The Outsider

[1] In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. [2] He was in the beginning with God. [3] All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. [4] In him was life, and the life was the light of men. [5] The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.

[6] There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. [7] He came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. [8] He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light.

[9] The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. [10] He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. [11] He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. [12] But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, [13] who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.

[14] And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. [15] (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) [16] For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. [17] For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. [18] No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.

(John 1:1-18, ESV)

This is such a strange part of the Bible. Don’t be frustrated by how odd it is, or how it’s difficult to grasp fully. The ideas themselves are so high above us, and they should be. God told us we aren’t going to understand Him, but the one thing that’s clear is this: Jesus – codename “word’ in these verses – bursts into our world from the outside, way outside of the furthest reach of space and time. He is the ultimate outsider, coming into a universe He created separately from Himself. The attractive idea here is that an “outsider” has the chance to be objective. He has a unique perspective and is the one true privileged observer- what He observes affects neither Him nor His observations. 

New politicians love to leverage this idea in our day, touting themselves as untainted by the political structures of Washington. They sell this idea to voters- that they, being a supposed outsider, have independence and a fresh direction. Perhaps it’s true, or perhaps it isn’t, but we understand what they’re saying. “I’m above all that. My loyalty is only to the voter and not to any lobbyists or special interests.” 

What they’re selling, Jesus is giving away for free. He has a love that begins in eternity. His advent begins in a plan from beyond time. His coming to save us was for His reasons and not ours. So, what is the trajectory of His advent, of Jesus’ coming? Where does it go, and where does it end up? This is where it becomes more and more marvelous to us, because we can plot that trajectory. It goes from eternal love to our hearts and then back to Him, saving us and transforming us and taking us along for a ride – on a curve that dips down into death itself and catapults us into eternal life.  Praise Him! 

As you read this chapter, also think about your experience of being an outsider yourself. We have all been there. Perhaps, in the end, we will come to see that our hunger to be an “insider” is merely an idol that doesn’t look at all like Jesus.