I grew up in a Church where we said the words of the Nicene Creed every Sunday. The words tumbled out of my mouth easily, though they didn’t mean much to me at the time. Especially the parts about Jesus, “the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God, begotten not made…being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made..who, for us men for our salvation, came down from heaven.” (Not being able to read, I misheard ‘begotten’ as ‘forgotten,’ and nothing made sense after that!)
I’ve come to love the Creed as a potent portrait of the Triune God and His stunning gospel: The Maker of heaven and earth has built a bridge, so that his finite and sinful creatures may reach Him and know Him as Father. In John Stott’s words:
“Only one bridge spans the otherwise unbridgeable gulf. It has been thrown across from the other side. It is Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son, who entered our world, became a human being, lived our life, and then died our death, the death we deserved to die because of our sins.”
It’s easy to recite words, but do we really think of Jesus as Lord of Creation? And does it really matter whether this is the Jesus we believe in, or not?
In the beginning…
It mattered greatly to John, one of Jesus’s closest disciples. The risen Jesus must have opened up the scroll of Genesis with his disciples, because John began his Gospel with the same words as Genesis 1. He made some staggering statements:
Here’s what John wrote about Jesus as Lord of Creation:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was with God in the beginning. 3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. 4 In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind… 14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth…18 No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” (John 1:1-4; 14; 18).
Here’s what Moses wrote about how the universe came into existence:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Gen 1:1-3).
Eternal and living Word
John deliberately echoed the first words from Genesis 1 to leave us in no doubt that Jesus is the Lord of Creation. He is also God’s perfect Son and image-bearer (John 1:14; 18). Yet amazingly, God’s eternal word that created the universe is also the carpenter’s son, full of grace and truth (John 1:14). The eternal word is also the living Word who lived among us.
John is unequivocal that Jesus is the eternal God who lit up the darkness, brought order from chaos and filled the emptiness at Creation. Christ was the creative word that called the cosmos into being each time God spoke, “Let there be…and there was…” We must let the full import of John’s prologue sink into our hearts and minds: Jesus of Nazareth existed at the beginning– before and outside of time, space and matter! This is not just something John made up, as Jesus claimed it too (John 17:5).
Last week I said that Christ is more than we could ever hope for. He is not just for a particular nation, era or ethnic group, but for the whole world and for all time. Jesus is not just Creator of our world, but the whole cosmos—even what’s invisible to our telescopes. He transformed the formless, dark void of nothing-ness into an earth and sky teeming with light and life, order and purpose, beauty and fruitfulness. It’s a picture of blessing.
Light of life
Yet, according to John, Christ’s creative work hasn’t stopped. The Creator is also the Re-creator (or redeemer) of his broken universe that’s no longer under God’s blessing (Gen 1:28), but under His curse (Gen 3:24).
Here’s how John describes Jesus, the true light:
“9 The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. 10 He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. 11 He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. 12 Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— 13 children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God” (John 1:9-13).
When I read this description of the true light, I think of a rescue searchlight in a gloomy cave, enveloped by pitch darkness— the darkness of Satan, ignorance, alienation, hatred, illness, fear and death. Jesus is the searchlight, seeking out lost people in the darkest corners of the cave, even those who have been blinded for so long, they no longer realize it’s dark. Each and every lost soul who responds to His searchlight, He rescues and restores to the sunlight of family, wholeness and fruitfulness. To blessing and life.
The curse is not God’s final word to us. Jesus is God’s final Word.
That’s exactly what John records Jesus doing when He left heaven to make his dwelling with us:
He announced, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Jesus filled the empty wine jars of an ashamed wedding host and restored order to His Father’s house (John 2:1-12; 14-16). He filled hungry stomachs with overflowing food, and his disciples’ empty nets with thousands of flapping fish (John 6:1-14; John 21:11). He poured living water into the dry soul of a Samaritan woman (John 4:7-42). He spoke wholeness into a lame man and brought light to the eyes of a man born blind (John 5:5-9; John 9:7; John 9:26-27). When He walked on water, Jesus defied the laws He embedded in His universe at creation (John 6:19). Just as he created the universe ex nihilo, He provided fish and bread out of nothing after his resurrection (John 21:9). He forgave and restored the dignity of an adulterous woman and breathed life into Lazarus (John 8:11; John 8:11). He forgave Peter and re-made him as a fruitful evangelist (John 21:15-17). Jesus’ stunning words matched his works, “Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be judged, but has crossed over from death to life”(John 5: 24; 21; 25). That’s the crux of the incarnation, which every one of Jesus’ miracles pointed to.
But Jesus never acted alone. From the beginning, God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have always worked together to create and re-create life.
Jesus told Nicodemus that God’s Spirit breathes new life into the hearts of born again believers (John 3:7-8). This Spirit is the same creative Spirit that fluttered over the face of the waters at Creation, waiting for God’s word to carry out His will (Gen 1:2). And exactly the same Spirit who hovered over Jesus at his baptism when the Father gave His blessing, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to Him” (John 1:32; Luke 9:35; Matt 3:17)!
Just as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit worked together to give life to the first humans (Gen 1:26), God’s word (the gospel) must go out in the Spirit’s power to create new creatures who seek after the Lord.
Here’s why I think it matters to see Jesus in Creation, even as we go about tidying messy homes, putting food on the table and stringing words together for blogs– generally bringing order from chaos: If Jesus really made and holds the universe together, then we’ll only find our life’s meaning and purpose in Him (Heb 1:1-3; Col 1:15; 16; 17). What He did at Creation, He keeps renewing day-by-day in our inner selves (2 Cor 4:16). Only the Lord of Creation can bring us through the chaos of Coronavirus and all the effects of sin, to our ultimate home. Only His Spirit can illumine the beauty of the gospel to those crouching in darkness. And only when His Spirit “hovers” over His children, will our hearts burn as we live and breathe God’s Word (Rom 12:2; 1 Peter 1:23). If we remain in a living relationship with Jesus, we will be His faithful image-bearers who bear lasting fruit (John 15:4-5; Phil 4:17; Gal 5:22-23; Matt 28:19-20). After all, if Christ spoke the universe into being, He can surely restore every empty, dark, chaotic cave in your life that is crying out right now for redemption!
Making all things new
Jesus is the word of renewal and hope we see in Genesis 1 and John 1. But our hope becomes reality when we see Jesus in the final scene of the Bible. Next time Christ comes, it won’t just be to visit earth for 33 years, but to make his home with us forever!
“He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev 21:5).
The presence of Jesus, who existed before the sun, will light the new Creation. The earth will drip with even more abundance and blessing than the Garden of Eden, and no sin or deceit will enter it again (Revelation 21:23, 27; Rev 22:2):
“Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death, or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away…” 6 He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. 7 Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children” (Rev 21:3-7).
What on earth has Christ to do with Creation? Absolutely everything!
Lord of Creation, your word has been burning in our hearts today as you’ve searched us with your powerful light. Make us new by your word day-by -day, so that we’ll bear fruit that will last. Thank you for your beautiful world, which displays your power, glory and concern for even the smallest things. Most of all, thank you for your blessed Son, in whom we are made “very good” sons and daughters, today and forever. In His beautiful name, Amen.
Poythress, Vern: How to read Genesis 1-3: Let there be light. Desiring God.
Guthrie, Nancy: The Promised One.
“This will be the seventh-day rest that every Sabbath since Eden has pointed toward and implanted in us a longing for—finally like it was in the garden at the beginning, only better, and this time, forever. God’s people in God’s place, enjoying God himself in their midst for all time.” (Nancy Guthrie- The Promised One).