By Marcy Barthelette

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. Genesis 1:1

In the beginning…..wait, that was my lead-in to the Lenten season last year. In those few weeks, we followed Jesus from the celebration of his birth through the pain of the cross, then the triumph of his Resurrection. But maybe the beginning wasn’t in a stable, maybe we need to let our minds travel back much further to a time that didn’t yet exist. Imagine, if you can, that everything we know is gone; there is only space. The universe, or whatever we choose to call it, doesn’t exist. There are no mountains, no lakes, no plants or animals, and no humans. But God speaks and at the sound of His voice, heaven and earth begin. There is no real form to this new earth. Genesis paints a canvas of darkness and meaningless swirls of water.

Then suddenly God summons the light and the darkness gives way to a bright new day!

But the waters of heaven and the waters of earth still mingle until God speaks again and separates the two and calls the space between them “sky.”

Next, He chooses to add land to the canvas and follows it with plants, all kinds of plants capable of bearing seeds and reproducing themselves. Then he sees a need to separate the light from the darkness and so two great lights are planted in the sky, the larger one He calls sun and it provides bright illumination and warmth by day. The smaller, less dominant one, becomes the moon and, along with a myriad of stars, they become the beacons of the cooler night.

Now it’s time to populate this new earth with birds and sea creatures, then every kind of animal, each one fruitful in reproduction.

Then God said, “Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us.” Genesis 1:26

Did you catch that? He didn’t say he wanted humans to be like Him. He used the terms “our image” and “to be like us.” We tend to think of Jesus as a tiny baby who just appeared in Mary’s womb out of nowhere. That verse from the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible, God’s Holy Word, refers to a plural deity. Jesus was the Word and He had lived with His Father in heaven from the beginning of everything. Those terms “our” and “us” offer new depth to the words “in the beginning.”

Thousands of years later, as God contemplated the behaviors of his humans, he was not surprised that our world had spun completely out of control. He knew all along that we would need a pathway to redemption and he had the perfect plan. He would send his own son to earth, not as a king or a conqueror, but as a completely dependent human infant.  

And though Jesus knew every accusation that would be hurled at him and could already feel the sting of the whips on his back and the prick of the thorns on his brow; though he knew about the nails that would pierce His hands and feet, he came anyway. He came because he loves us and wants each of us to join him in heaven one day. We can’t, even in our wildest imaginations, begin to grasp the magnitude of that act. Knowing what he sacrificed, what he endured, can we imagine rejecting his offer of love and redemption?

In the beginning, the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:1  

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