Jesus the Word
1 In the beginning was the one
who is called the Word.
The Word was with God
and was truly God.
2 From the very beginning
the Word was with God.
3 And with this Word,
God created all things.
Nothing was made
without the Word.
Everything that was created
4 received its life from him,
and his life gave light
5 The light keeps shining
in the dark,
and darkness has never
put it out.
14 The Word became
a human being
and lived here with us.
We saw his true glory,
the glory of the only Son
of the Father.
From him all the kindness
and all the truth of God
have come down to us.
16 Because of all that the Son is, we have been given one blessing after another. 17 The Law was given by Moses, but Jesus Christ brought us undeserved kindness and truth. 18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is truly God and is closest to the Father, has shown us what God is like. (John 1:1-5,14,16-18 CEV)
This passage is incredibly loaded, even with the verse that I trimmed out (about John the Baptist). The main message, of course, is that Jesus is the Word of God.
The word translated as Word here is the Greek “logos”. It could be translated into about 100 different English words with how much meaning it carried for both Greek and Jewish readers. It captures the idea of “creative source of everything”. It captures the idea of “purpose behind everything”. In Genesis we saw that God created the world through speaking and the prophets often speak after having the Word of God come to them.
We’ll focus on one meaning from our most common English translation: Word, the basis of communication. What is God’s primary and only complete mode of communication with us? Jesus. Not exclusively Jesus. Christians believe that God has spoken through Scripture, through common sense, through nature, and through the Holy Spirit guiding the Church past and present. All of these things are valuable, but only Jesus is the full revelation of God.
This text in John is not the only one to claim this about Jesus:
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father. That is all we need.”
9 Jesus replied:
Philip, I have been with you for a long time. Don’t you know who I am? If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. How can you ask me to show you the Father? 10 Don’t you believe that I am one with the Father and that the Father is one with me? What I say isn’t said on my own. The Father who lives in me does these things. (John 14:8-10)
Paul similarly claims Jesus is the exact representation of God:
15 Christ is exactly like God,
who cannot be seen.
He is the first-born Son,
superior to all creation (Colossians 1:15)
Jesus and the Bible
Paul even goes so far as to say that people reading the old covenant without the lens of Jesus are missing the truth, much like John’s contrast of the Law given to Moses but grace and truth being through Jesus:
14 The people were stubborn, and something still keeps them from seeing the truth when the Law is read. Only Christ can take away the covering that keeps them from seeing. (2 Corinthians 3:14)
The author of Hebrews begins with this:
1 Long ago in many ways and at many times God’s prophets spoke his message to our ancestors. 2 But now at last, God sent his Son to bring his message to us. God created the universe by his Son, and everything will someday belong to the Son.3 God’s Son has all the brightness of God’s own glory and is like him in every way. By his own mighty word, he holds the universe together. (Hebrews 1:1-3a)
Jesus said a similar sentiment about John the Baptist:
Was he a prophet? He certainly was! I tell you that he was more than a prophet. 27 In the Scriptures, God calls John his messenger and says, “I am sending my messenger ahead of you to get things ready for you.” 28 No one ever born on this earth is greater than John. But whoever is least important in God’s kingdom is greater than John. (Luke 7:26b-28)
John’s revelation was greater than any of the prior prophets and his revelation was to prepare the way for Jesus, the ultimate revelation, which would enable those of us who come later to see more clearly.
In other words, not all revelation is created equal. It definitely does not mean that there is nothing to be gained from the Old Testament or others after Jesus. Christians believe that all Scripture is God-breathed and useful in many ways (2 Timothy 3:16). It is much more like John the Baptist – divinely inspired to help us encounter Jesus – rather than like Jesus. We first and foremost remember that God looks exactly like Jesus.
Medium is the Message
If we think of Marshall Mcluhan’s famous maxim “the medium is the message” this has some implications. If God’s primary mode of communication was Scripture, we could draw from this the message that God is static, active in the past but not anymore. If God’s primary mode of communication was/is the Church, we could draw from that we are pretty much God ourselves as a collective. If God’s primary mode of communication was speaking to us one-on-one, we could mistake every thought of our own to be the same as God. If God’s primary mode of communication was through common sense, it would imply that God is primarily concerned with intelligence or believing the right thoughts.
While we’ve seen many shadows of God’s heart throughout prior texts (Hebrews 10:1) and can get hints from experience, tradition, and the guiding of the Spirit, in Jesus we see God in the flesh acting as one of us and calling us to follow his lead. Our Jesus-looking God is alive and active in restoring the world.