John’s portrayal of Jesus is sometimes called “the Cosmic Christ”, because he shows Jesus as a transcendent, eternal figure, at work with the Father in the creation of the world. In the prologue (opening words) to his Gospel, John says that nothing was made except through the Word – Jesus.
“The Word” is a big term here. It has resonances in both Jewish and Greek
religious culture. For the Jews, it recalls the words of creation: “Let there be light!”
The echoes of the opening of Genesis are clear and obvious in the prologue to John’s Gospel. The breath of God, which confers and defines life (and is a term for the Holy Spirit), the Law, which structured the whole of their lives, and the word of God spoken through the prophets, are all key aspects of the Jewish faith. But in his prologue John, writing in Greek, uses the word logos (tr. “word”), which the Stoic philosophers of ancient Greece used to describe the life-giving divine principle. So John is showing us the mind-blowingly enormous wingspan of the Christ idea. In Jesus reside the full power and radiance of the creator himself. As the Christ, there is nothing limited or local about Jesus; he is for every time and culture, and his reach even extends beyond to before time began and after its ending.
Though Bible scholars inevitably question whether the authorship of the
Gospel of John and the epistles of John are the same, they show many similarities in thought and composition, so I have included two excerpts from 1 John in our study passages, to fill out our knowledge and understanding of John’s teaching that Jesus is the living Word of God.
O God of love and life and power, we give you thanks for Jesus, the living Word, transforming and renewing our hearts and minds into his likeness of love. We beg you to breathe into us the vitalizing power of your Holy Spirit, enabling us to see and to grasp the way and teaching of Jesus. It may be true that we shall never be perfect followers, never understand completely all that he is and has done for us, but nevertheless we ask for grace to make a start, and to prove faithful in our daily walk with him. For we ask it in his holy name; Amen.