27 December 2015
St John the Evangelist
1 John 1 and John 21. 19b-end
with Canon David Stranack
Today as well as continuing to celebrate Christmas we are also celebrating St John the Apostle on his Feast day. According to tradition he was the author of the Fourth Gospel, the Book of Revelation, and the three Letters that bear his name.
Now it may seem strange to be talking about John only two days after Christmas day but in a very important way John sets out in his Gospel to explain just who this Jesus really is.
The first part of his chapter one is often read at Christmas time and is a magnificent description of Jesus, the child of Bethlehem, where he had come from and his significance for us and for all humanity.
‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2The same was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made.
4In him was life; and the life was the light of men. 5And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness did not overcome it.’
And then later he continues, ‘14And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.’
So Jesus is described by John as the Word of God. In simple terms Jesus was born into the world to be the mouth-piece, the spokesman for God. God visits his creation in the person of Jesus Christ to make himself known.
In the original Greek text the term used was λογος which not only means ‘word’ but also means ‘reason’ and from which of course we get the word logic. The λογος is therefore the mind of God and is responsible for the incredible order of the world and of all creation.
There is a lot more to it all than that but at least we can get some glimpse of the wonder of Almighty God, of his great wisdom and reason. It is through the eyes of faith that we can begin to see an amazing logic to all that Christ has revealed to us of our wonderful God.
I therefore believe that it is Christ, born at Bethlehem over 2000 years ago who makes sense of this life and shows us the true meaning of our existence. We are formed and created by God, endowed with a spirit by which we are enabled to know and see God in Christ Jesus.
Because of that we know that we are loved by God enough for his Son Jesus to die on the cross to save us from the powers of darkness and sin, and in order to restore us to that incredible loving relationship with our heavenly Father.
After that theological and philosophical start John then sets out in his Gospel, not merely to give a simple account of our Lord’s miracles and teaching which we can read in the first three gospels, Matthew, Mark and Luke – the synoptic gospels, but in John we have a deeply thought-out spiritually inspired presentation of the person of Jesus Christ.
He recorded John the Baptist describing Jesus as the ‘lamb of God’ a clear reference to the fact the Jesus was destined to be the suffering servant of God as foretold by the prophet Isaiah.
St John also differs from the other Gospel writers in that he refers to the miracles of Jesus as ‘signs’. Turning water into wine at the wedding in Cana was, he says, ‘the first of the signs given by Jesus’ by which he inspired the faith of the disciples in his divine mission.
He spoke to Nicodemus of the need to be born again in order to be able to see the kingdom of God. And he told him that he had been sent by God into the world that the world might be saved through him.
Then Jesus broke with the conventions of the day at the well at Samaria by not only speaking with a woman but by being willing to share a cup of water with a foreigner.
And then there are those ‘I am’ claims of Jesus which recall the name that God revealed to Moses at the burning bush. Each of his ‘I am’ statements again tells us more about the true nature and purpose of Jesus as Messiah, as the chosen divine Son of God.
After the feeding of the five thousand he said ‘I am the bread of life’, and ‘I am the living bread which has come down from heaven’. (6.35, 51)