I’m reading a novel by a Japanese author about a young man who works for a company that is writing a new dictionary. The characters in the book spend a lot of time thinking and talking about words and what they mean. It sounds boring, I know, but I’m two (very long) chapters in, and I’m hooked.
In fact, I went to sleep last night trying to define the word “word”. Think about it for a minute. If someone asked you what the word “word” meant, what would you say to fully convey what its meaning? It’s harder than it seems, isn’t it? Here’s what I came up with before my brain told me it was tired and wanted to go to sleep (which was a refreshing exchange of roles for us):
- In written form, a word is a collection of letters, which, in a particular order, convey a specific meaning.
- In verbal/aural form, it’s a collection of sounds, which, in a particular order, convey a specific meaning.
- In Sign Language, it’s a particular sequence of hand movements…
But then, there’s the various meanings of “word”, especially in the context of idioms. “Would you say a word about what you’re working on?” “I give you my word.”
Which got me thinking about John 1: “In the beginning was the Word…And the Word became flesh…” What does John mean, “The Word was with God and the Word was God”?
Since Jesus was not created, he can’t mean “word” the way we think of it in a literal sense the way we can with say, the Sun. Genesis 1:14-18 tells that God spoke the Sun into being: “Then God said, ‘Let there be lights in the expanse of the sky to separate the day from the night…They will be lights in the expanse of the sky to provide light on the earth’. And it was so.” God said the word, and the Sun came into existence. But God didn’t speak Jesus into existence – Jesus has always existed because He is God.
In saying that Jesus is the Word, John says that Jesus, in the flesh, was the fulfillment of the promise God made all the way back in Genesis 3 when He said to Satan, “I will put hostility between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring. He will strike your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). Jesus was the fulfillment of the promise God made to Abraham when He said, “All nations of the earth will be blessed by your offspring” (Genesis 22:18).
Paul rephrases what John is saying this way: “For every one of God’s promises is ‘yes’ in [Jesus]…” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
What’s interesting about what Paul says is the context in which he says it. The Corinthian church was upset with him because he had told them he wanted to come to visit them in person, but circumstances beyond his control prevented him from coming. In this passage, he is defending himself by telling them that he didn’t make his promise to come see them lightly. He really wanted to come, but something prevented him from making the trip.
He then takes the opportunity to teach them some good doctrine: God always keeps His word. Nothing ever prevents God from doing what He says He will do. And the ultimate proof of God’s faithfulness is Jesus Himself. Jesus is the Word of God, the promise of God fulfilled in flesh and blood. Jesus is God at His word. Jesus is the proof that whatever God has said will happen will, in fact, happen.
Jesus is all the proof we need that God is unfailingly faithful. We don’t need to see a butterfly on Tuesday to prove God exists. We don’t need to read the perfect verse on Friday morning to know that God sees what’s going on in our lives and that He’s working everything out for our good. We don’t need to hear that one song on the way to church on Sunday to know that He has a plan for our future.
The only proof we need of God’s love, care, provision, and faithfulness is the proof He gave in Christ. The manger, the cross, the empty tomb, the tongues of flame, His Word in the Bible – these are the proof that we can take God at His word, regardless of which definition we use.
What does it mean to you that Jesus is the Word of God?