John begins his gospel with a revolution in human thought about God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1). In one simple sentence John introduces the hitherto unthinkable idea that within the very being of God there is relationship. The Jews were taught that the Lord their God is one (DT 6:4). The Greeks believed that while the being of God was unknowable, it was nonetheless clearly indivisible, simple, incapable of relationality. As a Jew, John knew well the opening declaration of the sacred Scriptures: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (GEN 1:1) But John had met Jesus, and “beheld his glory, the glory of the only begotten from the Father” (1:14). So John, while not disagreeing with his Jewish heritage, nevertheless could not possibly be silent about what he has seen and heard and experienced in Jesus Christ, the Father’s eternal Son (see IJN 1:1-3). While John wholeheartedly agrees with the Jews that God created the heavens and the earth; he is determined to fill in the blanks, so to speak, about the deepest truth of the Creator God.
That the Word was with God means not simply that the Word and God were together, but that they were face to face. This is not a peripheral point for John. It is fundamental. The beautiful imagery of the Son being “in the bosom of the Father” (1:18), which John uses to close his famous prologue, is his way of emphasizing that the Father-Son relationship is as critical as it is non-negotiable. He begins and ends his introduction to his gospel with relationship within the being of God.
From the first word throughout his gospel, John’s portrait of Jesus is that he is the Father’s Son who lives in direct, intimate, free-flowing intimacy with his Father. “For the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hands” (3:35) “Truly, truly I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, unless it is something He sees the Father doing; for whatever the Father does, these things the Son also does in like manner. For the Father loves the Son and shows Him all things that He Himself is doing…” (5:19-20). For John, so personal, so real, so beautifully intimate is this relationship and fellowship between the Father and the Son that his imagination is stretched to the breaking point to describe it. Any description of this relationship shy of utter oneness betrays its intimacy and depth. “I and the Father are one” (10:30). “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9). Yet clearly the Father and Son remain distinct persons.
Why is it so important for John that Jesus is the Father’s only Son and lives in such oneness and shared life with the Father? Because this relationship is the heart of John’s vision of the gospel itself. This Son, who dwells in the bosom of the Father from all eternity, sharing all things with him in the Holy Spirit, became flesh and dwells among us. For John, Jesus himself is the good news. He has crossed all worlds to be with us and to give us a place in nothing less that his own divine life, so that we could know his Father with him and share in his anointing in the Holy Spirit.