It’s time for some stories of Jesus.
The Bible gives us four distinct stories of Jesus: Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Why four? Why not just one? Early in the history of the church, God’s people had to decide just that. And they decided four were better than one. These four bring different perspectives to the table that would be lost if you tried to squeeze them into one single take.
While the first three have lots of overlap and similarities, John is completely off the map. If John were a contemporary artist, he’d be Picasso. If he were a movie, he’d probably be The Tree of Life. There’s style. There’s substance. Jesus, as John portrays him, is mystical and spiritual.
How a story begins is important. Matthew starts the story of Jesus in the Jewish family tree. Mark starts with a prophecy of Isaiah. Luke starts with matter of John the Baptist’s birth. And John has a completely different take altogether.
In the beginning…
John echoes the opening lines of the Bible back in Genesis. For him, the story of Jesus starts with Creation.
One of the first challenges for the early church was the claim that Jesus wasn’t a flesh and blood human being. Because, think about, the spiritual God as a physical person is a ludicrous idea. Maybe Jesus simply looked like a person. And so one thing John is particularly interested in is this intersection of spiritual and physical (watch for the word “spirit” linked to physical words like “blood,” “flesh,” and “water”), that the eternal God of Abraham and Moses is the same in identity with this Jesus.
It’s what theologians call Incarnation. Spirit wrapped in bone and muscle and skin. As Eugene Peterson in The Message puts verse 14:
The Word became flesh and blood and moved into the neighborhood.
This is the Jesus that John is going to tell us about.
What about you? What do you see?