Sunday, April 17, 2011

Word of God, Lamb of Grace: a Survey of John's Gospel Account , the First Chapter

Christ is the word of God; to some, this is a given, but to me it’s a revelation. Growing up Evangelical, the phrase, “Word of God,” was synonymous with scripture and the Bible. I’ve read this passage a thousand times and sort of glossed over the idea that Jesus is the word. It wasn’t that I never saw it, rather, I saw it differently – I saw it through a different lens. Christ being the word of God and with God is core to the function of this gospel account.
Furthermore, everything coming through Christ is broadcast differently, if Jesus is the word – I mean, how many more ways can you say that Jesus is the end-all-be-all? Without Christ, there is no faith, there is no salvation, there is no grace, there is no righteousness, and there is no sanctification. In other words, there is no choosing to follow Jesus; there is only acknowledging Jesus. As I read this passage I wanted to exegete the text, I didn’t read my Lutheran ideas into it. Instead, the text showed me how they truly work. Luther aside, this first chapter makes me wonder why I ever thought there was a choice involved.

Moreover, Jesus is life because everything else is death. There is the cross – the work of Christ – and then there is everything else. I can see why people would want to choose salvation or choose good over evil because not doing so makes us seem pretty helpless. Ironically, trying to put the choice in our hands neglects the truth that all things emanate from Christ. This passage seems pretty clear that salvation and sanctification are the work of God not humans (v. 13). Grace and truth came from Jesus – not the law – and that’s not a justification for doing whatever I please. The function of grace does what a decision for Christ is incapable of; grace covers the law and our inability to keep it perfectly. Grace is an act of kindness from a loving God and for many it will always be hard not to conceive grace as a license for mayhem.

Truly, the good news of Christ is that he takes away the sin of the world. For Evangelical Christians, the work of Christ allows us to be forgiven for our individual sins. For Theologians of the Cross, such as myself, the work of Christ takes away the effect of our sin condition (caused by Original Sin). For those who don’t acknowledge Jesus as Lord, Christ is redemption from the crap of this world and if you’ve ever wondered why so many bad things happen in this world then you might see why this world is in need of a redeemer. The event of the cross (Jesus’ death and resurrection) is our redemption act and Jesus Christ is our redeemer. If you don’t like it, I understand, but the work has already been done. Like I said, there’s the cross and then there’s everything else.

Hopefully, I hope I don’t come off arrogant because this is all pretty humbling for me. When I say that there is the cross and then there is everything else, I’m not saying it’s my way or the highway. I’m saying that the work of the cross is out of my hands – not because helplessness appeals to me – it is out of my hands because God is greater than me and kind enough to know that I need redemption. Indeed, I have heard the word of God and it is Jesus. Indeed, I have seen the light of God and it is Jesus. Indeed, I have received the Lamb of God and it is Jesus The Son of God is the word of God, a light in darkness, and a lamb of eternal grace. Thanks be to God.

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