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Four Christmas Devotionals: Advent 2023, Part 1

By Dr. Douglas Groothuis

1. The Word is Jesus: Listen to Him (John 1:1-18)

John begins his Gospel with a profound statement about the truth that matters most: “In the beginning was the Word,” and this Word was “with God and was God.” The Word came to earth as Jesus Christ, “full of grace and truth.” But every day we are bombarded by other words, written and spoken—in newspapers, magazines, and books, on television, radio, and iPods. Words come at us from every direction. People speak to us, whether face-to-face or by telephone, email, text messaging, or other media. But many of these words miss the truth. How is “the Word” different?

John stresses that Jesus is no mere man. He is eternal “in the beginning” and fully divine. He created the universe and “all things were made through him.” But he did more than create the world. He became flesh in order to communicate flaming truth to human beings. Jesus spoke nothing but truth, lived life true to the truth, and left an indelible mark on time and eternity. Jesus is so full of truth that the darkness of ignorance and deception cannot overpower him. He is the voice of God calling out to a world tired of spin, lies, and confusion. His Word needs to be heeded and trusted, because he alone is the eternal Word.

The idea that God himself invaded earth through Jesus is no religious cliché. It is an earth-shaking and life-changing truth. God has spoken through his own Word. This truth sets Christians apart from all other religions and philosophies. The Incarnation was a visitation like no other—and one that leaves nothing the same. The darkness of humanity was exposed by the glorious light of “grace and truth” (v. 14). What kind of light could make this happen?

Before the creation was “the Word,” who was in an eternal relationship with God, the Father. This divine Word was the agent of creation and the source of its life. The Word was no mere philosophical principle or heavenly being content to bask in divine glory. No, the Word made his dwelling in our midst by coming to earth as Jesus of Nazareth. He was neither complacent nor silent.

The Author of the cosmic story became one of its characters—the lead Actor in the historical theater of redemption and judgment. He did so by living a matchless life, dying a matchless death to atone for our sins, and by rising again as Lord of the universe, as John and the rest of the New Testament goes on to tell us. Although he created the world, many of his own creatures rejected him, loving their familiar darkness more than the wild and radical radiance of “the Word made flesh.” But others, by the grace of God, exchanged their darkness for his Light, and became children of God. Have you done so? If so, have you made it your earnest desire to reflect through your own life the light that shines in the darkness?

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