Hi, I am Mohembo. I found RZIM not long ago, and this particular series of studies just today. (I’m rather slow!) I love John’s Gospel. The other Gospels provide narratives of Jesus life, his teachings and the mriaculous evidence that backs up his teaching. But it is John that inserts all kinds of explanations and insights into Jesus life and teaching.
On “the Word” - logos: this has always been presented to me as the Word - in the sense of Jesus being an instrument of communication - showing us the Father, revealing God in terms we can readily relate to. In this sense, I like to think of Jesus as God’s “body language.” Today we can take courses on how to interpret body language, with the particular aim of authenticating a person’s words. We are told that the body does not lie, so watch the body to tell whether what the person says is true or deceptive. We should watch body language to see the genuine character of a person - does s/he do something genuinely, or under duress, because s/he enjoys doing it and believes in what s/he’s doing, or doing it to please, to get attention, to get approval and approbation? As God’s body language Jesus “did all things well.” His language and teaching was mirrored directly in his actions and behaviour. He never required of his disciples something he had not done himself, or showed himself willing to do - including things that were greatly painful to himself.
But I have also always been puzzled by why we don’t make the connection between logos and the other English words that derive from it, especially logic meaning purpose, explanatory process, reason and reasoning. Perhaps, if I’m way off in left field, someone can tell me why this interpretation is not valid.
Jesus not only shows us the purpose and thinking (reasoning) of God, he is/was the reasoning of God. Paul writes in Colossians 1:15-17 (NIV)
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Mankind was created in the image of God. What specifically is that? Well, in the passage above, it says “The Son is the image of the invisible God” and we are told elsewhere that “we shall be like him.” He is our purpose, He is our Goal, His is the true meaning of “the image of God” for us. So just as Jesus is the “reasoning, the idea,” of God in physical human for, He is the one that gives us purpose, meaning, and a goal for life and living. In Jesus God shows us His macro and micro purposes (for the world and for the individual), purposes of wholeness, reconciliaton and unity, and much more.
The Word was characterised by two features: truth and grace. My experience through life has been that Christians are (or think they are) unbending in matters of truth. But there is precious little grace among us. We are very ready to “go to battle” over the smallest matters of “truth” (meaning our own interpretation thereof) and in doing so do great damage to the demonstration of God’s love, forbearance, and grace as purposes in our lives… We don’t understand the practical outworkings of genuine grace. This is without doubt one of my own greatest short-comings.
Yet John demonstrated both: the spoke truth, he lived truth, and he was gracious “No I am not he that should come. He is greater than me, so much greater in fact that I don’t deserve the privilege of loosening his sandals. … I must decrease, he must increase.” And when Jesus asked him to baptise him, he at first said “no Lord, you have nothing to repent of, you have no need of baptism” yet when the Lord said he wanted it anyway, John graciously accepted his request and became witness to the voice of God and the coming of the Holy Spirit. Incidentally, John apparently baptised Roman soldiers, so he did not restrict his preaching to Jews only - another display of grace. In living and behaving thus, he was preparing the way of the Lord, reminding people of the need for forgiveness of sins, regardless of race or creed, and calling on them to live lives consistent with that forgiveness.
The Jews formally reject Christ as King, when they shouted to Pilate “We have no king but Caesar!” and objected to Pilates formulation of the heading over the crucified Jesus “The king of the Jews.” But the formal rejection and crucifixion of Jesus by the Jewish authorities, led to a demonstration by the dying Jesus, of such amazing self-control that the hardened Centurion could say “Surely this was the son of God!” (Greater is he that ruleth himself, than he that taketh a city.)
The “right to be called the children of God.” In a day in which “Human rights” of many kinds are touted loud and often, I believe that the right to be called the children of God is the only right in the scriptures that the followers of Jesus are given. Of course, because of that right, we have many other things - but they are subsumed in this amazing fact.
What a fantastic opening to this book! Wow, what to expect of the rest of it…!?!