December 6, 2013

Long ago in Bethlehem . . .

There is a difference between a word from God and the Word of God, yet both of them are the means by which God makes Himself known. The first one tilts toward communication while the Word of God is about incarnation.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. (John 1:1–5) And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:14)

“Word” in these verses is “logos.” It started out as a technical philosophical term, then became a concept for the Stoics to describe principles that gave the world its character and coherence. Then Philo, a philosophical theologian of Judaism, tried to reconcile Greek philosophical theories about the universe with the biblical accounts of creation by God’s spoken word.

In the Bible, John and others choose this Word to designate Jesus, God the Son, who became flesh to mediate between God and us. The Logos is both God’s creative means and His revelation of Himself. He also holds the world together by “the Word of His power.

When Jesus began His ministry, the people wanted signs to prove who He was. He calmed the storms, turned water into wine, healed the sick, and raised the dead, but that wasn’t enough. “He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him” (John 1:11).

While the Jews expected their Messiah to deliver them from Roman oppression, they did not expect God Himself to come. They looked at the divine things He did and the human body that He was in and said No, this is not possible. Our God is too holy, too transcendent, too almighty to be born in a stable, to become one of us. He must be blaspheming.

Yet our God did become human. We cannot see Him, so He accommodated our need to see. I could speculate about His birth, but instead accept that it was the first miracle — Jesus was not born of a father or any man, yet He was born in the flesh. This is not so strange when I remember that this Word who became flesh also made the first father and mother by speaking, so why could He not be virgin born? Nothing is impossible for God.

Jesus offered signs and wonders. He performed miracles. He never sinned, not once. But He also claimed to be God — and for that they rejected and killed Him.

As He suffered and died, the Logos asked His Father to forgive those who nailed Him there. In that suffering and death He paid the penalty for our sin and brought forgiveness and the offer of eternal life. As the Bible says, “To all who did receive him, who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).

This Logos could not be held in death by a tomb or by the will of man. In the resurrection, He offered the final proof, the final miracle to show everyone who He is and why He came. If this does not show His deity; if this cannot be believed — then there is nothing left for those who ask for more proof.

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