John's Gospel

The Way It Happened

John 1:32, The Logos (Part V of V)

And John bore witness, saying, “I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and He remained upon Him”.

//Over the last few days, we’ve discussed two major religious themes: One, the Hellenistic idea of a Logos someday being sent from God to mankind, who would “reveal mysteries and make everything plain.” And two, a dream held by the Jews of a day when God Himself would step down from heaven and take an active part in governing the world, inaugurating the messianic age.

What we haven’t yet discussed is that the messianic age implies a Messiah. This Messiah was the expected hope of Israel, a man who would be anointed by God and who would overcome the world, leading to the age of God’s rule.

Enter John’s Gospel, and his ingenious prologue, which makes an astounding claim: Jesus is not merely the Messiah. Jesus is also the return of God. And Jesus is the dreamed-of Logos/Spirit. How can this be?

Answer: incarnation. We have a habit, today, of overlaying John’s story of incarnation atop the birth stories of Matthew and Luke, and assuming that incarnation occurred at birth or conception. But this is not the story John tells. Rather, John describes how God came down, in the form of a dove, and chose a host as a “tabernacle.” See today’s verse. Though John does not write about the baptism of Jesus, this appears to happen as Jesus comes up out of the water from being baptized (see the other three Gospels). On that day, God came to earth, anointed a Messiah, and sent the Logos; three in one.

As John’s Gospel made inroads into Christianity in the second century, this three-in-one being through incarnation would merge with the baptismal formula of the other Gospels, where baptism was performed in the name of the “Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” God, Jesus, and Logos/Spirit. The Trinity was born.

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