“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth.”
John 1:1-4, 14
There is quite a lot of theology contained in these five verses, so much that many gifted minds have expended hundreds of thousands of words in attempting to explain their meaning. I am not here to necessarily do that, for I do not believe I possess the capabilities to do so. However, I do want to explore what the grand idea contained in John Chapter One is: the divine logos and the incarnation. For here in these verses we are offered the foremost description of the birth of Christ and what it means for us. Some may wonder what I mean by this considering that only two of the gospels, Matthew and Luke, describe Christ’s birth. While Matthew and Luke provide us with the details of the birth of Christ, it is here in John where we are given a glimpse into the very meaning of Christ’s birth, and the answer of life’s mystery; for, reality itself was described when “the word became flesh and dwelt among us.” So, what is the meaning of Christmas? What is the reason for the season? What is the purpose for celebration? These are the questions I want to answer here so that we head into Christmas with the correct vision and do not aimlessly partake in all the pomp and circumstance of the holidays.
To begin, the Greek translation of “word” is “logos.” It refers to something that is said, implicating a topic, purpose, or motive. In John, it is referencing the “divine expression” of God: namely, Jesus Christ. The very idea of “logos” is all around us in the world. Our world is suffused with patterns, meanings, purpose, and ends we pursue. We see it in our literature, art, music, religions, and so on. It is written into the fabric of reality and reflected in the ways in which we interact with the world. These patterns all seem to represent, paint a picture of, and point to something: Perhaps to some grand pattern, form, or truth - what Plato described as the ultimate form toward which all forms point: the Good.
In the Christian worldview, one will find many of these patterns. They can also be found elsewhere: in the wisdom of the Stoics, Kant, Aristotle, the Hindus, the Buddhists, and so on. One can even find one of the foremost patterns of reality – descent and ascent – in the stories of pagan religions where gods die for some worthy or just cause. This overlap is often used as a critique of Christianity. It will be said that the story of Christ is merely a repetition of these older stories because there are striking similarities between them. Therefore, just as those pagan stories, the story of Christ is merely a myth. Sadly, many Christians have let this become a valid critique. For C.S. Lewis, this argument was most certainly not a critique; in fact, Lewis claimed that it is just what we should suspect, and if we did not see these patterns, these “pagan Christs,” it would be a stumbling block for the Christian faith. It may seem counterintuitive, but it is not because the repetition found across religious stories serves as evidence of the divine logos and the incarnation.
In the aforementioned critique of the Christian worldview, there is one correct claim made (quite an important one at that): namely, that the story of Christ is a myth. Many modern Christians run from this truth, but we should run no more. The skeptic goes wrong in claiming it is merely a myth, though. As C.S. Lewis reasoned, Christ is a myth that became fact. The parallels of pagan myths with sacrificial gods point, just like all patterns of reality, to the logos, purpose, and reason for reality itself that has been with God since the beginning, which, as John Chapter One states, is God himself. These common symbols lead us to the very purpose of reality itself; the divine logos; and the very thing reality exists through and for (Colossians 1:16): Jesus Christ. This is why scripture describes Christ as the