In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
We talked yesterday about how the gospel of John is an eyewitness account of three years of Jesus' life. And we talked about the purpose of the book -- it's written to help people believe on Christ and to have eternal life in Him.
But this book is NOT only for unbelievers! Christians must go on believing in Jesus to be saved in the end . . . later in John (15:6) Jesus says, "If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire and burned." So we can see that John is writing both to spark faith in unbelievers, and to sustain faith in believers.
Today, let's focus on "the Word." Why did John call Jesus that?
I think we will see in our studies that John came to see the words of Jesus as the truth of God, and also saw the person of Jesus as the truth of God -- that these were so intertwined, so unified, that Jesus Himself was the message of God.
Let's dig deeper.
John used a word that both his Jewish and Gentile readers would be familiar with: Logos. That is the Greek word in this passage that is translated "Word." Logos was a common concept in both Jewish and Greek thought and philosophy in that day.
The Jewish listener would have heard the "word" of God from the Old Testament, personified (acting like a human) as an instrument for the carrying out of God's will. If you would like to check out some verses, try Psalm 33:6, or 107:20.
In Greek philosophy, logos was used to describe how their gods (and they had a slew of 'em!) would create things and communicate with them. Logos was thought of as a kind of bridge between the gods and the material, tangible world.
So, what John did in this introduction was to use a familiar word that would have made a good starting point for both the Jewish and the Gentile readers -- but then he goes a step further.
He presents Jesus not merely as a bridge for communication, but as a real, living being -- fully divine, but yet fully human. In verse 14, we will study where John writes, "the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us."
So he makes the distinction that Jesus was God's revelation of Himself in the flesh, that He is the living Word of God, revealing God to man so that all who believe in Him can be redeemed from their sin. This is what God wanted to say to mankind. It was not only or mostly what Jesus said, but also who Jesus was, and what He did, too. When Jesus spoke, His words explained Himself and His work, but that self and that work were the main truths -- the message that God wanted to reveal. "I am the truth," He said in John 14:6, and He came to witness to the truth, as well. (John 18:37)
John uses this same terminology in Revelation. In Revelation 19:13, he describes Jesus Christ's return in glory: "He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which He is called is the Word of God."
We humans like to say that we have the "last word" in certain situations. John is telling us that he has witnessed all the truth, the glory, the light; he's heard all of the words that Jesus said in his living and teaching, and in his dying and rising again . . .and he sums it all up by saying that He is "the Word."
He is the final, the ultimate, the decisive, true and reliable Word of God.
And we'll talk tomorrow about the fact that He always has been!