Before I begin delving into this topic, let me first clearly communicate that one of Scriptures’ greatest truths to me personally is “union with Christ” (see Ephesians). To strip away this truth is to bar me from my greatest treasure. Apart from Christ, I am nothing. Only as I am “in the Lord” does my life have any temporal meaning and then stretching into eternity, any real significance. In fact, I become invincible, relying upon Him. The Lord is my panoplia (full armor), rendering ineffective any methodeias
(wiles) of Satan.
But saying that, I will never be like Christ in the fullness that He is. Whereas, I need daily augmentation of His fullness, Christ never did and never will need the creaturely process. Of course, atheists mock the idea of a mysterious Triune God beyond the grasp of mankind’s intellect. Here is a textbook case, Richard Dawkins’ God Delusion (2006). He writes, “Rivers of medieval ink, not to mention blood, have been squandered over the ‘mystery’ of the Trinity, and in supressing deviation such as the Arian heresy. Arius of Alexandria, in the fourth century AD, denied that Jesus was consubstantial (i.e. of the same substance or essence) with God. What on earth could that possibly mean, you are probably asking? Substance? What ‘substance’? What exactly do you mean by ‘essence’? ‘Very little’ seems the only reasonable reply” (p. 33) . . . “Most of my readers will have been reared in one or another of today’s three ‘great’ monotheistic religions (four if you count Mormonism), all of which trace themselves back to the mythological patriarch Abraham . . . ” (p. 36). “Thomas Jefferson, as so often, got it right when he said, ‘Ridicule is the only weapon which can be used against unintelligible propositions. Ideas must be distinct before reason can act upon them; and no man ever had a distinct idea of the trinity. It is mere Abracadabra of the mountebanks calling themselves the priests of Jesus’ ” (p. 34).
Surely, I can’t wrap my limited intellect around all the pregnant monosyllables bursting with meaning in John 1; but that doesn’t mean I can just simply erase them from the pages of Scripture. They stand yet for the marveling, intellectual gaze of all.
The first chapter of John contrasts in vivid, full color two people, the Christos (Jesus) and the forerunner (John) who came in the spirit of Elias. If we don’t understand this foundational distinction between the two in John 1, the rest of the book and quotes appearing in any other text will be altered in interpretation.
John 1:29 is a staggering job description for a man. Can John fulfill this? Absolutely not. He explains the difference between Jesus and him. “This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me” (John 1:30).
Wait a minute. Have we heard that before? Yes. Back in verse 27, and also a third time in verse 15. Did we catch this? When the Spirit of God has the author write something three times within the space of sixteen verses, we need to halt our rushed reading, camp out, and meditate. This is something big . . . one of those fundamental truths about God.
John was naturally born into this world, so was Jesus (six months later). But though the Logos has always existed, John hasn’t. And this is where the preference to Jesus is clear–Jesus, always being in contrast to John, becoming. The only time we see Jesus becoming, is when He became flesh. Don’t you see that contrast between those Greek verbs?
John, the greatest man ever born to a woman up to that point (Matthew 11:11) saw the huge chasm between himself and Jesus at the baptismal event, the Lord’s Messianic annointing (Isa. 61:1). And it is the heart attitude of any transformed creature in the process of becoming to be forever positioned just like the mighty forerunner, John the Baptist before the Christ, who is the eternal being. We are not even worthy to unloose the straps of His sandals. This truth is immutable.
I am well aware that Scripture does not contain any words like hypostases, persona, homoousios, or Trinitas. So I carry no passion for a discourse in Greek metaphysics. My heart’s desire is one of an onward, upward move for discussions in soteriology (the doctrine of salvation), but the truths of John 1:29 are inseparable connected with something even greater, the nature of Jesus and how John contrasts himself with the Christ. Friends, are we seeing, eye to eye, over what is written in John 1, the very first chapter, reminiscent of Genesis 1.