Christmas | John 1:1-18
Power to Become Children
In "The Pivot of John's Prologue," New Testament Studies 27 (1980) : 1-31, Alan Culpepper argues that the prologue is a chiasm with a center point at v. 12b: "he gave power to become children of God." Here is a look at the chiasm (.pdf) that Culpepper outlines.
I've always liked this way of reading the prologue, probably because I think the whole gospel's point is to give us power to become children of God. If that is true, it makes sense that John would shape the prologue to highlight this gift and the difference it makes. Jesus' interest in giving "power to become children of God" may also be why Jesus is always referring to God as Father in this gospel: Jesus wants to say something about the kind of relationship with God that he knows and is eager to share with the rest of God's children. He makes this sibling connection between himself and his followers explicit at the end of the gospel when he tells Mary to take word to the disciples, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God" (John 20:17b).
How about this for a way to understand the incarnation? God's premier child comes to bring his brothers and sisters to the home where we belong—or better, he comes to bring home to us. Late in his ministry, Jesus says, "Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them" (John 14:23). To make this home for all of us ("all of us" meaning Father, Son, Holy Spirit and humanity together—no wonder we need "many rooms" [John 14:1]), Jesus takes up residence in a few different rooms of his own: rooms—or space at least—in Bethlehem (Luke 2), Egypt (Matthew 2), Nazareth and various other points between Galilee and Jerusalem, ending up (again) without any room at all, crucified on a hill outside the holy city. All of it is to give us power to become children of God.