April 22, 2014
Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Be still and rest in the Lord: wait for Him and patiently lean yourself upon Him; fret not yourself because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who brings wicked devices to pass.”
Psalm 37: 7
Fret Not Thyself
“Far in the future
Lieth a fear,
Like a long, low mist of grey,
Gathering to fall in dreary rain;
Thus doth thy heart within thee complain;
And even now thou art afraid, for round thy dwelling
The flying winds are ever telling
Of the fear that lieth grey
Like a gloom of brooding mist upon the way.
But the Lord is always kind;
Be not blind,
Be not blind,
To the shining of His face,
To the comforts of His grace.
Hath He ever failed thee yet
Oh, fret not thyself, nor let
Thy heart be troubled,
Neither let it be afraid.”
In Toward Jerusalem
Today’s Study Text:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.”
John 1: 1, 2
“Behold The Man” – Part 2
“Jesus was God spelling Himself out in language humanity could understand.”
S. D. Gordon
What does it mean to me when I read these words, “In the beginning was the Word”?
How do I get to know “The Word”?
What does “The Word” reveal to me about God my Father?
“When Jesus Christ utters a word, He opens His mouth so wide that it embraces all heaven and earth, even though that word be but a whisper.”- Martin Luther
“If Jesus is the Son of God, His teachings are more than just good ideas from a wise teacher; they are divine insights on which I can confidently build my life.”
The Case for Christ
There is nothing I enjoy more than being able to hear the performance of Handel’s “Messiah” live in a large concert hall. At the beginning of this musical extravaganza, there is what can be called an “Overture,” an instrumental introduction to the beautiful musical rendition performed by soloists and chorus. Common in opera productions beginning in the 17th century and incorporated into the Romantic era of music by composers like Beethoven and Mendelssohn, overtures act as independent works that come before symphonic poem. Interestingly, we see the same technique incorporated into the book of John. Noted by contemporary Biblical scholars and pastors, we find that John 1: 1-18 is described as the “overture” to the entire book of John. Pastor James C. Howell, in his commentary on John 1: 1-18, uses the grandest words possible to explain the rhetoric chosen by the Apostle John to explain the phrase, “In the beginning was the Word”:
“The soaring symphony tries to express the inexpressible. God’s inner self, God’s loving heart, God’s eternal fellowship, spilling over and making a world, knowing full well that the world would miss the point, and be downright recalcitrant (stubbornly disobedient) in reply. But Love loves anyway.”
Then Pastor Howell continues to explain the way John begins his book about Jesus by pointing to the critical fact that words matter. As he shares, when you ask someone about the most beautiful and meaningful moments in their lives, they often turn thoughtful for a time and then as he explains, “they arrive at some truly beautiful moment when words that matter are spoken, ‘I love you. Will you marry me?’ ‘I forgive you!’ ‘I am immensely proud of you!’ ‘I just learned that I am pregnant!’ As he notes, “Life is birthed through words.”
Just think about your own life and the words which you have spoken or someone else has spoken to you. Which words glitter like gold in your memory bank? It is the fact that words are critical which makes the first few sentences in John 1 so vital as we “Behold The Man” – our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Let us then, for a few moments, look specifically at the first words the Apostle John uses in his book, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1: 1, K.J.V.). As author Craig S. Keener writes, in his tremendous commentary on the book of John, the apostle and disciple of Jesus, “has an important reason to open his Gospel with the phrase, ‘in the beginning.’ As most commentators observe, ‘beginning’ alludes to the beginning of creation, and the opening words of John’s prologue echo Genesis 1: 1. (John) refers here to the literal beginning of creation…the explicit reference to the world’s creation in Genesis 1: 3.” It is this essential element which the Apostle John underscores for his point is that from the initial start of eternity, forever and ever, the Word was present, the Word was with God. In fact, John tells us, “the Word was God.”
