I'll never forget the time we were living in Florida and when we had underwent the devastating effects of hurricanes going through our area. Electrical power had been knocked out for a 150 mile radius. Our home area at the time had been plunged into thick, humid darkness. The first day after the first hurricane had passed through, I stepped outside our house - exhausted and ready for sleep. Suddenly my jaw dropped. Though there was no lights, yet I could see my hand. How? The Milky Way Galaxy stretched as a diamond tennis bracelet across the jet-black sky. It was if I had been launched into the cosmos and was beholding the vast expanse of space. For a better part of an hour I stared into the sky, beholding each star, gas-cloud and patch of brightness. It is amazing to think that the portion of the Milky Way that I was beholding represents a small part of the entirety of its structure. For 100,000 light years of space the Milky Way sprawls its galactic arms of 400 billion stars.
All at once everything I thought I knew about the night sky was dwarfed. I felt as if I knew next to nothing. Though I had studied astronomy in college and had read about it in journals and books, heard lectures and watched documentaries and had even viewed various objects through telescopes - none of that prepared me for that night. I realized that I possessed at best an infantile knowledge of the vastness of space. Moreover, the glory of God's power, nature and creativity was opened up to me.
How I approach John 1:1-18
As I approach John's prologue of John 1:1-18, I feel much like I did that night. John 1:1-18 is a Milky Way Galaxy of truth, and my theological understanding of Christ is infantile in comparison.
When we consider the Son of God (the purpose of John's Gospel is to introduce us to Jesus Christ as "The Son of God"), we must understand that the Son of God is God the Son. The first title "Son of God" is short-hand for "The Son who-is-equal-to-and-in-relationship-with-the Father-who-is-God." Jesus Christ as the Son of God describes Him as He is relative to His role and function within the Trinity. The second title "God the Son" is short-hand for "God-as-expressed-and lived-through-and-subsisting-in-the Person of-the Son". This second title describes Jesus Christ as He is with respect to Himself. He is in the words of the Baptist Faith and Message 2000 "The Eternal Son of God".
John 1:1-18 introduces us then to Jesus Christ, the Son of God as God the Son. He is eternal with respect to His divine nature with-which-He shares with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Amazingly, the Son, known in eternity as "The Word", who reveals the glory of the Father (see John 14:8; Hebrews 1:1-3); never ceases being such upon His assumption of humanity in His incarnation. How Jesus does this is not revealed by the prologue. All we know is that the Person of the Son never ceased nor diminished His deity when He took unto His Person the true humanity of the man Jesus of Nazareth. Conversely, the man Jesus of Nazareth was truly human, since He was the human expression of the Person of the Son, who is forever God (see Romans 9:5).
As we come to John 1:1-18, we ought to conclude right away that there is so much more about Jesus that needs to be known. Not just information, but transformation. Jesus Christ cannot be exhausted. We need His written word to make sense to us the Living Word.
The Son of God is God the Son in eternity
So when we consider the first part of John's prologue - John 1:1-9, and even more specifically John 1:1-3, how can we begin to construe the incredible revelation of Jesus Christ as God the Son? Below I will provide just an outline, since further study and reflection will need to be done to even do justice to this amazing text.
1. God the Son in eternity. John 1:1-3
a. The phrase “God the Son” is short-hand for “God expressed and existing as the Person of the Son”. In John’s opening verses, God the Son is called by the title “The Word”.
b. “The Word” that is equally God. John 1:1-2
-Psalm 33:6; 45:6 -Hebrews 1:1-3 -Rev 19:13
c. Working forth creation as God. John 1:3
-1 Cor 8:6-7 -Colossians 1:16 -Heb 1:8
The accompanying passages in the outline represent cross-references that can illuminate John's words. We won't say anything more at this juncture about John 1:1-3, only to note that John here is presenting the Son of God as God the Son in eternity.
The Son of God is God the Son revealed in the Old Testament
Amazingly as John proceeds from John 1:4-9, we discover his summary of the activity of the "Word", the Son of God, as He was prior to His incarnation. In other words, Jesus Christ made various appearances in and throughout the Old Testament era. Below is a summary outline:
2. God the Son in the Old Testament
a. Personal designer of life. John 1:4, 8:12,
b. Promised light. John 1:5,9; Rev 22:16
c. Prophecy’s LORD. John 1:6-8; Mal 4:2
Again, we won't go into too much more detail. As it stands, the activity of "The Word" indicates that Jesus Christ pre-existed before His incarnation, working and "coming into the world" as it were. He appeared to Jacob in Genesis 28 as a ladder stretching from heaven to earth (compare John 1:51). Later on in the wilderness wanderings of the nation of Israel, the striking of the rock by Moses to release water to the thirsty people was apparently the Person of the Son disguised somehow in the rock (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-6). Or again, the revelation of the tabernacle and later on the temple somehow illustrates the Person and work of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 9). Over a dozen times in the Old Testament we find reference to a mysterious figure called "The Angel of the Lord" who is likely a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.
At any rate, John uses John the Baptist's testimony and references to Jesus as "the light of men" to summarize the work of the Son in the Old Testament. In short, the Son of God is God the Son not only pre-existent in eternity but revealed in the Old Testament.
We ought to be blown away by Jesus Christ
In an attempt to not make today's post longer than necessary, I realize how mind-blowing the prologue of John's Gospel is to me. Jesus Christ ever merits not only our pursuit and our study - but more so our worship! How else can we view Him as worthy of our worship unless we find our theological and spiritual breath taken away! I admit that the above thoughts are but an outline. However, it is hoped in future posts down the road, I'll be able to write further with better clarity. A lifetime is truly insufficient to fully appreciate the glory and grandeur of Jesus Christ. I suppose this is why for the Christian, an entire eternity will be required for us to gaze at this Milky Way Galaxy of the revelation of the Son of God, who is God the Son.