Last Sunday in our morning worship service we recognized the Jewish feast of Simchat Torah. This holiday is a celebration of the Word of God. It takes place on the last day of the feast of Tabernacles , which we were talking about a couple weeks ago. Jesus recognized this John 7 where we read – “Now on the last day, the great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, “if any man is thirsty, let him come to me and drink”, (v.37 NASB). This was the last day of the feast of Tabernacles and there is a special recognition on this day of the Word of God. Simchat= rejoicing and Torah= law, so this holiday is the idea of rejoicing in the law. We considered the significance of this special day by looking at a passage from Psalm 119. Psalm 119 is the longest Psalm and chapter in all the Scriptures. Most significantly the entire Psalm is about the Word of God. Psalm 119 is in acrostic Psalm with eight versus for each of the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet. That’s 176 verses about the Word of God. We talked about the Old Testament as God’s written Word as it is illustrated in this particular Psalm. But most of our consideration centered around the living Word, the Lord Jesus Christ. We read in John 1 where John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the father, full of grace and truth”, (v.1,14 NASB). In verse one of this passage we see when the Word was – “in the beginning”, where the Word was – “with the God” and what the Word was – “the Word was God”. This passage is a very clear declaration of the deity of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Logos” the Greek word interpreted as word implies more than our English word “word”. “Logos” implies the intelligence behind the idea itself or the expression of the idea. That which is revealed in Jesus Christ is God. So it is not a stretch to say that John’s prologue is profoundly theological. In the Greek culture “logos” was one of the purest and most generally understood concepts of ultimate intelligence and certainly John stood understood the meaning of “logos” in its cultural context.
But John doesn’t stop with the concept of the Word being deity he continues to go on and demonstrate that the Word took on humanity in the person and work of Jesus Christ. “The Word became flesh” helps us understand the humanity of the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ as the Word could not be seen but by adding human nature to what was divine He came to fully reveal and disclose God to us. Jesus didn’t cease to be what He had been before His incarnation but he added human nature to His existence. Jesus’s appearance changes God’s relationship to mankind because God expressed Himself in human personality which was visible, audible, tangible and one of the greatest mysteries known to humanity. How is it possible that divinity should take on flesh? John tells us that he “dwelt among us”. The idea of dwelling among us is the idea of Jesus pitching His tent with humanity. In the Old Testament the tabernacle was inhabited by the Shekinah glory cloud. But in the New Testament Jesus Christ is the seat of God’s divine presence. He represented God’s presence amongst his people. God pitched his tent among us so to speak, not for an angel’s visit but adopting the human race for His own family. He came not as a king but into the context and culture of a poor and broken world. Jesus pitched his tent amongst us and was tempted, thirsty, hungry, tired, He wept, He felt pain, He marveled and suffered and died among us. And then John talks about the fact that he and the other apostles had “beheld” Jesus’s glory. The word “beheld” speaks more of just a casual glance. The “we” speaks of the apostles who had occasion to gaze closely upon the Lord Jesus Christ and to give careful attention to all that He said and did. John is saying that the Lord Jesus was no mere appearance or phantom or a vision of their imagination. He elaborates on this in his first epistle when he writes – “What was from the beginning, what we have beheld, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of life”, (1John 1;1 NASB). The glory they beheld of the Lord Jesus Christ was demonstrated in two unique areas. The first area is in the area of grace. Grace is more than “God’s unmerited favor”, it is the idea of gracious favor or benefit bestowed on us where justice was deserved. The Gospels teach that grace is God’s attitude towards us, that it is one of acceptance and love. Grace is a proclamation, it is a dramatic statement about the human condition. The keynote of the incarnation is God’s grace being bestowed upon us. Grace should be a way of life in the Christian realm as we rely totally on the Lord Jesus Christ to work in and through us.
The second dimension of God’s glory as seen in Christ is that he is the agent of God’s truth. This idea of truth is the idea of reality. God’s reality can be experienced through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. When we see the grace and truth of God revealed in Jesus Christ it strips away all of our allusions and pride. Grace leads us by hand into the everlasting truth of our need for the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus revealed the Father’s will and way most fully. This concept of biblical truth is so important in this age of relativism where anything goes and everything is accepted. But reality about life can never be experienced until we fully grasp God’s grace and truth as they are revealed in the Lord Jesus Christ. We as Christians have great reason to rejoice in the Word of God. The New Testament is built on the foundational truth of the Old Testament which points us to a personal relationship with God through His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. We will be looking in the future for ways to celebrate the goodness and richness of the Word of God, both the written and the living Word of God. Let us follow the instruction of the psalmists who said, “your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path”, (Ps.119:105) and let us“hide God’s word in our hearts that we might not sin against Him”,(Ps.119:11).
Pastor Rich Sivo