The Word
January 29, 2018

Names of Jesus
“The Word”

If you want to express yourself, you could use actions, or as they say, “Actions speak louder than words.” Or, you can use your words to convey your thoughts. Actually, the best way would be through both, allowing both your actions and words to speak to your intent.

This is exactly what God did in sending His Son, Jesus Christ. Both God’s actions and words are tied into the name the Apostle John uses in describing Jesus as “The Word.”

When Jesus Christ walked among us as “The Word,” He expressed what was on God’s mind, from His actions (performing miracles, healing sickness and disease, raising the dead, and His death and resurrection), to His words (what He taught of God’s love, forgiveness, salvation, and God’s kingdom, to His prophetic words of His death, resurrection, and eventual return).

This is all tied up in the first several verses found in John’s gospel, which is probably one of the most compact statements about Jesus, from his existence from all eternity, to His identity as being God, and then His relationship with both God and man.

Introduction

“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 nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:1-5 NKJV)

John begins his Gospel the same way the Genesis account begins in the Old Testament, “In the beginning.” (Genesis 1:1) But Jesus achieved what 4,000 years of law never could and never did, and that is humanity’s salvation, that is, bringing humanity back into a right relationship with God. You might say that after 4,000 years, Jesus reset history.

In our passage John says that “The Word,” which we will see is a name for Jesus, is fulfilling the plan God had in mind all along.

So powerful is the truth found in this name the Apostle John uses that he couldn’t help using it again in his first letter to the church.

“That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life—the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us.” (1 John 1:1-2 NKJV)

John is telling us that Jesus is the exact representation of who God the Father is, both in His actions and words.

The writer of Hebrews sums it up rather nicely saying that Jesus was the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person, Hebrews 1:3a.

Jesus didn’t mince words of this reality when Philip asked Jesus to show them the Father. He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:9b NKJV)

The Implication

John uses the Greek word ‘Logos’ or “The Word” to describe Jesus. But what does this name, “Logos,” or “The Word,” mean?

Merriam-Webster brings out two definitions

(1) “The divine wisdom manifest in the creation, government, and redemption of the world and often identified with the second person of the Trinity.”
(2) “As reason that in ancient Greek philosophy is the controlling principle in the universe.
(Merriam-webster.com/dictionary/Logos)

Therefore, the word John uses, “Logos,” resonates with both Jew and Gentile.

The Jewish thought concerning this word we see in the Scriptures.

The term is used referring to God’s healing and deliverance.

“He sent His word and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” (Psalm 107:20 NKJV)

The term was also used as the agent of creation.

“By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth.” (Psalm 33:6 NKJV)

The “word of the Lord” was God’s message to His people through the prophets.

“The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea,” (Hosea 1:2 KJV)

The Jews also saw it as the standard for holiness found in the law.

“Your word I have hidden in my heart, that I might not sin against You.” (Psalm 119:11 NKJV)

We could say that in the Jewish mind, “The Word” is the full and complete expression of God

But the word, “logos,” also had a history in Greek philosophy, which would have resonated with the Gentile believers. It was commonly used relating to reason and thought, and was thought as being the primary principle in shaping and directing the universe.

Either way, the name, term, or title, “The Word,” refers to the universe’s controlling agent, and there is really no other term that holds more meaning to both Jews and Greeks.

Jesus is “The Word”

Up to this point, if I already hadn’t mentioned that “The Word” is a name for Jesus, we sould have easily thought this term was some sort of concept or idea that has divine implications for humanity as it deals with the will of God towards His creation.

But John didn’t want us to place this sort of definition upon the name. John didn’t want any of his readers to wonder or to guess, so he makes it clear beyond supposition.

“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14 NKJV)

We see the same in John’s first letter when he said, “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life.” (1 John 1:1 NKJV)

As I mentioned earlier, it is from John’s opening statement that we see three aspects of Jesus being “The Word” as we look at His existence, identity, and relationship.

His Existence

When reviewing our passage in John’s gospel, what we see in verse one is that Jesus is none other than the Lord God who is eternal, in other words, there never was a time when Jesus was not, that is, there was never a time when Jesus did not exist.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (John 1:1 NKJV)

The key to Jesus’ eternal existence is found in the word, “was.” John begins where God began in the very first verse of Genesis where it says, “In the beginning God.” Here, John quotes the same verse, but inserts the title/name, “The Word,” for the word “God,” as well as inserting the word “was,” which in the Greek describes a continuous action.

