Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent 1: John 1

Today is the first Sunday of Advent and it seemed appropriate to reflect these next few Sundays about the coming of Jesus.  John 1 seemed a good place to start.

"In the beginning was the Logos.  The Logos was with God, and the Logos was divine.  This Logos was with God in the beginning.  Everything came into existence through it, and apart from it, not even one thing came into existence.  That which has come into existence by it was life, and the life was the light of mortals.  And the light is shining in the darkness, and the darkness has not put it out."

It is not until verse 14 that we hear, "the Logos became flesh and tabernacled among us, and we beheld its glory, like the glory of the only born from the Father, full of grace and truth."

The Logos was the word of God, his will in action.  When God created the world, he spoke.  Everything  came into existence when God spoke a word.  To speak of Jesus as God's Logos come into the world is thus to say that Jesus is the instrument by which God accomplished his will for the world.  That will was "full of grace and truth."  His will was to make sons and daughters in the world of all who would receive him (1:12).  His will was an expression of love, for it was because God so loved the world, that he sent his Son into it (3:16-17).

Jesus on earth "tabernacled," which is to say that he was a tent in which God was present in the world.  Jesus on earth brought life to the dark in the world.  The first Sunday of Advent is about expectation about foreshadowing, about prophetic anticipation.  What are we to anticipate?  This year I am anticipating the Spirit of Christ filling the world again this year and thus God's will coming into the world again this year.  I am anticipating God's presence being in and among us, bringing grace and truth to the world once more.


Ivan said...


Would you see the Logos as a real, living person or would you say the Logos in John 1 is God's self-expression and will? (or both?)

If the latter, what about John 1:10?

Angie Van De Merwe said...

I can't help but think of John as a gnostic gospel, because of its supernaturalism (special revelation).

If Logos was the "pagan" metaphor of wisdom, then, the Christianized metaphor was "Christ's life". This is the Christianization of pagan myth for the "Church's" purposes.

And since Advent is the message of "Hope", Jesus life is the message of hope to those that others had marginalized, fitting nicely with the "social gospel" message of liberal traditions (social identity/rationality), while the literalization of such a gospel (experience/born again) is the individualized realization of "the gospel" for/to the marginalized for the conservative evangelical. (God's "hope" through another's "moral example" (logos christology) ).

Ken Schenck said...

Ivan, yes, we find out that the Logos is in fact a person, Jesus, who pre-existed in glory with the Father. I translated it this way for two reasons: 1) because I suspect this is the way a first time ancient reader would have read it and 2) to jolt us from a lazy reading of the verses because we know how the story ends.

Angie, John is certainly closer to Gnostic than Luke by far, but it is usually read as having some anti-Gnostic elements. The very idea of Jesus taking on flesh, for example, argues against Docetic Gnosticism.

Angie Van De Merwe said...

Since the Church proposed an "irrationality" for "Jesus" (ALL GOD/ALL MAN), it has to be a developmental model in cognition.

Whether one understands the body/soul as the Hebrew (an ensouled body) OR as a social scientist (observable action/behavior), human action is the choice of a "moral model".

The Gentile believer would be the "unclean", those not circumcised, while the Jewish believer would have come to an understanding of life consecrated to "God" (holiness) or is it "for humanity". Is an atheistic christian different from a secular humanist, except for the context in which they "commit"?

A scientist would understand human behavior within a brain/mind dimension where humans are formed within social contexts, which is an internalization of certain social norms. (or has this not been actually proven, yet?)

Angie Van De Merwe said...

If the moral model is a person, then, a mentor, or teacher is an appropriate "model" for children as to social behavior, or to those that are under the tuteledge of teachers.

But, if the moral model is a Constitutional government, then, one has come to understand one's boundary regarding another's right, as well as recognizing one's own rights. Adults know how to self regulate, so that society does not suffer under compulsive, infantile or irrational behaviors. Vendettas, or vigilante justice is not what our country upholds, as to the "rule of law"!