The Four Faces of Jesus: Logos (Part 14) (6-18-17)

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)

A basic principle that is of high value for any public speaker is to always observe and analyze the audience. This good habit makes an astounding difference in the speaker’s ability of convincing his audience to accept or reject his idea. Although this logic may seem simple to always remember when giving a presentation, it is often ignored by many experienced orators, provoking a chaos of confusion. This fundamental principle is especially important for those seeking to teach a new idea. To find a common link that can be understood by all within a diversified audience is, arguably, the most daunting task for any teacher. Hence the predicament the apostle John was faced with as he prepared his Gospel account. Biblical scholars agree that John penned his literary work in the Greek city of Ephesus, toward the end of the first century. This is significant because it begins to shed light upon the motive behind John’s profound prelude to the Master’s story. Understanding the time and location where history suggests the inspired apostle wrote his book is synonymous to observing and analyzing the audience for whom he wrote. This is the wise and logical approach if we are to deepen our understanding of the Holy Spirit’s inspired influenced upon the beloved apostle. In a previous exposition of this series, we were made aware of the overwhelming growth of Christianity among the Gentiles (with a Hellenistic background) in the final years of the first century. Historical archives record that by A.D. 60, the Gospel of Christ had reached Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome. Although Christianity was born from Judaism (Jesus was Jew by birth) in the city of Jerusalem, within an approximate 30 years of the Master’s death, the good news had already reached the predominately Greek regions. The difficulty of this was that Jewish teachings were alien to the Greek mind. Particularly, they were unaware of what a Messiah was and had never heard this term. Irrefutably, this proves to be true since the Jews vehemently believed that the coming of the Messiah was exclusively for them as God’s chosen people. Therefore, only those of Jewish descent or those who were in a near proximity of them understood the importance that this Messiah had for a Jew. Due to the Greek’s lack of knowledge concerning this subject, it would have been futile to seek to establish that Jesus of Nazareth was the foretold Messiah. Presenting Him in this way would have escaped the understanding of those Gentiles living far away from Palestine. Undoubtedly, this confirmation served to convince Jewish Christians, but was meaningless for the Greek Christian. Additionally, the rising threat of Gnostic heresy within the church sought to mislead the Greek Christian’s understanding of who Jesus was in relation to God. One specific doctrine that was, and is, extremely dangerous is that God did not create the world Himself. They reached this erroneous logic because God being spirit and pure could not touch matter which is evil. For this reason, they falsely claimed that the world was created by a group of “emanations” that God sent until one was far enough away to come in contact with matter. However, they argued, that the further these “emanations” got from God, the less they knew about Him and this led to their hostility toward Him. This whimsical theory led many heretic Gnostics to believe that Jesus was not God, but instead one of these “emanations” rejecting His Divinity. Without a doubt, these two troubles to Christianity presented a challenging enigma that required an astute mind to solve it. To present Christianity (born from Judaism) to the Greek world that was unaware of Jewish teachings, and to eradicate the Gnostic philosophy concerning Christ required a solution that could engulf all without controversy. Remarkably, John discovered the answer that was applicable to the dual worlds of Jews and Greeks. Being a Jewish Christian who had lived several years in Greek Ephesus, John found the common link between both cultures to be their thought concerning Logos. It was no secret to the inspired apostle that both Jews and Greeks believed that words were filled with Divine power. Scholars suggest that this was the reason the Hebrew language has fewer than 10,000 words and the Greek language more than 200,000 words. In the Hebrew interpretation of Logos (dabar in Hebrew) it was believed to be a powerful and effective mean for God’s will to be done. The prophet Isaiah states, “so shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth; it shall not return to Me void, but it shall accomplish what I please, and it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it” (Isaiah 55:11). It was “by the word of the Lord [that] the heavens were made, and all the host of them by the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6). Undoubtedly, for the Hebrew mind the term logos represented God’s creative power manifested by Wisdom (Proverbs 8:22-31). Curiously, logos to the Greek represented the universal reason. This philosophy began to be promoted by an Ephesian philosopher named Heraclitus, approximately in 560 B.C. He concluded that the Logos was the primary reason the universe existed and was in order. For him, the Logos was in control of the world and the humans inhabiting it. In other words, all of this was possible due to the mind of God. Therefore, for the Hebrew it was Jehovah’s Divine Wisdom and for the Greek it was the Reason behind the universe. For John, however, Logos was Jesus revealing the mind of God in human form. It is the reason why he imitates Moses’ words “In the beginning” (Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1). John had no doubt in his mind that God “has in these last days spoken to us by His Son” or that “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Hebrews 1:2 and Colossians 2:9). Although both cultures shared their views of the power of logos, neither one had ever thought that God could become flesh. It was the beloved apostle who destroyed the false ideology of Gnosticism by proving that the Word of God was manifested in Jesus of Nazareth. His eternity (John 1:2), wisdom (1:3), and ability to give life and light (1:4) revealed to John that Jesus was unquestionably the Son of God. That through Him, the Father truly revealed Himself to His creation (John 14:7-11). To be continued…

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