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. The meaning of Logos

THE MEANING OF LOGOS

 

John 1:1-6 (ESV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.


Introduction:


Today is a day of celebration and together we are going to braai. It is in part a celebration for Pastor Nicki with his wife Wendy at his side as he has now led Logos for 10 whole years starting April 2012. They both have just celebrated their 65th birthdays this month and want to share that with the congregation. But it is then also the 10th birthday of Logos Community Church. Some of our newcomers will be asking the question, why we are called Logos. Why is the name ‘Logos’ special to us and what does it mean?

 

Now we all know John 1:1 so well in the English that says, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word was God”. But many do not know that it says in the Greek language: “In the beginning was the Logos and the Logos was with God and the Logos was God.” Now it is no secret that the Logos referred to here is none other than Jesus Christ, because we know from verse 14 that “the Word (or Logos) became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”

 

These verses are the opening verses of this glorious gospel of John, but they form part of the greater purpose. Why did John write this gospel at all? John states his purpose of his gospel in John 20:30-31 (ESV) “30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. John is writing for a verdict, and he is writing for a victory. Through his writing, John is challenging us to have faith in the Logos, that we will believe in the Logos and that by believing we will have life in the Logos His name.

 

To believe in the Logos we must know who He is, and this is where John begins in the first 18 verses of the gospel of John which forms the prologue of the Gospel. In John 1 he begins by answering a question that men asked when Jesus was on the earth, and it is a question that is still echoing through the ages, who is this man Jesus, who is the Logos? Is Jesus only a man? If he is, you can afford to forget about him, you can ridicule Him, you can reject Him. Or is he God? Then He demands your belief and your total allegiance and your total commitment on His terms and not yours. What He says goes, and when He says ‘jump’ all you say is ‘how high?’ Let me give you some examples where people asked questions about Jesus.

 

Matthew 21:10 (ESV) 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?”

Luke 5:21 (ESV) 21 And the scribes and the Pharisees began to question, saying, “Who is this who speaks blasphemies? Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Luke 7:49 (ESV) 49 Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?”

Luke 9:9 (ESV) 9 Herod said, “John I beheaded, but who is this about whom I hear such things?” And he sought to see him.

John 12:34 (ESV) 34 So the crowd answered him, “We have heard from the Law that the Christ remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?” Sadly, the Jews are still crying at the Wailing Wall in Jerusalem on this day for the Messiah, because they have never figured out who this Son of Man is.

 

These questions are what John is answering in this prologue of the gospel of John from verses 1-18. Maybe some time we can get back and work through these 18 verses. Maybe we should do it before we get into a series on the End Times. Today however, I simply want to answer the question some have. What does “Logos” mean, and how does that impact us? My prayer is that all of us at the end of the sermon will be able to say with greater conviction with doubting Thomas: “My Lord and my God.” Because I believe that it is this answer that so often stands between us and greater commitment. So many people claim to be Christians, but they do not have an intimate relationship with the Christ of Christianity. The extent to which we have confidence and the extent to which we doubt this statement will be the thermometer of the extent of our love and faithfulness. No person can call him or herself a Christian and serve God on their terms.

 

I pray that you and I will discover the true identity of the Logos, or in other words, the true identity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that our love for Him will deepen.

 

Something we need to keep in mind is that John uses the simplest language available to man in this section. He doesn’t use big words, but through this simplest language he is describing the deepest doctrines that we can dig into. He uses simple words like light, darkness and life and puts them together in sentences that are not hard to understand. Yet the intentional simplicity is the majesty of these words, only the Holy Spirit can enable someone to deal with such deep doctrines in such a simple way and yet in such a careful way. John could have exegeted (expounded) these words and gone into the depth of their meaning, but this section is much like the disciple’s prayer that is contained in such a simple short section, yet it is impregnated with volumes of Biblical truth.

So, let’s start at the very beginning and for today we are going to look at the Logos in relation to its meaning and context.

 

In John 1:1 He calls Jesus the ‘Logos’ which is translated ‘Word’. Now as already stated He is obviously referring to the Lord Jesus because he tells us that the Word became flesh and dwelt among us in verse 14. The word Logos carries the meaning of ‘idea, saying, thought, reason’ or ‘expression.’  Words are what we use to express what we think. The Strong’s Concordance says concerning the word ‘Logos’ that it is “a word, uttered by a living voice, embodying a conception or idea”. We need to add, that words can be expressed in written form as well. You think of an idea, and you think of expression. You think of an idea, and you think of speech.

 

Now why would John use this word ‘Logos’ to speak of the Messiah? Why does he call Jesus the ‘Word’? This is by the way the only place where John does it. He does not do it in the Epistles or the book of Revelation; neither is this term used by any of the other disciples. It might be implied in 1st John and the book of Revelation where he talks about the testimony of Jesus. Why does he describe Jesus this way? I believe there is an intentional reason and an alternate reason.

 

1. Intentional reason.


Every one of the commentators on my shelf refers to the fact that in this statement there would have been an understanding for the Jewish People of that day as well as for the Greek speaking people.

 

The Greeks were familiar with Greek philosophy even 700 years prior to the birth of Christ when Heraclites taught that ‘reason’ or a ‘word’ controlled the events of history and creation.

 

But then regarding the Jews, John also borrowed the use of the term ‘Word’ from the vocabulary of the Old Testament which would impact the mind of Jewish thinking. His emphasis here is that creation reveals God, and that Christ is God’s agent in creation. Genesis 1:3 (ESV) 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light.” It is God’s word that brought the world into being. Throughout the first chapter every phase of creation starts with  'amar {aw-mar'} ~yhil{a/ (elohim) or as some manuscripts have it  {wayyömer ´élöhîm} or ‘Yahweh’ which means and God said. God simply speaks and His powerful word creates. So, from the beginning the Jews were very aware of the power of the Word of God.

