GOD AND THE WORD
John 1:1 and 2 say, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” By itself verse 1 does not indicate definitely that the Word was with God from the beginning. If we only had this verse, some might think that the Word was in the beginning, but doubt that the Word was with God from the beginning. They may think that the Word was with God only after a certain time. This concept concerning the Word was the source of a serious heresy in John’s time. Certain heretics taught that the Logos, the Word, was not eternal. These heretics claimed that the Word was made by God and that the Word was not self-existing. In order to refute this heresy, John added verse 2: “He was in the beginning with God.” In the beginning, that is, from eternity past, the Word was with God.
It is not the case, as supposed by some, that Christ was not with God and was not God from eternity past, and that at a certain time Christ became God and was with God. Christ’s deity is eternal and absolute. From eternity past to eternity future, He is with God, and He is God.
John’s concept is that the Logos, the Word (no doubt, this refers to the Lord Jesus), was not made, was not created. On the contrary, the Word is self-existing, without beginning or ending, because He is God. Therefore, in these two verses we have a strong argument against heretical teachings concerning the Person of Christ and a strong inoculation against such heresies.
THE MYSTERIES IN JOHN’S WRITINGS
All of John’s writings are concerned with mysteries. His Gospel, his Epistles, and his Revelation are full of mysteries. The first three Gospels, Matthew, Mark, and Luke, are called synoptic Gospels. The word synoptic means having the same point of view. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all share the same point of view. If you read through these three Gospels, you will see that the narratives in them are very much the same. But after these three Gospels comes another Gospel with another point of view. Matthew, Mark, and Luke all speak of the Lord Jesus as a Man. In Matthew we see that the Lord Jesus is the King; in Mark, that He is a servant; and in Luke, that He is a Man. Since a king and a servant are men, all three of these Gospels speak of Christ in His humanity, one as the King, one as the Servant of God, and one as the proper Man. But the Gospel of John is concerned with Christ in His divinity.
The humanity of Christ is not a mystery. However, the divinity of Christ surely is a mystery. With respect to His humanity, Jesus of Nazareth was not mysterious. Like all human beings, He had to sleep, eat, and drink. He even wept as others do. But within Him there was the divine nature. This is a mystery.
People knew the Lord Jesus in His humanity. They could say that they knew His brothers and sisters and His mother, that He was the son of a carpenter. Regarding all this, it seemed that there was nothing mysterious. But the divinity within the Lord Jesus was a great mystery. Sometimes even His disciples wondered who He was. For example, after He had rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm, the disciples marveled and said, “What kind of man is this that even the winds and the sea obey Him?” (Matt. 8:27).
In His deity, Christ is God, the eternal Logos, the self-existing One, the One without beginning. The name of Jesus refers to the Lord after His incarnation. Therefore, we cannot say, “In the beginning was Jesus.” It was the Logos, not Jesus, who was with God in the beginning. Jesus was born as a man according to the record in chapter two of Luke. He was then taken to Egypt and eventually lived in Nazareth. But as we have pointed out, within this Jesus there was a great mystery, the mystery of His divinity. It truly is a mystery that the man Jesus is God. The Gospel of John is concerned with the mystery of the Lord’s divine Person.
Christ is mysterious not only in His deity, but also in His divine work. Therefore, the Gospel of John speaks of the mysteries of Christ’s Person and work. Concerning the mystery of Christ’s divine work, John 19:34 says, “But one of the soldiers pierced His side with a spear, and immediately there came out blood and water.” Here we see that two substances came out of the Lord’s pierced side: blood and water. Blood is for redemption, dealing with sin (John 1:29; Heb. 9:22) for the purchase of the church (Acts 20:28). Water is for imparting life, dealing with death (John 3:14-15) for the producing of the church (John 12:24; Eph. 5:29-31). The Lord’s death is, on the negative side, to take away our sins, and, on the positive side, to impart life into us. Hence, it has two aspects: the redemptive aspect and the life-imparting aspect. The redemptive aspect is for the life-imparting aspect. The record of the three other Gospels is only for the redemptive aspect of the Lord’s death, but John’s record is not only for the redemptive aspect, but also for the life-imparting aspect. In Matthew 27:45, 51; Mark 15:33; and Luke 23:44-45, darkness, a symbol of sin, appeared, and the veil of the temple which separated man from God was rent. Those are signs regarding the Lord’s redemptive death. The Lord’s redemptive death is also depicted by the words spoken by the Lord on the cross in Luke 23:34, “Father, forgive them,” and in Matthew 27:46, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (because He bore our sin at that time). But the flowing water in John 19:34 is a sign regarding the Lord’s life-imparting death. This death that imparts life releases the Lord’s divine life from within Him for the producing of the church, composed of all His believers into whom His divine life is imparted. This life-imparting death of the Lord is signified by the death of the one grain of wheat falling into the ground for the bringing forth of many grains (John 12:24). Hence, it is also the life-propagating, life-multiplying death, the generating and reproducing death.
(The Fulfillment of the Tabernacle and the Offerings in the Writings of John, Chapter 1, by Witness Lee)