To understand the words of our Lord is the business of life. For it is the main road to the understanding of The Word himself. And to receive him is to receive the Father, and so to have Life in ourselves. And Life, the higher, the deeper, the simpler, the original, is the business of life.
The Word is that by which we live, namely, Jesus himself; and his words represent, in part, in shadow, in suggestion, himself. Any utterance worthy of being called a truth, is human food; how much more The Word, presenting no abstract laws of our being, but the vital relation of soul and body, heart and will, strength and rejoicing, beauty and light, to Him who first gave birth to them all! The Son came forth to be, before our eyes and in our hearts, that which he had made us for, that we might behold the truth in him, and cry out for the loving God, who, in the highest sense of all is The Truth, not as understood, but as understanding, living, and being, doing and creating the truth.
The Word of Life
by Stephen Carney
,MacDonald begins his sermon, The Heart with the Treasure with first bringing us to understand that greatest of all treasures, Jesus Christ, the “Word that became flesh to dwell among us.” Jesus was the Word that created all things and who is the Light that was the light of all mankind. This all sounds mysterious, like vague talk, but it is actually rooted in the truth of the nature of Christ himself.
The “Word” that John the Apostle uses to describe Jesus is an ancient Greek word that was invented around 500 B.C. by a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus. It is the word “logos,” and it literally means to “clothe our thoughts.” Whenever you think a thought or have an idea, no one can see that idea until you clothe it with words. Your idea or thought remains invisible to those around you until your mind takes the thought and sends it to your vocal chords, allowing the words to flow from your lips so that others may see what you are thinking.
The Hebrews had the idea that when you spoke you created something, and that you brought into existence what had not existed before you spoke. For example, if you love someone, you might carry that around in your heart, never daring to speak it out loud, but one day it slips out of your mouth and are heard by the one you love. All of a sudden, you have created something that hadn't existed before! It might be that you have just created an awkward situation and changed or ruined a wonderful friendship, but you might have just started a romance that will lead to marriage and children.
Words have the power to heal or to kill, to make or destroy, to lift the spirits or bring break a heart, but they are all the clothing of our thoughts, and we create these effects by dressing our thoughts and parading them out there for all to see and hear. This is the idea behind logos. I had a professor who believed that God waited until this word was invented before sending Jesus into the world. Whether or not that is true, it is certain that no word more perfectly describes Jesus as the Word than Logos.
Jesus was the Word that “was in the beginning with God and was God...and the Word became flesh.” Jesus was the clothing of the thought of God. The Word was there when God said, “Let there be light,” and when the heavens were framed. It was there when he said, “Let us make man in our image.” It was there when the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary, and in her womb the incarnate Son took shape, and “we beheld his glory as the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
There is a deeper understanding of this idea of Logos in applying it to Jesus, an understanding that Christ himself hints at. In John's Gospel, Jesus is dealing with “those Jews who had believed him” when he makes this curious statement in chapter 8 verse 43: “Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word.” They were listening to what Jesus was saying, that is, his speaking, but they couldn't hear His word (logos). Two different words here are used to describe the difference between speech and what Jesus actually means. The logos is the truth that lies behind the spoken words--what God really means, the true representation of his thoughts.
Many people hear words and interpret them to their own paradigm, and come up with their own version of what has been said. Often, as a pastor, someone after the service will come up to me and say, “You must have meant this when you said.....” To which I reply, “I must have, because I don't remember saying that at all.” Sometimes we miss the whole point altogether, as we incorporate what we are hearing into our own dramas and internal scripts. We must burst out of this if we are ever to hear God speak, and to understand what he means when he calls us to do some deed on his behalf. We cannot just hear words or even read the Scriptures and always know what he means, we must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. For Jesus said, “When the Spirit of truth comes He will speak of Me” and again, “He who has My commandments and keeps them is the one who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will disclose Myself to him.”
Two rules apply, and the first can be found in what the ancients called Lectio Divina, which is the divine reading of Holy Scripture. They would pray for divine guidance in the reading of a passage of Scripture, and ask God to reveal His will to them. They would read the same passage three times asking for this guidance, and wait for God to reveal himself. Spiritual guidance cannot be over-estimated. God has said, “If you seek Me you will find Me, if you seek Me with all your heart.”
Secondly--and this is the principal that MacDonald stresses consistently in his books--is the rule of obedience; again, as Jesus said, “If you keep my commandments you will know whether the teaching is of God or if I speak of myself.” These two principles take us to “Logos,” the divine understanding of what lies at the heart of God, to his thoughts and original meaning. All this brings us back to Christ himself, who is the very Word.
In the end, all truth is the revelation of God, for truth isn't an idea or a clever saying, it is the personage of the God who lies at the heart of the universe. When all truths are finally revealed, we will see the face of God greeting us. I remember hearing one scientist say, and I quote this from memory, “The first drink of science breeds atheism, but when you reach the bottom of the cup, you see the face of God.” All revealed truth leads us home to our Father. As MacDonald says, “The Son came forth to be, before our eyes and in our hearts, that which he had made us for, that we might behold the truth in him, and cry out for the loving God, who, in the highest sense of is The Truth, not as understood, but as understanding, living, and being, doing and creating the truth.”