John audaciously puts it out there that he’s writing a new Genesis, a new beginning to God’s story. This new story tells of God’s new interaction with humanity. Jesus’ birth is the beginning of that new story. Jesus is God’s reinvention, rebirth, and renewal of all of creation and God’s own self. It’s the story of God making manifest God’s enduring love for and commitment to the world through ordinary, finite flesh.
That’s a lot to take in, isn’t it? Especially after all the warm and fuzzy holiday cheer!
John, however, has a purpose: what we see in Jesus is what we can expect from God. Jesus isn’t just the messenger. Jesus is God, creating and redeeming only as God can. John has only two things he wants us to know: (1) the Eternal and Divine Word took on human flesh in the person of Jesus, and (2) this Jesus introduces a new chapter in God’s story, grace. While God “as God” is beyond our comprehension or knowledge, Jesus reveals God’s heart, making known to us the character and commitment of the One who can create and redeem.
John goes on in his gospel using all kinds of metaphors for the grace upon grace, beyond what we could ever imagine, that God has to bestow on us: grace so abundant it’s the best wine offered; rivers of living waters overflowing from our hearts; unending growth on the vine and branches on the tree of life.
Why this passage is used every year during the Christmas season is to reminds that it’s really our own new birth and beginning that augments Jesus birth story. God coming in flesh gives humanity hope that we are more than the sum of our parts. God in Christ makes sacred our created lives and frees us from those things which hold us back in our frail and fragile selves. The Word becomes flesh so that we all may live into our identity as God’s beloved children. We are part of the Christmas story!