Many people today, even so-called religious leaders, consider Jesus as merely a great man. A social reformer. A cynical philosopher. A champion of human rights. A critic of organized religion. Or just a marginal Jew with delusions of grandeur with a Messianic complex.
The late Robert Funk was an American Bible scholar and founder of the controversial Jesus Seminar which was popularized by Polebridge Press. Funk’s view of the gospel accounts regarding Jesus’ life was regarded as mere fiction. He wrote, “Matthew, Mark, Luke and John ‘marketed the Messiah’ to make him conform to Christian doctrine that evolved after the death of Jesus.”
Others have advocated similar notions. John A. T. Robertson, whose book Honest to God belies its title wrote, “The New Testament says that Jesus was the Word of God. It says that God was in Christ, it says that Jesus is the Son of God, but it does not say that Jesus was God simply like that.”
Funk, Robertson and others of their ilk are wrong. In one the great verses of the Bible, John 1:1, the Deity of Jesus is confidently and succinctly affirmed.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The Greek word is “Logos,” a very nuanced and profound word. Greek scholars say Logos “embodies a conception or idea…an oracle or utterance which God discloses…a thought, or declaration…what is communicated by instruction…or uttered by the living voice.”
“Logos” was very familiar to the Jews since it frequently occurred in the Septuagint version. The verb communicated the repeated expression “God said” in Genesis 1. They used Logos to describe God’s divine action in creation, as well as His verbal communication with mankind. Logos was the dynamic power of Jehovah.
To the Greeks, “Logos” embodied a great philosophical thought. Heraclitus said it was “the unifying principle of cosmic law by which all things happen.” The Stoics called it “the great creative force.” Logos is the reason why we have a cosmos instead of chaos!
Over time “Logos” took on a new meaning to suggest that which mediated between God and creation and it set the stage for John’s usage in his Gospel.
JESUS IS “THE WORD”
Lest there be any misunderstanding, John says that “the Word” is Jesus. ” 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.” (Jn 1:14)
Our verse affirms three fundamental facts about “the Word.”
(1) The Word existed in the very beginning. What happened in the beginning? Creation. “God created the heaven and the earth” (Gen 1:1). He existed in the beginning, NOT because he had a beginning as a created being, but because He is eternal.
Indeed, “All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.” (Jn. 1:3). When Jehovah said in Gen 1:26, “Let us make man in our image,” he was speaking to the WORD, the co-creator.
(2) The Word was with God. There was an intimacy with God and the Word. A relationship. A connection. A closeness. He was there. He was a part of God’s redemptive plan before the foundation of the world.
(3) The Word was God. The word “God” is “theos” and means Deity. Jesus was divine! Jesus was Deity! Jesus was God! Barclay says the Greek grammatical construction is more like an adjective describing the character, qualities and personality of “The Word. He imbibed the essence and nature of Godhood.
We are not left to wonder who Jesus was. What His mission was about. Why He came to earth. Or how we should respond to Him.
Behold the Word. See His glory. Discover His Truth. Receive His grace.
–Ken Weliever, The Preacherman