 we find reference to this "Word" as being "He" and "Him" and "the only-begotten God". The Greek mind conceived of the word "word" (i.e "logos") as a creative principle or purpose that held all of reality together. Despite the centuries of Greek philosophical speculation as to what ultimately defined the essence and purpose of the universe - no great minds would had arrived at the point we see here in John.
The Jews as well had come to develop traditions based off of their reflections on the scriptures regarding how One God was able to reason within Himself to create the world. The Old Testament certainly hints and suggests another Personality within the One God. John here expressly spells out to the reader that this Word, this only-begotten God, is indeed a true Person. The Person of the Word has pre-existed with the Father from all eternity. He expresses Himself as truly God. However, there is a third idea that John brings out in explaining this glorious Eternal Christ, notice...
3. The Eternal Christ is truly God, in the Person of the Son, that became truly man.
There is the third idea - namely that the eternal Christ became truly man. Notice John 1:14 - "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." The Jews who read these words would had been blown away. The knew of the glorious visions and theophanies beheld by their forefathers. Moses saw Yahweh in the bush and on the mountain. Isaiah saw the heavenly vision of the true King in Isaiah 6. John states that the glory of God - so sought after by Moses and the saints of old, so feared and revered - appeared to him and the disciples. But how? In what manner? The glory of the Word appeared in human flesh. The Son of God did not come merely to be like a man, or appear to be so. He became a literal man by nature while ever retaining His truly Divine nature with which He co-shared with the Father and the Spirit. He came in the virgin's womb. By the miracle of the Holy Spirit's intervention - God in the Person of the Son was manifested in the flesh (1 Timothy 3:16). The fulness of Deity in the Son now resided in the frail humanity of Jesus of Nazareth (Matthew 1:21; Colossians 2:9). He who was the infant in the manger was ever still "Immanuel" - "God-with-us" (Matthew 1:23). The Person of the Son was united to a second way of expressing His existence - a second nature - namely human flesh. Older Christians refer to this as the "enmanning" of the Son or perhaps more familiar to us today - the "incarnation".
Truly God and never ceasing to be so - the Person of the Son became truly man. As the pure energy of electricity becomes expressed and united to a thin filament of tungsten in a light bulb - so did the Person of the Son become united to the frail filament of humanity. The uncreated light of Deity shone through the filament of humanity and the frail filament of humanity truly expressed the glory of it's bearer.
The Son, the Living Word of eternity past in John 1:1-3 and the One who has from all eternity dwelt face-to-face with the Father - chose to express His eternal existence in true, genuine humanity. This is the apex of John's prologue. The Eternal Son, Word - without beginning in regards to His true Deity - chose to experience what it was like to begin life touching his now assumed true humanity. Forever will the Son be known as the incarnate God. This is the One we worship and adore. Beginningless in Deity and yet with beginning in humanity. Uncreated in regards to His Divine nature and yet experiencing what life is like as a creature in true humanity. The Person of the Savior is indeed, truly, fully, completely God - forever and ever partaking of the Divine essence with the Father and Holy Spirit. At the same time - the Savior has chosen to also partake of humanity with his people, experience their sorrows, griefs, die for them, raise for them, ascend for them and come again for them. Would it be that we consider more and more the Eternal Christ who is truly God, the Person whom we adore that is also truly man.