The Word, the logos

From ancient time, man has pondered the inexplicable organizing influence at work in the cosmos. Greek philosophers gave it a name; they called it the logos.  Originally logos meant “word”, “speech,” “reason;” but it was gradually extended to refer to the underlying “order” or “reason” governing the orderly universe.  [1], [2]

Last week, Julie described the transformation that took place in her relationship with God as she became aware of the ordering of events that supported the messages coming together for her in sermons, in quiet times in Scripture, and in “random” conversations … how these messages spoke directly to what she was wrestling with, or was wanting to understand at that moment . . . always targeting her place of need . . . giving her insight into how God was working in her life,  and how He was guiding her to respond.

In 500 B.C., Greek philosophers would have readily recognized this as the logos.

But it would not be until the 1st century A.D., in Palestine,  that the concept of the logos would find its place in Scripture, nailing down what no civilization had yet to see.

 

* * *

A man named John arrived on the scene, and he witnessed something that took his breath away.  He was a Jew born in Israel, under Roman rule, conversant in Greek thinking and language. Like many Jews in the 1st century, John was living in heightened anticipation of the promised Messiah. Then, over a brief span of roughly three years, John became an intimate companion in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus of Nazareth.

John was astounded by the inexplicable orchestration of prophetic “words,” spoken hundreds of years in the past, unfolding in the events of his day . . . as if the “words” were materializing, putting on flesh, rising out of the raw ingredients of men’s free will. He recognized something unseen streaming through the seen, an underlying “order” as the prophetic “word” moved through events to realize itself.

But even more, John’s intimate contact with Jesus enabled him to see what no man had seen before:

this streaming, unseen influence

ordering time and events–was a Person

 

Up until John the ancient world had observed and verified the existence of this organizing influence, but it was largely viewed as impersonal divine principle.

John would be the first to declare that this ordering force was the eternal mind of a Person.  As he witnessed the ordering influence of the cosmos coalescing in Jesus — he was convinced that this was The One the Hebrew prophets had foretold.

Ignited by fierce passion, driven to record what he had witnessed, John struggled to compose his thoughts, grasping for the right words to convey what He had been shown.

It was then that John seized upon the word he needed, to tell who Jesus was . . . the logos.

 

Not a force, but a person in eternity, who had entered into time, to dwell in flesh among us.   . . . coming as a man who wept and hurt, tired and hungered, loved and laughed . . . demonstrating the divine intent by spending Himself sacrificially out of compassion for the lost and wounded.

  • In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God. He was in the beginning with God.  All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.  In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. . . . There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.  . . And the Logos became flesh, and dwelt among us,

                                                                                                                John 1:1-5, 9, 14

The Word, the Logos 

In Jesus, John sees the light and life of the logos eternally shining,

entering into the world, giving light to men.

 

John seizes the opportunity to present a thought larger than all thought that has come before–surpassing Greece’s most illumined philosophers, shattering the “national expectation” of the Jewish people awaiting their Messiah–as he brings two ancient cosmologies together.

  • Jesus is the logos long observed by the Greeks, the ordering influence to which they gave a name — WITHOUT EVER SEEING the Person who was there.
  • Jesus is the word of God undeviatingly asserted by the Jews to be the unseen power creating and ordering reality — BUT THEY DID NOT RECOGNIZE  the time of His visitation.

John is declaring that the streaming, unseen force that orders time and events (Greek Logos) is the word of God (Hebrew concept) having the power to create and order reality.  He is telling us that this logos-word of God has coalesced in someone— who proved that He was both by ordering the wind to still the sea, by re-configuring blind eyes to see and broken bodies to be made whole, by speaking a word to create serenity where there had been torment, by praying over a few loaves of bread and fish to multiply their physical mass to feed thousands, by laying down His life and having the power to take it up again.

 

What does this mean to you?

