“The true light that gives light to everyone was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God– children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John testified concerning him. He cried out, saying, “This is the one I spoke about when I said, ‘He who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.’ “) Out of his fullness we have all received grace in place of grace already given. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.” John 1:9-18 (NIV)
As I complete my fingernail-dragging slide into my 50s, I find myself using this now-common, desperate cry when I can’t get a thought out of my mind and onto my tongue.
“What’s the word?”
It drives me crazy! I can feel it there, taunting me – the word, I mean. I find myself speaking a relatively intelligent sentence and, mid-thought, can’t grasp the one word that pulls it together. My Merriam-Webster in my head has shut down, locked the doors, and hung the “closed” sign.
Frustrating. And from what I gather from those who have gone ahead of me, common to my age.
While we who are subject to aging move into this disconnect, we find in John 1 that God has no such limits; in fact, His Word transcends any bound between thought and speech.
“The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us” (John 1) Here, Word in verse 14 and at the beginning of the chapter is the Greek term, logos. At its core, logos refers to both what is in the mind (thoughts) as well as what is spoken and/or written down. It is mental and literal. It is unformed, lose in thought, while also heard and read in our three-dimensional world.
I don’t know about you, but I find this concept difficult to grasp in my linear, American way of thinking.
Just this morning, my son and I are traveling to visit a used bookstore that carries hundreds of thousands of volumes – everything from comics to college texts to mysteries and Christian self-help. A treasure trove. So much of “the word” that I can hardly contain my excitement. But even I admit this is a weak, secular understanding of the logos of John 1.
John uses logos in his description of Christ as a metaphor, a unique image to show us another way to view Christ’s coming into our world. According to 19th-century theologian, Marvin R. Vincent*, Christ is still in God and yet has been spoken to us. “He is therefore rightly called the Word, both by His coming from, and yet remaining still in, the Father.”
While I may facepalm in mid-sentence, crying out “What’s the word?”, God both retains His Word, Christ, with Him while also bringing Him out of Himself, “writing Him down” in a form we could grasp, read, watch and understand in our world. “…the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And then, the Word became flesh.
So “what’s the Word?” How does my new understanding of logos effect this Advent Season?
Perhaps it’s simply a reminder that this Grand Story of the incarnation of Jesus Christ is merely the tip of the iceberg; God pulled back the curtain, revealing an explosive assault of His Grand Kingdom Plan. Jesus Christ, as logos, is seated at the right hand of the Heavenly Father in the now, having lived as logos for us in our world, our dimension. His incarnation set into a place the chain of events that brought us to the true climax of the Word becoming flesh, the resurrection of Christ and our redemption as sons and daughters of God.
Celebrate His incarnation? I will, with full knowledge that our Logos was the Word in the mind of God – the Word that was with God from the beginning – and also was the Word that came forth to be written on humanity, clearly legible and easily understood.
The final mention of Christ as the Logos of God is in Revelation 19 when He returns as the rider who is called Faithful and True, the One who wears the robe dipped in blood. How does this expand your understanding of the incarnated Christ as the Word?
What practical way can you incorporate the concept of God’s Grand Story into your plans for Christmas celebration this year?