It’s easy to miss the connection between the Christmas story and the creation story. The Christmas story that starts in Bethlehem is a small story inside a much larger story that begins “in the beginning” of what we know as the beginning. Are you confused yet?
By starting his Gospel with the words “in the beginning,” John intentionally triggers a flashback in our memories to the first three words of the Bible found in the book of beginnings called Genesis. Genesis 1:1 reads, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
The beginning of life on earth as recorded in Genesis is not the beginning of God’s existence any more than Bethlehem is the beginning of Jesus’s existence. The words “in the beginning” speak of God’s eternal nature. He existed in the beginning of what we know as the beginning because he is God without beginning or end.
As time-bound creatures, it’s difficult for us to wrap our minds around the eternal nature of God. And yet, the Bible clearly affirms that God has no beginning or end. Psalm 90:2 says, for example, “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever You had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, You are God.” And Psalm 93:2 says, “Your throne is established from of old; You are everlasting.” Another translation reads, “Your throne was established from long ago; you are from all eternity.”
For us, time is elusive and linear. As seconds and minutes tick away, they are gone forever. We feel as though moments slip through our fingers, and they do. The moments turn into hours, days, weeks, months and years. Before long, years become decades. We get older not younger and time seems to quicken as the years pass. Some of you are saying, “Is it Christmas already?” God never wonders where all the time went because he is eternal.
We learn from physics that time is a property that results from matter. Time, also known as the fourth dimension, exists because and when matter exists. But God is not matter; he is Spirit. According to the first ten words of the Bible, God created matter and therefore time. And so, before the beginning of it all, God simply existed and time had no meaning or relevance to him. Now that’s enough to snap a few synapses in our brains, isn’t it?
John places Jesus “in the beginning” because he wants us to know that this baby in Bethlehem was and is the eternal God of creation who has no beginning or end. Yes, the historical Jesus was born in Bethlehem nearly 2,000 years ago, but the eternal Jesus was also there at the beginning, speaking the worlds into existence (Col. 1:16).
In verse 3, John says, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” Think about it. The Christ Child born in a Bethlehem stable was the chief and only architect and builder of the universe. Then, in the fullness of time, he stepped out of eternity and into time to save us from our sins.