If I am honest, and I try to be, I would say that meditating on “the Word” (Logos) in John 1 as I prepared to write about it was quite the challenge. The challenge lies in how fast the waters become so deep surrounding this subject. You must dive into the idea of something so far beyond yourself; the idea of a triune God or, in other words, a being that is three persons in one. We are talking about a being that is harmoniously in fellowship as three separate identities and yet all one and the same at every moment. Is your head ready to explode yet?
Yet, this idea is exactly what John begins his gospel with when he writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
However, as deep as these waters go (and I assure you there is not bottom this side heaven), I did realize something that was very encouraging to me. I also remembered what C.S. Lewis wrote about tough passages in the Bible:
“But why are baffling passages left in at all? Oh, because God speaks not only for us little ones but for the great sages and mystics who experience what we can only read about, and to whom all the words have therefore different (richer) contents. Would not a revelation which contained nothing that you and I did not understand, be for that very reason rather suspect? To a child it would seem a contradiction to say both that his parents and God made him, yet we see how both can be true.”
So I will chip off my little piece of the block in this blog and hopefully encourage you in what I see here, and that is that as deep as this knowledge goes, John was also, through the Holy Spirit, helping us to see how close, real, intimate, and accessible this being had become.
The idea of Logos was a connection point to the Jews and the Greeks. The Greek work Logos translated means “Word” and means “something that communicates.” It was something of a principle to both people groups. As a common principle, it was a way for John to show that God had come near in a way they could grasp. That God, and all that He is, had reached out to us; become accessible in the most amazing way, to us.
Firstly, to the Jews, this use of Logos by John would connect them directly to their understanding of the Word of God. This is not to be confused with scripture, as that is a different Greek word. No, for the Jew this would be that sacred voice of God. It was the Word that spoke out of the burning bush to Moses. It was the Word that thundered at Sinai. It was the Word that whispered to Elijah on the mountain causing him to cover his face and flee.
The Logos, to the Jew, would be the holy and terrifying presence of God.
Secondly, for the Greek, this use of Logos would connect them directly to a popular philosophical belief. Greeks understood the Logos to be a principle higher than life and even the gods. To them the gods were just super humans that were flawed, but the Logos resided above the gods. It was the Logos that guided their philosophers. It was the Logos that brought principles to light in their world. It was the Logos that separated mortals from gods.
The Logos, for the Greek, was in fact the very thing that guided thought, reason and life for all mortals and even the gods.
So, as you can see, the moment that John starts talking about the Logos, he would have had a very captive audience. John gets their attention with this common understanding and then he drops the bombshell: this Logos has made an appearance among us.
What was terrifying to the Jews and a
mystery to the Greeks now strolled through
the marketplaces of man.
What is so amazing about what John is saying, when taken in this historical context, is that this Logos, which was so far removed from Jew and Greek alike, had now come among them in a physical form. What was terrifying to the Jews and a mystery to the Greeks now strolled through the marketplaces of man.
Sometimes the impact of certain scriptures can be lost on us because we have become so accustomed to them. For example, many of us have heard the accounts of Jesus (God in the flesh) for many years and are quite used to the idea. However, what would you feel like if you knew that God, and all that He is, was meeting you in person at Starbucks later today. What would you be thinking about if you knew you were literally sitting down with God over a cup of coffee in two hours?
I immediately think about the setting of Starbucks on 27th and Highway 20 with the beat up Arco right there and the traffic in and out of Safeway. My mind pictures the half-used Splenda packages and spilled creamer on the counter while the baristas bustle about. All this seems so small and normal for the creator of all things to be a part of, and yet He was. That’s exactly what John is saying here (among MANY other things): that God met us at Starbucks and spent time with us.
The funny part is, if we are honest, there is a little part of us that almost considers that sacrilegious. It’s too normal-sounding, too little, too common. But this is the incredible message that John is heralding.
What is so encouraging to me is that, yes, you could spend your entire life diving into the complexities surrounding this triune being, but in the end He didn’t call us to come understand Him. He called us to come be with Him.
What would you be thinking about if you
knew you were literally sitting down with
God over a cup of coffee in two hours?
This is the heart, I believe, of why John uses the idea of Logos here at the beginning of his gospel. It was at first to grab the attention of all and then to invite all to come meet that which they had always known.
The Logos made flesh is the incredible understanding that this God wants to be accessible to us. This God has gone to incredible lengths to make it so we can approach Him. We understand now through John that this God sat at sunset with them, rested with them, ate with them and walked through the marketplaces with them. He was at all points, approachable, attainable, normal, and yet every bit GOD.
Today let us understand that as complex as the idea of the trinity and Logos are, we can take comfort in the fact that John’s goal was to help us understand that HE, THE LOGOS, had come nearer to us, not moved farther away. Let us continue to press into as much theological depth as the Lord has given us understanding to do so. Yet, let us also remember that He met us at Starbucks.
“But to all who did receive Him, who
believed in His name, He gave the right
to become children of God.”John 1:12
By Aaron Callahan