 

Psalm 33:6 highlights this fact very clearly: 6 By the word of the Lord the heavens were made, and by the breath of his mouth all their host.”

God’s word is his powerful self expression in creation, wisdom, revelation and salvation, and the personification of that ‘Word’ makes it suitable for John to apply it as a title to God’s ultimate self-disclosure. And John made this refer to a person namely the Lord Jesus Christ. So, there is an intentional reason in context for referring to Jesus as the Logos, namely the ‘Logos’. The term ‘Logos’ therefore serves as a bridge word to reach not only the Jews but also to reach out to unsaved Greeks.

 

There is also an alternate reason for the term ‘Word’ with reference to Christ.

 

2. Alternate reason.


The word ‘Logos’ itself communicates something very powerful about the Lord Jesus. When Jesus Christ came to this earth, He made God known to us in a way that we otherwise could never have known God. He was the audible expression of God in all He said and did; in other words, He was the continuous visible expression of the invisible God. Think about that. You cannot see God but when you saw Jesus you saw the visible expression of the invisible God. If you were to explain God in one word, then you simply need to point to Jesus. John 1:18 (ESV)18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, He has made Him known.” The word ‘has made him known’ is the word from which we get our word ‘exegete’ exegeomai {ex-ayg-eh'-om-ahee}  which means to lead out, to unfold, to teach, to recount.

 

Who has exegeted the unseen God? Christ has as the living Logos explained God, and has revealed Him, He has made Him known. Another way to answer this question is to say that the only begotten God has done this or simply to say that God has exegeted God in the person of Himself in Jesus Christ. This is such a powerful statement. God the son who is God has made God the Father who is God known. The eternal Son has made the eternal Father known.

 

Look at John chapter 14:6-11 where Phillip has a question.  6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” 8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.” 9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. 11 Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.


If you have seen Jesus, you have seen the Father, if you know Jesus you know the Father. Jesus is the visible expression of the invisible God. That is why Paul can say that we have seen the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. Therefore, He is called the Logos or the Word. Jesus is the word. John therefore tells us that this man Jesus who was seen and heard and touched, this man is the one who explains God to us. This is an astounding claim, isn’t it? Look at John 6:41-42 (ESV) 41 So the Jews grumbled about him, because he said, “I am the bread that came down from heaven.” 42 They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?What they were saying is that we know you, we’ve seen you, we’ve touched you, we’ve heard you and you are just a man, how can you say that you came down from heaven. They did not really know Him, did they?

 

Now there are many reasons they did not know Him. They did not know Him because by nature they are children of Satan and in enmity with Christ. They love darkness rather than light. They did not see His glory because they are blinded by the god of this world and will only see the Glory of God in Christ when God has opened their eyes to see the glory of Christ. The real problem is that these guys viewed Jesus in the flesh and not the spirit.

 

There is a remarkable section in John 7:10-29 where this ignorance of the people regarding the origin of Christ plays out. They knew that Jesus was a good teacher, and they saw Him as just another good man. Jesus tells them in verse 16-17: “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. 17 If anyone’s will is to do God’s will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.”  Their problem was that they were judging by outward appearance. Jesus says to them in verse 24 Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.”. Now what flabbergasted the crowd was that Jesus was speaking so openly and yet the authorities said nothing to Him. Now listen to their question which is critical for today’s sermon. Verse 26” And here he is, speaking openly, and they say nothing to him! Can it be that the authorities really know that this is the Christ? 27 But we know where this man comes from, and when the Christ appears, no one will know where he comes from.” 28 So Jesus proclaimed, as he taught in the temple, “You know me, and you know where I come from? But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. 29 I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me.”


Jesus in effect is saying, you know from where I come from based on an earthly point of view, but you don’t know where I ultimately came from. You see the problem all of them had, Jesus was flesh, born of flesh, and how can you believe in Him. John says in John 1:14 that it is “the Logos who became flesh”, God became flesh and dwelt among us.  Jesus said that He came from God, God sent Him, and this is what John is claiming. Jesus therefore expressed the mind of God, the thoughts of God the plans of God, He was literally God’s utterance on earth unveiling that secret and hidden wisdom of God. What God thinks and speaks comes into being and in Christ we know what God thinks about holiness that is why Jesus revealed holy living, we know what God thinks about sin, that is why Jesus died for sin, because it all is an expression of the mind of God.

 

The thoughts of God are behind everything. Listen to Hebrews 1:1-2 where this is explained beautifully: Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV) “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.”


So, church family we need to understand that Jesus is the ‘Word’, He is the language of God, He is the visible expression of God, He is the one who exegetes God for us. God is the one who explained God, in the person of Jesus Christ and if this was not true, you would not see God at work throughout the gospel of John. But Christ the created being, and verse after verse will shout in conflict with such a view. So, there is an intentional reason but also an alternate reason behind the using of the term ‘Logos’ in context. The question today is, ‘do you believe in Christ, are you serving Him, and what is the extent of your commitment to Him’. What you do with Jesus and His cause is what you do with God. Now you know why we are called ‘Logos’. It is just a very short way to say that we belong to God. His Name and His son’s name are the banner over this church, He is head of the church, and we belong to Him. That is why our motto is: “to know God, and to make Him known.”

 

Amen.

Soli Deo Gloria

Logos Community Church: - 24 April 2022