Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Sparks Fly

“In Him was life, 
and that life was the light of men.”
(John 1:4)

Instead of Jesus being the Lord of a kingdom, here He is the “light of men.” Instead of a Man subject to the powers of this world, born of a woman, laid in a manger, here He is “the only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father,” (1:18) revealing His image, and communicating life “to as many as received Him” among the sons of men (1:12).

“In Him was life.” In verses one through three, John establishes that there is something eternal about the One he’s about to describe, He was in the beginning, He created everything. But for John, God i.e. Jesus, is not some cosmic force somewhere out-there, He’s here, now, and He’s full of life. John moves from describing what He’s done to who He is, He is full of life, for in Him was life. Unfortunately, there is much lost in translation here. John’s description doesn’t seem very distinctive at this point. At least, until we recognize what the word John choose for life means. There’s life in my goldfish, not to mention the stuff growing on the inside of the bowl. There’s life in my neighbors ever-barking dog. There’s even life in that stupid cricket who’s been hiding out in my garage and using it as a rehearsal studio for his next album.

This is not the life that John distinctively tells us exists in Jesus. John chose the Greek word zoe, which denotes life of a spiritual and eternal substance. John’s not saying and in Him was breath, or even physical life. There’s nothing distinctive about that. Though if he had, the translation would have still read “life.” This is the unfortunate part, John uses four words for life throughout his Gospel. One represents the soul life, typically the selfish propensities that became exalted at the Fall of humanity – psuche. He also uses the word to describe physical life – bios. And the aforementioned word denoting spiritual and eternal life – zoe. There’s also the word for Spirit – pneuma. John uses these words a lot, and sometimes you find two or three of these different Greek words in the same sentence, however there’s no English distinction made, it’s always translated “life.” (Forgive the technicalities…)

All that to say, some things are lost in translation, most notably, John’s supreme idea at this point, which is, in Jesus there is a substance of being, a living reality that no human has experienced or possessed in several thousand years, save since the beginning of humanity. John’s statement here is paramount. He’s building something, he’s going somewhere, He’s describing the One who has come that is like no other, He’s like all, but greater than all, in Him was life. To follow yesterdays line of thinking, if there is now One on the scene who posses this kind of eternal substance of life, applied to the backdrop of a vivid understanding of the state of death humanity is in, there then begins to emerge an expectation and here a hope that if this life is permeating Him, perhaps I may also become a partaker of this kind life – the life that’s been lost since the Garden of Eden. In the darkness, sparks fly.

Portraits of Jesus        

Meditate on the following verse that describes all of humanities existence without Christ. Compare that to John’s claims about Christ.

“having their (our) understanding darkened, 
being alienated from the life of God, 
because of the ignorance that is in them, 
because of the blindness of their heart.”
(Ephesians 4:18)


“In Him was life, 
and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness,
 and the darkness did not comprehend (overcome) it.”    
(John 1:4-5)

What are the connections between life and light?

Meditate on Paul’s prayer for Christians.

“I pray that your hearts will be flooded with light 
so that you can understand the wonderful future 
he has promised to those he called. 
I want you to realize what a rich 
and glorious inheritance he has given to his people.”
(Ephesians 1:18 NLT)

“I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened,
so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance 
in the saints”
(Ephesians 1:18 NASB)

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