In The Beginning Was The Word

Ash Wednesday
John 1:1-18

Have you ever built a robot?

When I discuss human free will in my course on the problem of evil, I bring to class a reproduction of a robot known as Robby, which appeared in the 1956 film Forbidden Planet. I use Robby for two reasons: to reflect on the difficulty inherent to imparting free will to a creature and to think about whether such a relatively simple object could ever be produced as a result of a blind evolutionary process.

The second question is no less challenging than the first. Even those who are committed evolutionists hesitate to answer it in the affirmative. Intuitively, it seems impossible to assert that a random process could ever produce Robby.

The reason is simple. When push comes to shove, we all recognize, as the renowned Oxford professor of mathematics, John Lennox, often states, that discourse comes before matter. The very words you are reading right now cannot be defined ultimately by the chemical composition of the ink used to give them shape. The meaning of these words is contingent on something that precedes matter. And that is thought.

In our reading, John offers a number of earth-shattering observations. First, by echoing the great insight attested to in the first verses of the creation story, “And God said…,” John confirms the priority of meaning over matter. Second, he brings into focus the source of all discourse and intent. The all-powerful and invisible Creator made Himself known in the person of His Son, Jesus Christ. Third, the Son of God did not only come to show us the One who could never be seen by human eyes. He came to reveal the wonderful and ultimate purpose of the entire universe. Jesus became one of us to invite us to join His family and to live forever as sons and daughters of God.

How might John’s three observations focus your journey through Lent to Easter?


Pierre Gilbert is Associate Professor of Bible and Theology at MB Seminary and Canadian Mennonite University and is a part of Fort Garry MB Church in Winnipeg, MB.

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