Friday, January 23, 2009

The Prequel

In Hollywood, they produce movies to tell some sort of a story (and make money, of course). And then, if the movie does really well at the box office, they’ll come out with a sequel to continue the story (and capitalize on its popularity). However, after a sequel or two, they face a problem – even though the original movie and sequel(s) were popular, the main characters have been killed off, they are too old to continue their escapades, or the story was “too neatly wrapped” to go any further.
Solution? A prequel! That’s right – start a new story from before the time the original started. Is that brilliant, or what?!
Well, brilliant or not, it’s not particularly original. In fact, the concept of a prequel was originated in the Bible (although that story had not grown stale).

Genesis 1:1 tells us “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” From there, we read the stories of Adam, Noah, the Patriarchs, the Kings, the prophets, the captivities, etc. . . right up to Jesus’ birth, life, crucifixion, and resurrection. And then, even though the stories weren’t even close to finished (see John 21:25), we get a “prequel.”
That’s right - After all the other Gospels had been written, after the letters of Paul, Peter, and James had been sent to the early churches - John wrote the inspired “prequel,” which began: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. (John 1:1-2)
Even though John 1 and Genesis 1 sound similar (“In the beginning . .”), you will notice that Genesis picks up the story with the creation of the heavens and earth. John, however, backs up to before that. John is saying that before time began, before there was any “matter” - in eternities past – God was there. And not just that, but Jesus was with God (for eternities past) and Jesus was God.
John then jumps ahead through whatever time-space continuum there was to pick up where Genesis started and tells us, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:3) So, John is telling us that Jesus was pre-existent and was (is) responsible for everything that’s been made.
That’s some incredible stuff to think about - especially if you were one of those who knew the man, Jesus. How often do you think John pondered such things? And at what point do you think John actually “got it?” Surely he was exposed to and witnessed unbelievable, astonishing things during the time he walked with Jesus – John witnessed Jesus feeding thousands of people with virtually no food; he was there when Jesus walked on water and calmed the storm; he saw Jesus transfigured into His glorified state; he was there when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead.
But, when did he “get it?” When did John understand that Jesus didn’t just walk the Earth for 33 years and do lots of cool miracles. When did John realize that Jesus was the main character (and “Star”) of the prequel?
Well, maybe . . .

Camped along the Sea of Galilee on a cool evening, John awakens from his sleep. He opens his eyes to a clear, moonless night with billions of stars over head. The campfire cracks and John turns his head toward its glimmer. From the soft glow of the embers, John can see Jesus’ face clearly, as Jesus is sleeping on another side of the fire.
John wonders to himself, “Can that man, my best friend, really be who he claims to be? Could that sleeping man actually have placed those stars in the sky over my head? I call him my “lord,” but can he really be my God?”
Just then, Jesus serenely opens His eyes, without stirring, and looks right back at John. He smiles slightly before He closes His eyes again and returns to His slumber.
Yet in that moment, John senses the loving assurance that, “Yes, before that manger in Bethlehem, before that burning bush, before the Garden – I AM. And now I am here with you John.”
With his heart pounding and his mind racing, John cannot possibly get back to sleep. He stares into the heavens, past the stars, and he contemplates – “He was there; He was there then. But now He’s here! Now He’s here with me! He is God and He is right here with me!”

I don’t know if such a scene ever took place or not. And I don’t pretend to know when John actually “got it.” But from reading about the “prequel,” I know that at some point John definitely understood that the God of the entire universe – the Pre-Existent One responsible for creating every single thing – sought out a personal relationship with him.
Over the past 2,000 years, there have been billions of stories played out on the “silver screen” of history, including yours. And none of those stories makes any sense or has any lasting significance apart from the Prequel.
He existed before what can be imagined. He will endure beyond what is conceivable. And when it “clicked” with John who Jesus really was, he wrote His story “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.” (John 20:31)
And as his “review” of the Prequel, John wrote:
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only,
who came from the Father, full of grace and truth
. (John 1:14)

What about you - Do you “get it?”
Have you gotten your head around the concept that Jesus has always existed? That nothing exists apart from Him having created it? That Jesus stepped out of His majestic, eternal glory to become a man? That Jesus let His own creation humiliate, torture, and kill Him? And that the reason the Pre-Existent One did all of that was so you could live with Him forever?
John “got it.” Sometimes, I’m sure that I get it, too.
He is the Alpha and the Omega; the Prequel and the Sequel.
He’s my best friend; He’s my God. He is the Greatest Story ever told.

Studying His story,
Craig Hollingsworth

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