  • First of all, I want you to see the logos nature of the word of God, that it is more than The Bible we hold in our hands.  (We will delve into the awesomeness of Scripture in two weeks.) I want you to capture a broader vision of what the word is — what Scripture tells us it is —so that you can begin to recognize and respond to the word when it comes to work in you.


  • Second, if John’s contention that all things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being . . .  if Jesus is the ordering influence that has always been shaping, guiding and propelling  things. . . then His logic, mind, reasoning, information, words, messages, thought processes and ordering influence is streaming through everything that is taking place in your life.

And your orientation

to that ordering stream has significant implication

John is not the only one who stretches our minds to take in this almost incomprehensible identification of Jesus as the ordering influence of the logos. The writer of Hebrews paints a stunning word picture amplifying John’s vision:

 

  • He is the sole expression of the glory of God [the Light-being, the out-raying or radiance of the divine], and He is the perfect imprint and very image of [God’s] nature, upholding and maintaining and guiding and propelling the universe by His mighty word of power

                              Hebrews 1:3, Amplified Bible

The Word, The Logos

Interestingly, in the universe which new science is discovering, “mind” seems to permeate the cosmos. “Cyberspace” is air filled with information we retrieve electronically: information streams and floats unseen. Information is described as a “dynamic element, taking center stage. It is information that gives order, that prompts growth, that defines what is alive.”  [3]


  • Third, as the structures and relationships in your life come and go, morph and change, bringing constant disruption and upheaval, you need to know that you can find and latch onto the ordering influence that is at work around and in you.  You grow and find your way, not from the rigidity of outwardly controlling structures, but from the availability of God’s guiding influence, the “living water” Jesus gives.

The woman at the well  (John 4: 1-30) had been through multiple husbands, continual disruption, and she remained disoriented to what would bring rightness in her being, right relationship with God and right relationship with man.  What she needed wasn’t compliance to the outward structures of her village’s social order and approval, but the “living water” Jesus offered. When that Samaritan woman drank in the message He shone into her heart, a radical new order took over — she no longer fit the pattern of shamed disgrace, rejected because of her promiscuity. That was over and done. She who came to the well at an hour when she could avoid her neighbors ran back to her village to find them, to share her life-changing discovery. She became a voice they listened to.  She became a point of light still beaming today, in a new order of significance.

Logos, the word of God had come to find her,

to create, to order a new reality

  • Fourth, when life is coming apart, I want you to know what to look for. We confuse control with order–striving for control, when we need order. Control stifles and kills, enforcing conformity by exerting outward pressure and rigid structure. The mass murderer, Lenin, said, “Freedom is good, but control is better.” [4]

“What if we stopped looking for control

and began, in earnest, the search for order?” [5] 

                                                                                    Margaret Wheatley

 

It is so incredibly freeing, hopeful and healthy, when things are not working, to look with expectancy for direction and guidance coming from God — for the ordering influence, that in His goodness, He is bringing into our circumstances.

Last week, Julie described the transformation that took place, when she stopped trying to coerce herself into being a better Christian, and she began to look for the word, the orderly arrangement of messages that would come together, seeing Jesus in the sequential flow of events and “coincidences” that He orchestrated. . . She stopped looking for control and began to search in earnest for the hints, glimpses and bits of information steering her toward a new order in her mind — bringing vitality and aliveness to her relationship with  God.

 

  • Lastly, the truth told will create a new imperative for you to seek and respect the ordered messages that God is right now bringing to you.  What are they?  It is not the privilege of a few, but the universal experience of us all that . . .

“The events in our lives

happen in a sequence in time,

but in their significance to ourselves

they find their own order,

the continuous thread of revelation.

                                                                                                             Eudora Welty

 


[1] The New American Commentary on the book of John, Copyright © 1991-2007 by B & H Publishing Group, Bible Soft

[3] Margaret J. Wheatley, Leadership and the New Science, Learning about Organization from an Orderly Universe. Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. San Francisco, 1994. P 102.

[4] Ibid, p 22.

[5] Ibid. p 23

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