The Two Great Mysteries of Christianity

John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

There are two great mysteries at the heart of Christianity, the Trinity and the person of Jesus Christ: (1) God the three in one; and (2) Jesus the two in one. How could God be one God yet eternally exist in three distinct persons, and how can Jesus be one person yet possess two distinct natures, fully God and fully human?

This verse touches both mysteries. He (Christ, the Word) was God, yet He was with God in the beginning. He was God, yet distinct from God.

The great theme of John’s Gospel is the divinity of Christ, and it reaches its climax in the declaration of Thomas in John 20:28: “My Lord and my God!” But the first verse, John 1:1, provides the backdrop for the whole book. Note the progression of logic in this verse:

  • John 1:1 speaks of our Christ’s preexistence: In the beginning was the Word.
  • It also speaks of His coexistence: And the Word was with God.
  • And John 1:1 speaks of His divine existence: And the Word was God.

The Trinity and Jesus! Both mysteries are imponderables we can never fathom, which is only to be expected if God is really God and Jesus is truly who He claims to be. It’s been said that a God small enough to be understood isn’t big enough to be worshiped. We need a transcendent God who boggles our minds with His immensity and who brings His infinities to bear on our infirmities. We need a gospel that opens with words like these: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

Georgia Gordon, who grew up in the deep South in the days of slavery, received no education as a young girl. But one day she heard a preacher reciting John 1:1. Deeply impressed, she memorized the verse; and when she got home, she asked someone who could read to point out the verse in the Bible. She studied it until she could recognize the words one by one, and she searched through the Bible for others like them. In this way, little by little, she learned to read. She later became a brilliant student at Fisk University in Nashville and one of the famous Jubilee Singers from Fisk who introduced Black Spirituals to the world.18

MEMORY TIP
Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 have a similar chapter-and-verse “address,” and they start with the same words. Genesis 1:1 focuses on God in the beginning and John 1:1 on Jesus—the Word—in the beginning. By memorizing them together, you’re almost learning two verses as easily as one.

Here are two mysteries for the price of one—the plurality of persons within the unity of God, and the union of Godhead and manhood in the person of Christ. . . . The more you think about it, the more staggering it gets.”19—J. I. Packer

Published by Intentional Faith

Devoted to a Faith that Thinks

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