In his commentary on this Biblical passage, Professor Robert Redman explains, “The term ‘Word’, or logos, is a rich and nuanced word meaning mind or rationality, but also speech or communication.” He further expands on this thought by spelling out how John ‘deploys (the word ‘loges’)’. He states: “the logos of God is both substantial and dynamic. As mind or rationality, logos conveys the content of God’s thinking; as speech, it conveys action and realization. In Jesus, God speaks God’s mind.” I just love this thought for it helps someone like me, who is not some renowned scholar, to understand more clearly Jesus’ own words to His’ disciple Philip who asked a very honest-hearted question of Jesus, “Lord, show us the Father, that is all we ask; then we shall be satisfied.” In response, Jesus replied, “Have I been with all of you for so long a time, and do you not recognize and know me yet, Philip? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14: 8, 9, Amplified Bible).
Just like Philip, you and I may have, at times, been confused about what our Father was really like. Down through Old Testament history, it was obvious that God’s children frequently misunderstood the essence of “Who” God was. And so, in an act of inexpressible kindness, Jesus, the Word, came to earth to not only reveal by His actions but also by His words what His Father was like.
I’ve frequently, in my personal Bible study, turned to the “old-time” commentary penned by Matthew Henry. In his comments on John 1, Henry shares the story of the 16th century theologian and lawyer Francis Junius who gave an account of his own life. We might today refer to his words as a personal testimony for he claimed that his thoughts on spiritual matters were “infected with loose notions.” But by God’s grace, he was “wonderfully recovered by reading, accidently, the verses in John 1: 1-5 from a Bible which he shares, “my father had designedly laid in my way.” He goes on to tell that he ‘observed such a ‘divinity’ in the argument, such an authority and majesty in the style, that (my) flesh trembled, and (I) was struck with such amazement that for a whole day (I) scarcely knew where (I) was or what (I) did; and thence (I) date the beginning of (my) being religious.”
In the Greek, there is a word called “homoousios” which means “made of the same stuff.” I understand this word for on more than one occasion in my short life, my dad said to me, “Dorothy-girl, you and I are cut out of the same piece of cloth.” This statement was reinforced on my mind a few weeks ago when a dear friend of my parents came up to me and said, “When you were talking today, all I could see was your dad. You reflect him so much.” As Jesus told His closest earthly friends, “If you know Me - You will know what my Father is like.”
“In the beginning, was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning.” In the words of Aaron Klink “This text reminds us that, amid life’s chaos, the world belongs to God…that Christ always was, as if to reveal that God’s love and intention for humanity was not simply the result of human sin, but part of God’s intention and love for the world from the start…In the beginning are not our wishes, hopes, dreams and plans, but God, and God’s Word, and God’s love toward the world.” As Professor Stephen Cooper reminds us, “the Word is not simply a medium of God’s revelation considered as knowledge about God; for what the Word reveals, it transmits: God’s love for humanity.”
For those times in your life when God may seem far away and your huge problems appear to overwhelm you, how thankful we can all be for the “Word” that was from the beginning…for the “Word” that brought God to earth, not only in the spoken word but in active action. And today, for every challenge you face, the “Word” is dwelling with us. In the words of poet, author and professor Thomas H. Troeger, “you will spell the Word anew in every time and place.”
“How do you spell the Word?
Where do you search and look –
Amidst the coos and cries you’ve heard
or in a well-thumbed book?
Hold back the swift reply,
the pious, worn cliché
that softens how the child will die
when violence has its way.
Instead, let all you do
embody truth and grace
and you will spell the Word anew
in every time and place.”
Thomas H. Troeger
Jesus The Very Thought of Thee
“Jesus, the very thought of Thee
With sweetness fills my breast;
But sweeter far Thy face to see,
And in Thy presence rest.
No voice can sing, no heart can frame,
Nor can the memory find,
A sweeter sound than Thy blest name,
O Saviour of mankind!
But what to those who find? Ah, this
Nor tongue nor pen can show;
The love of Jesus, what it is,
None but His loved ones know.
Jesus, our only joy be Thou,
As Thou our prize wilt be;
In Thee be all our glory now,
And through eternity.”
11th Century Latin Hymn,
usually credited to Bernard of Clairvaux
Translated Edward Caswall,
“You Jesus Christ are the Word of God humanified, and You are humanity deified.”
Nichols of Cusa
(1401 – 1464)
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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