On the Seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me, Jesus who came and saved me – John 1:1-18
How you begin a book and position the first few pages makes all the difference. The beginning of book gives you its setting, its purpose, its style. It may not reveal the plot but sets you in the mood to sit back and read on or to sit up and study intensely.
Prologues however, stand out especially in ancient writings because they were often used to introduce the important characters in the narrative, situate them within the story, and give some understanding of their importance. But most of all, prologues as in the case of this text of St John, would project the plot by explaining both seen and unseen forces within the action. In short, we are given a sneak preview into the ‘behind the scene’ activities of God. Before we meet Jesus in Jerusalem or in Galilee, we meet him “In the beginning … with God.”
But central to this text is verse 12. Christ had come to his own, he came as the light and yet his own did not receive him. The hero of this story is met with tragic rejection in chapter one and so the plan of God had to change. So, to all who did receive him; the gentiles and prostitutes and tax collectors and sinner, you and me; for all of us, he changed the game. To these who believed in his name, a name which is above every other name, he gave them the power, the right, the privilege to become the children of God.
This is a game changer. Up until now you had to be a Jew, a descendent of Abraham to sit at the table. But all that changes in the prologue, now you just have to believe in the name of Jesus to receive the power to become his children. It will be from the East and the West and the North and the South that God will welcome his children who accept his son Jesus, to be their saviour.
Wherever Jesus went, the crowds that followed him or listened to his teaching got split into two groups — a large group of Jews who refused to believe in Jesus, claiming to be “Abraham’s descendants”; and a smaller group of people who believed in Jesus. The apostle John calls the former group “Jews.” The latter group too were from the same Jewish background. But John refuses to call them “Jews.” He called them “disciples” or the “flock” that belonged to Jesus, or the “branches” of the true vine. Even John did not wish to be called a “Jew”; he wanted his readers to know him as ‘the disciple whom Jesus loved.’