Last year in LAMBS, we studied Exodus and were able to see how God spoke through Moses to deliver his word to his people. When Moses spoke, it was as if God himself was speaking. Throughout the rest of the Old Testament, God spoke through priests, judges, prophets, psalms, and others, but none shared his complete message or represented him fully. In the incarnation, God chose to speak in the clearest way possible: by his Son. Not through his Son, but by him. Jesus did not simply bring God’s word, He was God’s Word. Hebrews 1:1-3 says, “In the past God spoke to our ancestors 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” (NIV).
John chose to say it this way, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God…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 1:1-2, 14).
John’s goal was to convince his readers that Jesus is the Son of God and that by believing in him, they could have eternal life (John 20:31). He starts by laying down the foundation of Jesus’ identity, but he doesn’t start by saying, “Jesus was,” he starts with “the Word was…” Why does he say “the Word”?
A little context can help us understand the significance of John using “the Word” or logos. Logos is a Greek word that simply means “reason,” “word,” or “expression of a thought,” but the idea of logos had a deeper meaning to both the Jews and the Greeks who would read this gospel. Jewish rabbis often referred to God’s personal characteristics in terms of His word. They spoke of God Himself as “the word of God” (David Guzik). Multiple Greek philosophers, with whom people of those days would be familiar, used logos to refer to an “Ultimate Reason” or impersonal force that controlled all things. John intentionally used this familiar term as if to say to all of his readers, “Here is the true logos, the God of the Hebrews, and the ‘Ultimate Reason’ the philosophers have been seeking to understand.”
Who is the Word? He is Jesus. Here is what John tells us about him.
- The Word is pre-existent – “In the beginning was the Word.” Jesus didn’t start existing at his human conception. He was already, way back in the beginning and even before the beginning. Alluding to Genesis 1:1, it’s as if John is saying, “Jesus, the Word, was already there, in the beginning, creating the heavens and the earth” (see John 1:3).
- The Word is the second person of the Trinity – “was with God.” He is distinct in person from God the Father and the Holy Spirit.
- The Word is fully God – “the Word was God.” Colossians 1:15 and 1:19 says, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him.” James Montgomery Boice explains, “Everything that can be said about God the Father can be said about God the Son. In Jesus dwells all the wisdom, glory, power, love, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth of the Father. In Him, God the Father is known.”
- The Word was a man – “And the Word became flesh.” Jesus was the pre-existent Creator, God, who put on flesh and lowered himself to become one of us. As Jen Wilkin so beautifully says, “in his incarnation, the high and exalted became low and common.”
- The Word lived among people – “the Word…dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father.” In the Old Testament, we see the tabernacle where God dwelt in the midst of the Israelites camp. Like the tabernacle, Jesus “tented” his body in flesh and then he walked, talked, and minister among people. They were able to observe his life, death, and resurrection, and in doing so, they beheld his glory, the presence of God. The same Shekinah glory that filled the tabernacle of the Old Testament was now revealed to all people!
- The Word is full of grace and truth. Jesus is thoroughly permeated with grace and truth. He always gives undeserved kindness to sinners and reveals the truth of salvation to us. “For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (John 1:16-17). He offers to us the epitome of grace and truth in salvation. “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).
Praise God that we don’t have to wonder who God is because he showed us in Jesus! For if Jesus had never lived among men, died, and then overcome death, we would have no hope of salvation. Because of Jesus, the Word, we have received the grace and truth of salvation. Now it’s our turn to share this Word with others that they may behold his glory, believe in his name, and become children of God.