By Russ Ramsey
Welcome to the Gospel of John—a Gospel filled with poetry, allusion, heart, mystery, and detail. But it’s more than that. It is the inspired Word of God, telling the story of the Word of God incarnate, Jesus. While the other Gospels open with Jesus’s lineage or early ministry, John opens with this grandiose statement about the eternality, power, authority, and purpose of Christ’s coming. And the very first thing John tells us is that Jesus, who was present at creation, is the very Word of God.
The book of Hebrews opens by borrowing from John, telling us that long ago, God spoke to us by the prophets, but now He has spoken by His own Son, Jesus, who upholds the universe by the word of His power. That’s a powerful claim.
What is a prophet anyway? A prophet is a messenger from God who speaks on God’s behalf. He is someone who has been set apart to deliver God’s word to God’s people. The different prophets in the Old Testament delivered various aspects of the same message. What was that message? The people’s need for redemption and God’s plan of salvation. Prophets proclaimed the sin of humanity and redemption from God. As often as the Lord sent them, their message was one of sin and redemption, sin and redemption, sin and redemption.
But the message the prophets delivered, they did not accomplish. This sets Jesus Christ apart from all other prophets. When we look at Jesus, we see that He is both the messenger and the means of redemption. Prophets were only the bearers of God’s word, pointing to another who would ultimately fulfill those words. Jesus is the prophet who brought God’s message of sin and redemption, and is Himself the One who accomplished the salvation He and all the others proclaimed.
So Christ the prophet becomes the message. “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We observed his glory, the glory as the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). God’s message of salvation was about Jesus, the Word of God, the messenger of salvation who also accomplished our salvation.
John opens with a glorious thought—a lofty one. It leads us to read with our minds on the lofty truth of who Jesus truly is. As you read, look for how he maintains a sense of the glorious mystery of Christ throughout this Gospel. And consider what it means that Jesus Christ, the Son of God who came in the flesh, is both the messenger and the means of our salvation.