Week Beginning Sunday 21st January 2018
Then Barnabas went on to Tarsus to look for Saul. When he found him, he brought him back to Antioch. Both of them stayed there with the church for a full year, teaching large crowds of people. (It was at Antioch that the believers were first called Christians.) Acts 11:26
It all began in Antioch – that’s where the believers first got the name ‘Christian’. My guess is that they got the name because Barnabas and Paul said so much about Jesus Christ – they became Christ’s people. Then the name stuck!
This is perhaps indicative of the fact that Jesus Christ, the second person of the Trinity, was at the centre of the preaching and teaching.
So this week’s readings focus on the person and work of Jesus, and why He figured so centrally in the preaching.
V 1. In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God.
There are very many sects that insist that ‘God is One’ and so the notion of ‘Trinity’ is emphatically denied. Yet here, right at the beginning of John’s Gospel, the eternal nature of the ‘Word’ is stressed. He pre-dates time – if that makes any sense! He existed with God before ‘Time’ began its onward march. Even more than that – The Word was with God, and was God.
While the Jews looked to Abraham as the father of their race, Jesus claimed to have been in existence even before Abraham was born – it was a claim that made the Jews try to stone him for blasphemy. In John 8:58 we read ‘Jesus answered, “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was even born, I am” At that point they picked up stones to throw at him.’ They understood only too well that Jesus was claiming to be part of the eternal Godhead.
More even than this however, we see Jesus, ‘the Word’, revealed as the agent of the whole of Creation. ‘God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him.’ (v 3)
The writer of the letter to Hebrews puts it this way ‘through the Son he created the universe. The Son radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God, and he sustains everything by the mighty power of his command.’
In our day and age we tend to stress the fact that Jesus is Saviour, Friend, and lover of his created beings; the bible reminds us that Jesus ‘radiates God’s own glory and expresses the very character of God,’. His greatness and eternal glory pass our imagination!