Does the first sentence of a story matter? Are those first words necessary to set the stage or establish the tone? Some of the best stories humanity has written would indicate that yes, the first words do matter:
“In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.”
“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…”
“A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.”
If you have enjoyed these stories, those words are magic. They move you. They tell you, “get ready…this is going to be good.” They make you sit up and pay attention.
So, yeah, words matter. The first words in a story make a difference.
If words matter, what do the first words of the greatest story ever told tell us?
“In the beginning was the Word.” (John 1:1)
In the beginning, Christ was there. In the beginning, Jesus was. He existed. This amazing story that is about to unfold would not be possible without the Word. Without Jesus.
“In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God.”
Jesus was there before anything else. He was there with God. Equal stature. Equal prominence. He did not come later. He was there, with God, at the beginning of this grand story.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Jesus was, is, and forever will be God. He was there with God. He was God. He did not appear on the scene as a baby in a manger. God did not look down on the world, in all of our sin and shame, and conjure up a solution. That solution was there, from the beginning. He was with God and He was God. In the beginning.
This story, the story of redemption, cannot exist without Jesus. Without the Word who was God. God’s grand, epic love story can only be written with its central character being present from the beginning. Jesus is so much more than the baby we sing about at Christmas. He is so much more than a carpenter’s son who taught the people. Who healed the sick. Who fed the hungry. Who suffered and died on a cross. He is more than the Messiah, who rose again on the third day. He was and is the author and finisher of our faith. He is the Word, who was with God and was God. He is the creator of all. There is nothing that exists outside of His purview. Outside of His control. He was there. He was with God. He is God.
On this Christmas, rejoice in the coming of Christ. Sing songs, tell the story when it came to pass. Remember the moment, when Christ took on flesh and became a man. Celebrate Christmas for all that it is and all that it signifies. But remember, this baby whose birth we celebrate is the very Lord of all. He is the Light and Life of men. This is His story. We miss the true power of this story if we reduce Jesus to a newborn in a manger. That was not the beginning of His story. His is the story of eternity. His is the story of the redemption of mankind, which began before the foundation of the world. He stepped into our part of the story at the fullness of time. To make us His own. But that was His part of the story from the beginning.
The first words of a story matter. Fortunately for us, our story, the story of our salvation, has the best first Word. The Word who was with God, the Word who was God…
“In the beginning.”
Merry Christmas from the Rambling Ever On team.