I was rereading the beginning of the first chapter of John this morning—about how “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” and how this Word turns into first “life” and then “the light of mankind” and so on (John 1:1-9 NIV)—with the hope of reseeing this mystifying string of metaphors not as the philosophic conundrum it usually is for me but, as a former student of mine recently referred to it in a very moving Facebook post, as one of the three versions of the story of the birth of Jesus.
I became convinced of her reading—that, in essence, the light is the baby Jesus—when I got to this line: “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 1:18 NIV). Jesus' birth, in other words, provided the concrete evidence of our unseeable God as a means of helping us to know him. That Jesus had not only seen God the Father but that that he himself was seeable gave “those who believed in his name . . . the right to become children of God” (John 1:12 NIV). I like that!
(PS: I would love to make a link to my former student's very moving Facebook post about John's nativity story—it's MUCH better than this one—but I can't figure out to do a hyperlink to a Facebook post and anyway I'd feel I needed to ask her permission and, since she's kind of self-effacing in such matters, she'd probably say no. So, if you want to try to read it, you'll have to friend Lee Ella Oglesbee and, if she accepts your friendship, go to December 14 in her Timeline.)