At the climax of John’s prologue he announces the beginning of the gospel: The Word became flesh. John has already told us a good bit about that word.
The Word was “in the beginning.” John refers to the opening verse of the Bible, where we learn that the Creator is a God who speaks and a God who creates by speaking. This is the Word by which all things were made.
God’s verbalization isn’t a secondary reality in God. God didn’t start speaking, didn’t say His first word when He said “Let there be light.” Forever and ever before He spoke “Let there be light,” He spoke. God eternally verbalizes. God has always spoken.
The Word is from the beginning and from the beginning the Word is “toward” God, toward the Father. That preposition is often translated as “with,” but it means “to” or “toward.” It’s not that the Father and Word are shoulder-to-shoulder, as it were. Rather, they are face-to-face.
We can extrapolate from that by remembering what Hebrews says about the Son. The Son is the “express image” of the Father. He is the perfect mirror of the Father. And if the Word and the Father are face to face, then the Father sees Himself in His Word who is His image. The Father knows Himself in His word.
This Word who is from the beginning, who is toward God, is also Himself God. The Father is face-to-face with His image, who is such a perfect image that He is Himself wholly and fully God. Everything that you can say about the Father as God you can say about the Word; except that the Word is Word and the Father Father.
The eternal Word is the Father’s image, and His own self-expression, a perfect self-expression. God is an eternally communicative God, a God who eternally speaks Himself, a God who eternally communicates Himself.
This sounds exotic. A God who knows Himself in another, who is His word and image. A God who eternally communicates Himself and knows Himself in His self-communication. That seems to be something utterly unique to the being of God.
In fact we’re made in the image of this self-communicative God, this God who has Word and is Word. We too know ourselves in others. We know ourselves as we are face-to-face with friends, husbands, wives, sons, daughters, God.And our words are also a matter of self-communication. What we say isn’t just “things we say.” What we say exposes the kinds of persons we are. Jesus says we will be judged every word we have spoken. Jesus says that the things that are on our heart come out through the mouth; what’s crucial isn’t what goes in but what comes out.
It might be good news that my Creator speaks and is eternally speaking. It might be good news that He communicates Himself in a Word that is also God, that his Word is in the strictest sense possible a self-communication, God Himself communicated, God Himself verbalized, God spoken as God.
But can that word reach me? Can I hear that eternal word? God and the Word are face to face, but John says “no man has seen God at any time.”
So it doesn’t seem to help much to know that the Father and the Word are eternally toward one another, unless there’s a way for me to get into the middle of that intimate relationship.
God the Word speaks an eternal Word, but here I am in creation, in time, not in eternity. God the Word speaks an eternal Word, eternally communicates Himself as Word, but I’m enslaved to sin, my eyes blinded and my ears deafened by my own idolatry and sin. I have worshiped wordless idols and I have become like them. I have worshiped gods that cannot hear, and I have become deaf.
John’s news about God isn’t fully good news until we get to the end of the prologue, until we learn that the Word isn’t simply in the beginning, toward God, God Himself in self-communication, but that the Word has become flesh.
His good news is that the Word became flesh, God’s self-communication, the self-communication of God that is Himself God, he entered flesh. The good news is that the God who speaks Himself speaks Himself in our condition. He speaks Himself in a place and a way that I can hear. He shines light into my darkness so that, seeing Him, I can see.