To more accurately translate it would read, “In the beginning the Word continually was, and the Word was continually with God and the Word continually was God.”

What we could say is that Jesus was before creation began. Before there was any created matter, there was “The Word,” Jesus. The “beginning,” therefore, wasn’t the beginning of God; instead God was before the beginning.

From before the beginning, Jesus was continually there with God and therefore He continues to be God. There never was a time when Jesus wasn’t. Kent Hughes in his commentary on the John’s Gospel said, “Jesus always was wasing!” (Hughs, Kent R., “John – That You May Believe,” Crossway Books, Wheaton, Illinois, 1999, page 16)

His existence being eternal is seen in the classic prophecy of the coming Messiah, in that He would be from “everlasting.”

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting.” (Micah 5:2 NKJV)

Since He always has been, even before the beginning of time itself, and has continually been in the presence of God, Jesus, “The Word,” is God, which John ends up confirming saying, “And the Word was God,” which more literally reads, “God was the Word.”

Jesus confirmed His eternal existence saying,

“And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” (John 17:5 NKJV)

Or as the Apostle John continued to say in John 1:2 “He was in the beginning with God.”

And so Jesus was before anything ever existed, and while He lived for a short time here upon the earth, He isn’t nor has He ever been bound by time.

And so Jesus’ existence is eternal, and therefore Jesus, “The Word,” is God.

His Identity

The identity of “The Word,” is made clear in the end part of verse one where it says, “And the Word was God.”

We saw the same thing when we looked at the name Jesus used of Himself when He called Himself by God’s holy name, “I Am,” which is something the Jews also knew as they took up stones to put Him to death because He had uttered a blasphemous statement.

John goes on to solidify Jesus’ identity as God through two additional titles He gives.

1. Creator

“All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (John 1:3 NKJV)

John’s use of the phrase, “In the beginning,” is a conscious referral to the very first words in the Bible.

In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.”

Not only does this speak to Jesus’ existence, that is, from all eternity, but it also speaks to the idea that there never has been a time when creation didn’t depend upon Jesus for its existence. This is seen when John says, “All things were made through Him.” In other words, nothing has been created without Him, which also includes you and me.

Further, when John said, “without Him nothing was made that was made,” means nothing is outside of Jesus’ ability to create, but also, continues to create, which is made evident in that we who were once dead in our sin, Jesus has made into brand new creations through our belief and faith in Him, 2 Corinthians 5:17.

And so the title of Creator speaks to the deity of Jesus, as “The Word.”

Some of you might be thinking- “Wait a second, I thought God the Father was the creator”

While you are correct, the full answer is that it is all three members of the Godhead were involved in creation.

Between the Father and the Son we see the delineation in creation in what the Apostle Paul shared in his letter to the Colossian church.

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist.” (Colossians 1:15-17 NKJV)

Yet when Paul calls Jesus “the firstborn over all creation,” it has caused some to believe that Jesus is a created being, howbeit, the first, but still created, and therefore they conclude that Jesus wasn’t God.

But the term for “firstborn,” in the Greek is the word, “prototokos.” This word has nothing to do with time or space. It also doesn’t refer to being born, or the order of being born. Rather, it is a word that speaks to being of first importance, or preeminence.

We can see this when God called King David, “firstborn,” Psalm 89:27.

David wasn’t the firstborn of Jesse, he wasn’t even the second or third. He was dead last. He was the youngest, and wasn’t even well thought of in His own family, because when Samuel came over to anoint the next king of Israel, Jesse didn’t even bring him in from watching over the flocks. God, however, placed David in a position of prominence, or preeminence, making him king of Israel, and it is from is line or descendent that the Messiah would come.

Therefore Paul is saying that Jesus is preeminent over all creation, describing His power and authority over it

Jesus holds the universe and everything in it together, from the smallest particle to the entire universe. You might say that Jesus is the superglue. But even more, it is all being held together by and through the power of His word.

Of Jesus the writer of Hebrews said, “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power.” (Hebrews 1:1-3a NKJV)

This idea of being “the brightness of His glory,” leads me to the second title used by John revealing the deity of Jesus.

2. Light

The Apostle John makes it clear in his first letter that God is indeed light.

