The genesis of grace.
In the birth of Jesus, God himself takes on the weight and burden of humanity, his own creation, in order to save, to enliven and illuminate the world.
1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. 4In him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. 8He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.
9The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. 11He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. 12But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
14And 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. 15(John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.
To begin John’s Gospel we have an introduction of Jesus, but this introduction is absent the manger scene and the angels at night. This introduction gets right to the heart of Christianity: who Jesus is, why he came, and how we can get in on it.
Jesus is the light of the world—and this changes everything.
With his opening line, “In the beginning,” John is providing an account of Genesis retold: A new genesis of grace dawns with the arrival of the promised Messiah. This is the Word—not merely the logos of Greek wisdom, but the verbal spark that ignites all of creation. His existence is God’s. He is God. He is Jesus from eternity.
Jesus is the creative agent of all things. Every mountain, sea, tree, critter—everything is made by him and for him. All things have his imprint and his design.
The One who creates is the breather and owner of life, and this life is the light of humanity. He is the center of our existence, our pulse emanates from his authority and care, and he is the light that shines into the cold world. Mankind is no longer without his presence, and there is no darkness that can shade or cover this light since he has come.
John the Baptist (not the author of the Gospel) was purposed by God to prepare the way for Christ and his ministry. John was not the hero, but lived to point people to Jesus.
Jesus is available to all people. He put on flesh and walked among his creation, but many don’t feel the warmth of his light. He came to Israel, but they did not welcome or submit to him and remain in darkness.
Those who do welcome and believe in him have the greatest of gifts—the right to be Children of God, not by their own credentials or ability, but solely by the will of God.
The light, Jesus, fully God, takes on humanity. He has a pulse, eats, drinks, experiences all that being human entails. He is fully man and takes up residence among us that we might see and savor the grace and truth of who he is. He is the object of revival and the embodiment of what was promised by the spokesmen of God.
From the reality of who he is, those who have believed in him receive wave upon wave of grace—unending, unmerited favor given through the life and work of the One superior to Moses, the One who has made the only God known in the flesh. This is Jesus.
All of life depends on what we will think of Jesus and if we will catch the blinding goodness of his light. God himself takes on the weight and burden of humanity, his own creation, in order to save, to enliven and illuminate man.
In the wake of this mysterious miracle, he is fully God and fully man, meaning we are not left to be lost in darkness but can have hope in this light. When we believe in him, we are united with him as children and can know him—all by his will and none of our own. He then becomes and remains our source, relating to us with inexhaustible grace as his favored children forever.
Photos by Tom Pfingsten and Jason Bolt.
11And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying, 12“Speak to the people of Israel, If any man’s wife goes astray and breaks faith with him, 13if a man lies with her sexually, and it is hidden from the eyes of her husband, and she is undetected though she has defiled herself, and there is no witness against her, since she was not taken in the act, 14and if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife who has defiled herself, or if the spirit of jealousy comes over him and he is jealous of his wife, though she has not defiled herself, 15then the man shall bring his wife to the priest and bring the offering required of her, a tenth of an ephah of barley flour. He shall pour no oil on it and put no frankincense on it, for it is a grain offering of jealousy, a grain offering of remembrance, bringing iniquity to remembrance.
16“And the priest shall bring her near and set her before the LORD. 17And the priest shall take holy water in an earthenware vessel and take some of the dust that is on the floor of the tabernacle and put it into the water. 18And the priest shall set the woman before the LORD and unbind the hair of the woman’s head and place in her hands the grain offering of remembrance, which is the grain offering of jealousy. And in his hand the priest shall have the water of bitterness that brings the curse. 19Then the priest shall make her take an oath, saying, ‘If no man has lain with you, and if you have not turned aside to uncleanness while you were under your husband’s authority, be free from this water of bitterness that brings the curse. 20But if you have gone astray, though you are under your husband’s authority, and if you have defiled yourself, and some man other than your husband has lain with you, 21then’ (let the priest make the woman take the oath of the curse, and say to the woman) ‘the LORD make you a curse and an oath among your people, when the LORD makes your thigh fall away and your body swell. 22May this water that brings the curse pass into your bowels and make your womb swell and your thigh fall away.’ And the woman shall say, ‘Amen, Amen.’
23“Then the priest shall write these curses in a book and wash them off into the water of bitterness. 24And he shall make the woman drink the water of bitterness that brings the curse, and the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain. 25And the priest shall take the grain offering of jealousy out of the woman’s hand and shall wave the grain offering before the LORD and bring it to the altar. 26And the priest shall take a handful of the grain offering, as its memorial portion, and burn it on the altar, and afterward shall make the woman drink the water. 27And when he has made her drink the water, then, if she has defiled herself and has broken faith with her husband, the water that brings the curse shall enter into her and cause bitter pain, and her womb shall swell, and her thigh shall fall away, and the woman shall become a curse among her people. 28But if the woman has not defiled herself and is clean, then she shall be free and shall conceive children.
29“This is the law in cases of jealousy, when a wife, though under her husband’s authority, goes astray and defiles herself, 30or when the spirit of jealousy comes over a man and he is jealous of his wife. Then he shall set the woman before the LORD, and the priest shall carry out for her all this law. 31The man shall be free from iniquity, but the woman shall bear her iniquity.”