Words. What are they ? Well, sounds if spoken; symbols if written down. But that is the form, not the substance. What are words for ? What do they do ? Why do we use them ? IN ESSENCE TO CONVEY IDEAS. Words are vehicles or mechanisms to convey an idea. It is the idea conveyed by a word which matters, and the word itself matters only in so far as it accurately conveys the meaning. Meaning.
Words convey meaning. They enable us to communicate one with another. We associate the sound or the symbol with a meaning. They convey meaning and they enable us to share that meaning together.
We therefore have an objectivity – we have something we agree on which enables us to communicate and relate.
So we have objective meaning, and we have relationship. Relationship arising from the common understanding we have about words.
When we don’t have common words, we have a breakdown in communication. If we don’t speak the same language of words, then we cannot understand each other – though we can revert to simple symbols ie gestures of hand and face to communicate a meaning we may still understand as human beings.
We are back to meaning, to communication, to objective truth which enables us to have relationship.
Which brings me to a fascinating assertion in an ancient document.
That assertion states:
In the beginning was the word and the word was with God, and the word was God.
The ancient document is the Gospel account of John the Evangelist and friend of Jesus. John wrote down his recollection of certain events and teachings of Jesus Christ, and he did so expressly to communicate to others what he knew about Jesus Christ.
So that we can understand too, those words recorded by John have been translated into many languages, including this one I am using now – my native tongue, English.
But interestingly some centuries ago there were powerful interests who opposed such translation into English. They were happy enough to have those words translated from the original Greek into Latin, but not from Latin into English or any other language which ordinary people could understand.
Those powerful interests were the ecclesiastics who ran the medieval Roman Catholic Church. Their power was such, and their hold was such, that they actually executed men who translated the documents of the Bible into English.
They saw direct communication between the Evangelist and the people as a threat to their power to dispense and to interpret the precious testimony about Jesus Christ. It was a power enshrined in an institution, an organisation with titles, and positions over others, with a structure and with wealth dedicated to maintain that structure and their power.
Paradoxically they did not want to the Evangelist to communicate with the people. They did not want their monopoly on the Christian religion to be broken or compromised.
They put themselves and their power above God and his words to us. They made their own SELF interest their God, and so set themselves against God’s simple but vital intention:
TO COMMUNICATE THE LIFE THE TEACHING THE MINISTRY THE DEATH THE RESURRECTION AND THE FUTURE RETURN OF JESUS CHRIST
But John the Evangelist says that Jesus Christ was THE WORD.
Not a word, but the Word.
He later writes that the word was made flesh and dwelt among us ……………… full of grace and truth.
So the meaning of God, the message of God, was not just an idea to be communicated to us, but a person. And that no ordinary person, but a person who was himself the very essence of God – a God defined here by John as being full of grace and truth.
Grace and Truth such wonderful ideas. Such wonderful concepts, such a wonderful meaning.
But more than a meaning, a concept, an idea as wonderfully meaningful as those two ideas are.
But the very living embodiment of grace and truth.
A message taking the form of a man, a living symbol which moved and made sounds which expressed the very nature of God, and which lived and acted out of that God nature, expressing God himself, and conveying that message in an unprecedented and unique way.
A living message. A living meaning. To communicate to us an objective truth not just conceptually but physically, in reality – a living objectivity beyond all reproach and doubt and denial.
A message incarnate – in the flesh – to enable relationship on the common ground of an objectively true and living meaning.
this is the first in a series on the Names of Christ in the Gospel of John