The 8 Days of Creation

How the Gospel of John echoes Genesis
May 2, 2017

Like Matthew, John begins his gospel at the beginning. Matthew’s gospel opens with the genealogy or the “genesis” of Jesus Christ and John opens with an even more direct reference to Genesis – “In the beginning…” John then adds that the Word was the Creator. The Word “was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made” (1:1-5).

Christ is the New Creation, the One in whom all things are made new. Verse 4 echoes this – “In him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

Verse 5 – “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” This should remind us of Day One in creation, when God spoke light into existence. He did not yet make the sun, moon, or stars because He Himself was the light.

And Christ is also the light of the new creation – “The true light, which enlightens everyone, was coming into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (1:9-13).

Jesus was in the beginning (creation), was with God, and was God from the beginning. But, Jesus is also the new creation – the light that has come into the world and He makes men into new creations. Through Jesus, they are born again, becoming “children of God.” Christ speaking them into their “new creation.”

Christ completes each day of creation. On Day One in Genesis 1, God created light. In John 1:1-5, we are told that Christ is the light who lights every man who comes into the world.

On Day Two in Genesis, God created the firmament, separating the waters, and naming it Heaven. In the last part of John 1, John the Baptist – who baptized Jesus with water - bears witness to Jesus and the Spirit of God descended from heaven and remained on Christ. The next day, Jesus calls some of His disciples to follow Him and, at the end of the chapter, Jesus tells Nathaniel – “Truly, truly, I say to you, you will see heaven opened, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man.” Not only is Jesus saying that He is Jacob’s Ladder (see Genesis 28), but this is also Day Two of the new creation. Jesus divided the waters and declared Himself the One who connects heaven and earth.

On Day Three in Genesis, God created the dry ground and made plants and fruit trees to bear fruit for food. In John 2, the first miracle John records is when Jesus turns water into wine at the wedding in Cana. The wedding party ran out of wine, so Mary asked Jesus to intervene. They brought 6 large water jars to Jesus filled with water, and out of the water, Jesus brought wine. Not only did He suspend the natural order – making fermented wine quickly – but He also recalls us to Day Three of creation when God spoke and, out of the waters, brought forth land and trees that gave fruit (like grapes for wine) for man to enjoy. This is Day Three of the new creation.

On Day Four in Genesis, God created the sun, moon, and stars, to serve as rulers of the day and night, and to separate the light from the darkness. In John 3, Nicodemus, “a ruler of the Jews” comes to Jesus at night and Jesus tells him he needs to be born again. In 3:19-21, Jesus says, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed. But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his works have been carried out in God.” This is Day Four - Jesus is the sun, the moon, the stars, the ruler of the new creation.

On Day Five in Genesis, God made the creatures of the sea and the birds of the air. The waters were made to “swarm” with life (Genesis 1:21). And we see this in John as well. Right after His meeting with Nicodemus, in chapter 4, Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well, addressing her spiritual thirst, which far exceeds her physical thirst. He calls her to trust in Him because He is the “living water,” and those who partake of Him will never thirst again. This is Day Five of the new creation – Christ the water, swarming with life.

On Day Six in Genesis, God created man in His image, charging them to be fruitful and multiply – to have little ones and fill the earth. In John 4:46-54, right after meeting with the woman at the well, Jesus heals the son of a ruler in Cana and the ruler, and all his household, believed in Jesus. It became a redeemed household – a restored, healed family. Here is Day Six of the new creation, Christ healing men and households.

On Day Seven in Genesis, God rested from His creation and established the Sabbath pattern for man. And, as we come back to John 5, Jesus goes to the pool in Bethesda on the Sabbath, and finds a man waiting to be healed. He is blind, lame, and paralyzed (perhaps a commentary on the way the Pharisees practiced the Sabbath). Jesus heals him, telling the man to rise, take up his bed, and walk. And because He does this on the Sabbath (John 5:9), it leads to bickering by the Jews on whether Jesus had the right to heal on that day, and whether the healed man should have been allowed to carry around his bed on that day. Jesus answered, “My Father is working until now, and I am working.” This is Day Seven of the new creation. The rest Jesus brings differs greatly from that offered by the Sabbath as practiced by the Pharisees.

What happened after the seventh day? In Genesis, the creation week was over. There was no “eighth day” of creation. But, Jesus changed that too. The new creation has an eighth day, and it is the most glorious day of all. Jesus was crucified on a Friday, so when the Sabbath came, He was in the grave and all hope seemed lost. But on the day after the Sabbath came Resurrection. And immediately after healing the man by the pool, Jesus speaks of resurrection (John 5:19-29).

“For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will…Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself. And he has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:21, 24-29). 

St. Augustine (one of many Church fathers to address the eighth day) wrote that Jesus “suffered voluntarily, and so could choose His own time for suffering and for resurrection, He brought it about that His body rested from all its works on Sabbath in the tomb, and that His resurrection on the third day, which we call the Lord’s day, the day after the Sabbath, and therefore the eighth, proved the circumcision of the eighth day to be also prophetical of Him.”

John Calvin, in his commentary on Genesis 17:12, also noted this connection (though with less enthusiasm, as the broader context shows), “It is probable and consonant with reason, that the number seven designated the course of the present life. Therefore, the eighth day might seem to be fixed upon by the Lord, to prefigure the beginning of a new life.”

Christ is the new creation, the One in Whom all things are made new, and His glories are inexhaustible.

  • He is the light of the world (Day One)
  • The Son of God descended from Heaven (Day Two)
  • He is the vine Who also gives His blood for wine (Day Three)
  • Christ is the King of Heaven, the One who separates light from darkness (Day Four)
  • He is the living water (Day Five)
  • Christ is the image of the Father, the God-man, the Word made flesh (Day Six)
  • In Him we find perfect rest (Day Seven)
  • In Him we are resurrected to new and eternal life (Day Eight)
Brian  Phillips

Brian Phillips

Dr. Brian Phillips is the Director of CiRCE Consulting & the Headmaster of the CiRCE Academy.  He also serves as a pastor in Concord, NC, where he lives with his wife and their four children.

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