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5 NKJV)

And it was this truth that John portrayed Jesus as having in our text about “The Word.”

“This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.” (John 1:4-5 NKJV)

John goes on to say that this was the mission of John the Baptist, to declare that Jesus is the true light, John 1:6-9.

The only way that darkness increases is when light decreases. Darkness is basically the absence of light. You take away light, and what you have left is darkness. But when light is shining, darkness is dispelled.

The phrasing John uses is that the light of Jesus continually shines, and so when the darkness of sin invades, the light of Jesus continues to shine exposing it.

Jesus said, “I have come as a light into the world, that whoever believes in Me should not abide in darkness.” (John 12:46 NKJV)

And while there is so much more that can be brought out about Jesus as the light of God and light of the world, I’ll refer you to the teaching where we looked at Jesus as “The Bright and Morning Star.”

So far we’ve explored the deity of Jesus through His eternal existence and identity as creator and light. But John goes on and gives us one more aspect of Jesus being “The Word,” and that is His relationship with the Father and with humanity.

His Relationship

The one thing we learn when studying the Scripture is that God is a relational God. He wants and desires relationship, and He Himself lives in relationship with Himself. It is what we know as the doctrine of the Trinity.

While I am about ready to publish my first Doctrinal Cliffnotes, which is on the Trinity, let me sum this up saying while God is one, as clearly outlined and stated within the Bible, the Bible also makes it abundantly clear that God also eternally exists in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

God exists in relationship. We see this relationship within the Godhead in the creation of humanity.

“Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.’” (Genesis 1:26a NKJV)

From John’s account what we see is “The Word’s,” or Jesus’ relationship with both God and man.

1. With God

“The Word was with God.” (John 1:1b NKJV)

The word “with,” means “towards,” indicating that Jesus and the Father had a face-to-face relationship. Therefore what is see is a sense of intimacy.

Jesus is one with the Father and the Spirit. The Apostle John in his first letter made this observation.

“For there are three that bear witness in heaven: the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit; and these three are one.” (1 John 5:7 NKJV)

The word “with” in our passage then shows that Jesus was, and always has been, in a relationship with the Father before the beginning, before time even began.

2. With Humanity

Again going to John’s first letter look at what he said,

“That which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ.” (1 John 1:3 NKJV)

In our passage today we see that the purpose of His coming was to be the light of life to mankind, John 1:4, 9.

But this relationship is not as harmonious as Jesus’ relationship with the Father. We see just how contentious it is, but also how it can be turned into something special. What we see in verses 10 through 13 is how people either ignore Jesus, reject Him, or accept Him becoming children of God.

a. Ignored

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” (John 1:10 NKJV)

There was Jesus in the world and amongst the people He created and it was no big deal. So what if He came, it really doesn’t mean anything to them and to their situation.

Today the name of Jesus is now considered white noise, that is, people hear the name but it doesn’t make a dent in their consciousness. We can see this in how the name of Jesus isn’t used as a blessing, but now it’s used more as a curse or a term or name of disappointment.

b. Rejected

“He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:11 NKJV)

While this mainly points to the Jewish people it is in reality to everyone, in that we were all made in the image and likeness of God.

But why do we reject Him? May I suggest it’s because neither He nor His message fits into our expectations or into our desires.

This is brought out in force later on when Jesus said in John 3:19-20, “This is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone who is evil hates the light, and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.”

But there is one more choice open in this relationship, and that is the choice to accept His invitation.

c. Accepted

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” (John 1:12-13 NKJV)

This is the choice Jesus put before Nicodemus, a religious leader of that day saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3 NKJV)

And so to accept Jesus Christ, the Word of God, is to know that we have become children of God through the blood Jesus shed upon the cross.

Conclusion

So “The Word,” Jesus, is the source and means of creation, the giver of light and life, the means of God’s powerful activity fulfilling His purposes, and is the means that God used in bringing His life-giving message and truth to humanity.

John calls Jesus “The Word” because He was and is the message given to us by God. What God had to say to us is found in Jesus’ actions and words, or what Jesus said and did.

Will Jesus, The Word of God, the Son of God, the Lord God of creation and the light that brings life, be ignored, rejected, or accepted? This is the choice that everyone is going to have to make and no one is exempt from this choice.

Jesu said, “He who is not with Me is against Me.” (Matthew 12:30a NKJV)









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