You don’t need to be a Scripture scholar, or even a believer, to recognize the opening words of the Bible. There in Genesis we are introduced to our God and are led through the events of creation. God tells us something of how these things were done through poetic language.
God speaks his word, and creation happens.
These words transport us back to paradise, to the garden, and the story of Adam and Eve fills our heads.
In the beginning God created man and woman without sin. They dwelt in Eden in the presence of God. When sin enters the world through their actions, the story shifts to a fallen world, a world of separation which contains painful birth, hard labor and death. In that death the dead are bound to the grave, unable to enter into paradise.
But God makes a promise. He promises to send us a victor who will conquer death. Death will be overcome, a savior will redeem us to our God and open the gates of heaven. The Messiah will crush the head of the serpent.
So the people waited.
We enter into salvation history and follow the stories of the people awaiting their messiah through the ages, the people whom God has chosen to bring forth this redeemer. It is a long wait.
“A thousand years in your sight are but as yesterday when it is past, or as a watch in the night.” (Psalm 90:4)
The long wait is but an instant to the Lord. Some people fell away, some forgot, some stopped waiting, some no longer believed. The Lord sent prophets among the people to keep them awake and prepared. They would kill his prophets rather than hear the Lord’s voice.
So many fell to sin, but not all. They waited for a sign.
“Therefore, the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:14)
And it comes to pass that the young virgin, a maiden preserved by God from the stain of original sin, a girl full of grace, conceives by the power of the Holy Spirit and that Son is born into creation.
“…therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Luke 1:35)
Searching for Jesus the man
We live in a time where many are saying that this is a fable, a myth. And there are many who say, “Well, ok, there was this guy named Jesus, but he was just a great teacher. He never claimed to be God. That stuff was all made up later.”
There are movements to try to find the “real Jesus,” to uncover the “historical Jesus.” It is an effort to tear down the truths of Scripture and to kill God by making the Father a liar and his Son just a mere man.
The serpent in the garden tempted Eve with a question. His questions are always to sow doubt and confusion. And so he asks us today, “How can this man born of a woman be God? Do you really need a redeemer? Do you really need God at all?”
Our world is filled with distraction and so many turn away, lost in confusion. Just as the people of old wouldn’t listen to the prophets, people today are having a hard time listening, if they can even hear the Good News at all.
Who is this Jesus? Why is he important to us? What does any of this have to do with me?
Finding Jesus the Son of God
The prophecies of Christ’s coming abound in the Old Testament. Jesus himself said, “For I tell you that many prophets and kings desired to see what you see and did not see it, and to hear what you hear and did not hear it.” (Luke 10:24)
What was this news that they were hearing? That the kingdom of God was at hand. That the savior long promised had come. That God is our Father who loves us. Yet there were many who did not have eyes to see and ears to hear. They would say, “Is this not Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know?” (John 6:42)
They didn’t want to believe. Consider this event where Jesus says, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he was to see my day; he saw it and was glad.” The Jews said, “You are not yet fifty years old, and you have seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they took up stones to throw at him…” (John 8:56-59)
Seeing Jesus the man they were blinded to Jesus the eternal divine Lord who lowered himself to come among us. Seeking Jesus as just a man is an attempt to strip away the eternal glory of God. Jesus comes as fully God and fully man, and those who had not hardened their hearts to this truth came to him. They were the lowly, the humble, the meek, the ones who thirsted after righteousness. They were healed, transformed, and made new.
In the beginning
The Apostle John lived to be an old man. He preached the Gospel for over 60 years after the Resurrection. His disciples asked him to write an account of all that happened and John, who knew that so many struggled with that question of Jesus’ divinity begins the story in a new way.
John takes us back to that beginning, the days of Genesis, using the very same introductory words. He tells the story of creation, an old story now made new by the revelation and incarnation of the Christ. In Genesis, God explained the sequences of creation. In John, we get the revelation of the Word by which all was created.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1)
God’s Word and God, they are one in being. God’s Word comes forth from God and consists of all that he is.
“He was in the beginning with God. All things came to be through him, and without him nothing came to be.” (John 1:2)
That man Jesus, that historical Jesus people search for, this is who he is. The vulnerable infant lying swaddled in the manger on that silent night, this is who he is. Jesus didn’t begin to exist in Mary’s womb. Jesus has always existed.
The Father knew we would need salvation before we were created. His Word, directly from him, came to us, lowering himself to be one of us, to suffer for us. Why?
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men.” (John 1:3)
He is the Way back to the Father. He is the Truth of our soul. He is our very life.
He is Emmanuel, God with us. Jesus (Yeshua) means God saves, and he comes to save each and every one of us and offer us life eternal.
“I came that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10)
Genesis sets the beginning of time, the starting point.
In the beginning was Adam, who fell and brought sin and death into the world.
Jesus comes and divides time so that all time points to his salvific incarnation. There is now only time before Christ and after Christ. Jesus, the new Adam, is our new starting point. All things are new in him who takes away the sins of the world and conquers death.
On that dark and silent night in Judea, in the quiet town of Bethlehem, a great light burst forth. No matter how dark the night, no matter how dark your world, that glorious light still shines forth for each of us.
When you look upon that infant in the manger, remember these words: “He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power.” (Hebrews 1:3)
Oh, that tiny infant born into a darkened world.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” (John 1:5)
Our salvation has come.
Kevin Theriault is a Lay Dominican writer, freelance journalist and photographer.
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