Theology 101: Jesus — The Eternal Wordcomment (0)
January 16, 2014
By Jerry Batson
Many Christians began their reading of the Bible with the Gospel of John. If so, that was a good choice. The opening lines of John begin by speaking of the Living Word: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, ESV).
Grammarians refer to “was” as a verb of being. As such, it expresses neither a coming into being nor a ceasing to be. Applied to Christ, this verb of being tells us He has always been and will always be. He is the eternal Word.
Generations of Christians have pondered and written about the significance of Jesus as the Living Word. For several weeks, we will join the pondering by thinking about truths that flow from thinking of Jesus as the Word.
If perchance a person decided that the place to begin reading the Bible is its first book, that person would read the Bible’s opening words, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Gen. 1:1). Those opening words tell us that God did not have a beginning. He has always been. God is eternal. A child in Sunday School may ask, “But where did God come from?” The only answer we are given is that God was already there before anything else came into being. Inquisitive minds cannot grasp the idea of someone who did not have a beginning. All the “someones” we know had a point of birth or beginning. By faith, we become pleased to confess that God is without beginning.
Just as Genesis introduces God simply, but profoundly, as being “in the beginning,” so John introduces Christ the Living Word similarly, “In the beginning was the Word.” The phrase must be allowed the same meaning in both instances. We might then say that Christ the Son is “co-eternal” with God the Father; that is, Jesus shares eternal existence along with the Father.
Not many weeks ago throughout the Christian world we celebrated the birth of Jesus. We can become caught up in the familiar scenes of a young maiden giving birth to her firstborn child out behind an overcrowded inn. Amid the familiar trappings of the traditional birth story and since all the people we know had their beginning as newborn babies, we might find ourselves thinking that Christ had His beginning on that holy night.
I rather think that my childhood idea about Christ was exactly that. Only with the passing of the years, did I come to understand that God in His greatness compressed His eternity into a manger moment and His divinity into a baby boy. In our more reflective moments, we understand that by a Bethlehem birth Christ had his beginning in human flesh, as the only-begotten of the Father. However, there was never a time when the Eternal Word did not exist.
The language of Genesis 1:26, “Let Us make man in Our image,” has room in it for the declaration Colossians 1:16 makes concerning God’s beloved Son, “For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth.” The Living Word existed when creation was decreed, but He was not in bodily form until the first Christmas.
The good news that God sent earthward that first Christmas is that the eternal Christ became a creature of time in order to make a way for us creatures of time to possess eternal life. Our eternal Savior gives us life that is everlasting, as well as meaningful, abundant and purposeful.