Jesus, the greater Word

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Your word is truth (John 17:17).

In theory, I do not think most people have a hard time admitting that Jesus is the greatest.

There are certainly many who make an effort to lay claim to the title, such as Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan and even Randy Moss (I didn’t say they were all legitimate). The fact remains, though, that Jesus has no parallel. He stands alone; there is not even a close second.

The abstract reality of Jesus’ greatness is much easier to accept than its practical implications. When it comes to things that we hold in close proximity, especially, we are not as eager to see this reality come to bear.

For the Apostle John’s Jewish and Greek audience, Christ’s supremacy came into conflict with the long-standing ideologies of both groups. He writes:

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. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:1-5)

So, why is this such a big deal? How is John picking with the Jews and Greeks based off this passage?

Well, the key here is to focus on the word, “Word.” Word, rendered logos in the original Greek language, has a distinct meaning for each group.

For the Greeks, logos was a reference to not only to the spoken word, but the unspoken—the reason. The reason, moreover, is what gave structure to the universe, governing all things.

For the Jews, the Word represented their prized law. This was not exclusively the five books of Moses (Torah), but was certainly the major emphasis; the Sadducees (temple ruling party who controlled the high priesthood) only accepted the Torah as divinely inspired of the 39 Old Testament books.

While the Greeks hold “reason” in high esteem and the Jews elevated “the law,” John tells each group that there is something greater. He makes it quite clear that the Word that he is referring to is none other than the divine Son of God; “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth . . . For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:14, 17).

John declares that Jesus is the greater Word.

Even so, why is this problematic?

The Apostle Paul lends us a rather appropriate answer to this question in his first letter the Corinthians. He writes:

For the message (logos) of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.”

Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believeJews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than man’s wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man’s strength. (1 Corinthians 1:18-25)

The message concerning Christ, in essence, debunks all other attempts at wisdom and exposes the falsehood of any other message that claims to be the truth. The stark contrast between the logos of God and that of man is so severe that it is either deemed foolish or offensive.

Greeks, looking for wisdom, did not find much in a crucified man and sneered upon hearing about the resurrection from the dead (Acts 17:32). The Jews who were quick to ask Jesus for a sign (John 2:18; 6:30-31), though they had their fair share, would ultimately be given the sign of Jonah (Matthew 12:38-39). Unfortunately, a Jewish people anticipating a triumphant warrior-king who would bring them political liberation were appalled at the notion of a crucified Christ—even if he did rise from the dead.

Embracing God’s greater Word requires total abandonment of what was previously considered as such. God’s Word is not about the philosophy of the Greeks or the religious duty of the Jews, but the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ and his willingness to shine his light in the darkened hearts of man. Man’s wisdom and knowledge does not save (Colossians 2:8), nor is one justified by observing the law (Galatians 2:16), but only by embracing the grace and truth found in Jesus Christ.

For both Jews and Greeks, they actually do find what they are looking for in Jesus. Hebrews 1:1-3 informs:

In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

Jews, who esteemed the Old Testament Scriptures (law) as God’s word by which he created all things, find that God is still speaking through the Son who created the universe. Greeks, who claimed that reason governed all things and gave structure to the universe, find that the Son sustains all things with his powerful word as he is seated on his throne of governance.

Sounds like a win-win to me.

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~ by christianballenger on February 19, 2013.

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