Lent 2017: Day 1 (Ash Wednesday)

Ecce Agnus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God), Giovanni di Paolo (Siena, ca. 1403-1483)

Ecce Agnus Dei (Behold the Lamb of God), Giovanni di Paolo (Siena, ca. 1403-1483)

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John bore witness about him, and cried out, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.' ") For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father's side, he has made him known. — Jn 1:1-18

In the middle of our first reading for Lent, one of the most poetic and beautiful descriptions of Jesus in all of Scripture, we find this: “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John” (John 1:6). While this man is not the writer John, but rather John the Baptist, it still seems odd to interrupt this understanding of Jesus as The Word and The Light. And yet, John plays a similar role as Jesus does to God: As Jesus came in order that we might know God more, John was sent so that we might know Jesus more. Jesus came to earth to give flesh and bones to the God who loved His people so dearly that He needed to come be with them in order to save them. The book of John gives us a first-hand view into the life of Jesus, its pages helping us know and love Jesus more than we could without it, through the eyes of the disciples, who loved Jesus with everything they had.

As we enter this study of John through Lent, let us look to John 1:14 as the lens with which we will study these verses. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John has seen his glory, and he has written this Gospel so that we might, too, be a witness to Christ's glory, from the Father, full of grace and truth. His first-hand eyewitness provides us a lens through which are invited to come and see and experience the transforming presence of Jesus.

Prayer: Lord, As we enter into this Lenten season, may we know know more intimately our need for You through Your glory as it is revealed in John. Let us experience Your grace and truth that we might believe and live with newness of life, to Your praise and honor. In Jesus’ name, Amen.