Second Sunday after Christmas

by Crossings

Divine Gene Therapy
John 1:1-18
Second Sunday after Christmas
analysis by Cathy Lessmann,

based on and incorporating analysis by Ed Schroeder with this prefatory comment by Ed: “One of St. John’s key terms in this text is MONOGENES [4 syllables, MO-NO-GE-NES (hard “g”in the third syllable)], the word John uses for Jesus being God’s “only begotten, uniquely begotten” Son. The notion of “genes,” as we now use that word in English, is indeed there in the Greek term, I’m told. Jesus’s genetics, his genes, are “one of a kind.” This term provides the skeleton for all 6 steps in this analysis.”

1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. 3All things came into being through him, and without him not one thing came into being. What has come into being 4in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. 5The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it. 6There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. 7He came as a witness to testify to the light, so that all might believe through him. 8He himself was not the light, but he came to testify to the light. 9The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. 10He was in the world, and the world came into being through him; yet the world did not know him. 11He came to what was his own, and his own people did not accept him. 12But to all who received him, who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God, 13who were born, not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God. 14And the Word became flesh and lived among us, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. 15(John testified to him and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks ahead of me because he was before me.'”) 16From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18No one has ever seen God. It is God the only only Son, who is close to the Father’s heart, who has made him known.

DIAGNOSIS: The Consequences of Defective Genes

Step 1 — Initial Diagnosis: No “glow”: Dark
For two weeks we’ve been immersed in the dramatic recounting of the birth of Jesus complete with a baby in a manger, shepherds on a hill, a bad king throwing a fit, kindly, poor, and gentle parents, and spectacular angel messengers. In stark contrast, the Gospel writer John makes no attempt whatsoever to give us the same historic accounting. Instead, he takes a cosmic approach giving us a “behind-the scenes” explanation of what happened in Bethlehem and Jerusalem. John invites us to look behind the manger set, to see not only THE child, but MANY children, the children God created “in the beginning,” including us all. His deliberate allusion to Genesis 1 reminds us that we kids were made in God’s image, we were genetically wired to reflect his glory. But something dreadful happened (sin), and now instead of “glowing” we are completely dark! In fact, we prefer darkness! John says that we “did not recognize him….did not accept him,” (v. 10,11) the way he arrives. The sorry thing is, we can’t even help it! That’s the way we were born.

Step 2 — Advanced Diagnosis: Defective Genes
We can’t help it, John explains, because our lives were generated by defective “genes.” We were “born of blood, will of flesh, will of a man,” (v. 13) We lost God’s “mono genes” and although our alternate “fathers” (such as Moses and the law) seek to fix our genetic deficit by offering their own special remedies, nothing works. We can’t change our genes, they’re IN us, they DETERMINE us. And they’re defective.

Step 3 — Final Diagnosis: Destroyed life
The catastrophe about defective genes is that they destroy life. They cannot produce light and life, instead, they end up killing us. At the Final Analysis — Ultimate Paternity Test– when cosmic genetic analysis is performed, it is determined that our genes simply don’t match up to the heavenly Father’s. We’re not his children after all, we’ve belonged to some other “father.” Not only are we not his, but we also miss out on the inheritance that HIS kids get — the inheritance we sense we were originally “birthed for,” which includes the perks God’s kids get to enjoy.


Step 4 — Initial Prognosis: The Beloved Donor’s Intervention
Defective genes are helpless to change themselves. If there’s any hope at all, it has to come from outside intervention, with radical therapy involving gene splicing, and for that, “perfect” donor genes are needed. John proclaims the good news that the mono-genes (only begotten) Son of God choose to leave his privileged spot (on the Father’s lap– “close to the Father’s heart” (v. 18)) in order to bring us back into the family by offering to be our gene donor. That’s the cosmic marvel that occurred in Bethlehem! Jesus becomes the donor who saves us. But this divine transplant doesn’t happen in a test tube but rather on the cross — a therapy that cost the donor his life!

Step 5 — Advanced Prognosis: Altered “Glow”-riously
When gene transplants “take,” old cells get a new genetic makeup and are marvelously transformed. When we “believe in his name,” [faith] the transplant works! John tells us we get the “right (a better translation for the word exousia than “power”) to become children of God!” (v. 12) Transformed, or “born of the Spirit,” we are recognized as having the same genetic makeup as the Beloved Donor [mono-genes], and we are accepted as family. [We shouldn’t however, conclude that the transplant doesn’t have an affect on us recipients. We do die to our old selves, willingly giving up that old genetic makeup– something that can be mighty hard considering how comfortable those old genes were.]

Step 6 — Final Prognosis: All A-“Glow”
Our transformed lives can now do that which we were “wired” to do in the first place — glow! We “children of God” reflect the glory of the “father’s only son, full of grace and truth,” (v. 14) not just for our own sake, but to lighten the paths of those who are still in the dark, “so that all might believe through us.” (John 20:31) And that, John says, is what Christmas was all about! Talk about good news! Glory to God in the Highest!


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