The Christmas story did not begin in a manger. Nor did it begin with an angelic birth announcement. It didn’t even begin with the family line of David’s descendants. All of those were significant in their own way, but the story really begins in the beginning.
It’s John in the fourth gospel who goes further back than any of the other evangelists. In an echo of the opening line of Genesis, he tells us that,
In the beginning was the Word.
Whatever contemporary philosophical ideas may have been in the background when John described Jesus as the Logos, we shouldn’t miss the fact that the Old Testament paints a picture of a God who talks.
In fact, in the passage from Genesis 1 which John echoes in the opening of his gospel, God speaks – and with an unimaginably powerful outcome.
Words are powerful.
Think of the powerful, positive impact of someone’s words of affirmation or encouragement. Or, less happily, of the destructive power of someone’s slander or words of discouragement.
However powerful our words might be, none of us has the capacity to speak into existence such things as light, vegetation and living creatures!
But that was the result of God’s powerful word.
And he went on speaking. Calling an Abraham to find a new life as he trusted an obeyed him. Sending his word to his people through his prophets.
God’s word is so much a part and expression of himself that it is quite possible for John to say that,
The Word was God
But before he gets there, he makes this claim:
The Word was with God
The Word became flesh
Three hugely significant statements about the Word. For the Word of God is not just what God says, the message that God sends. The Word is a unique person – with God (like a companion, in his presence, therefore distinct from him), he is God (one with him), and he has become human.
Christmas is much more than the homely story of the birth of a baby boy!