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The Word made flesh

John 1:1-14

Pastor David Ernst

Christmas Day
Epiphany Lutheran Mission of La Caramuca  
Barinas, Venezuela

Play MP3 of this sermon

Sun, Dec 25, 2016 

Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Our text for today reads as follows: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. The word translated "Verb" in the Reina-Valera and "Word" in other translations is a very special word in Greek. This word, λόγος, is key to understanding the person and work of Jesus Christ.

It is important to understand λόγος to understand who Jesus Christ is. Many people say, I believe in Jesus. I love Jesus. I think a lot about Jesus. But, the question is, who is Jesus to them? Who is Jesus for us? Those who do not correctly understand who Jesus is do not have saving faith.

This first verse of the Gospel according to John is important when we speak with the Jehovah's Witnesses. They are always on the streets, especially during Holy Week and this current season to promote their version of the gospel. However, their gospel is false, because they do not believe that the "Verb" or "Word" is equal to God. That means, Jesus is not equal to God the Father Almighty, who is Jehovah God. The Son is a creature like the archangel Michael, perhaps is the archangel Michael. But he is not God.

Therefore, in the Bible of Jehovah's Witnesses, the first verse of the Gospel according to John is altered, because the Greek text does not conform to their belief. The order of words in Greek is important, because it does not allow another interpretation: The Word was God. In fact, the Greek text says, God was the Word. All that God was in the beginning, the Word was. Also, all God is now, the Word is. To say the Verb, or the Word is like God, but it is not God, we must change the order of the words in the original text. We can not do it, because as it is written by the Holy Spirit, so it is written.

Both translations of λόγος, "Verb" or "Word" are legitimate. But, this word, λόγος, is unique to the Greek and no word in any other language is precisely the same. Λόγος is the root of words such as psychology, odontology, or zoology. Psychology means knowledge of the human mind. Zoology means knowledge of animals. Another example, genealogy, means knowledge of your ancestors. Therefore, λόγος can mean knowledge.

It can mean wisdom, also purpose or plan. The concept of λόγος was important in Greek philosophy and the thoughts of the Jews in the centuries before Christ. Let me talk about history. The historical narrative of the Old Testament concludes with the return of the Jews from captivity in Babylon. They were taken into captivity by the king of Babylon, but Babylon was defeated by the Medes, who were defeated by the empire of Persia. All the empires of the world rise for a while and fall according to the plan or purpose of God. The prophet Isaiah lived during the dominion of Persia and wrote our reading of the Old Testament (Isaiah 45: 1-8) to Cyrus, emperor of Persia.

Thus saith the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus, whom I took by his right hand, to subdue nations before him, and to loose the loins of kings; To open before him gates, and the gates shall not be shut ... For my servant Jacob's sake, and Israel my chosen one, I have called thee by thy name, although you did not know me.

Under the rule of Persia, the Jews returned to the land of Palestine and rebuilt the city of Jerusalem and its Temple. However, after a time the empire of the Persians was defeated by the Greeks. The conqueror Alexander the Great, 300 years before Christ, established an empire from Greece to Persia. After the death of Alexander the Great, his empire fell into pieces due to the rivalry of his generals. But Alexander sowed among other peoples the admiration for Greek achievements in philosophy, science and the fine arts. Greek was converted into the common language of the world around the Mediterranean Sea. That is why the New Testament was written in Greek.

At this time, known as the Hellenistic Era, Jews were scattered everywhere and everyone knew something of the cultures of the Greeks and the Jews. So, the concept of λόγος meant something to everyone. The Greeks and the Jews together thought that the totality of God too much for man to understand or endure. Remember when Moses asked God to see his face, God told him, no man can see my face and live. Then, λόγος also meant a mediator between God and men, something or someone who can reveal the plan or purpose of God in a way that the human mind can understand.

However, neither the Greeks nor the Jews believed that the λόγος, the mediator, could be God himself and a man of flesh and blood at the same time. This is possible because God is triune, three persons in one God. The Father sent his Son to be born of the Virgin Mary. This is the mystery of the Incarnation of which St. John speaks when he says, And that Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth. That is why St. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 1:23, but we preach Christ crucified, the Jews a stumbling block, and the Gentiles madness.

In addition, the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit to their church to enlighten our minds and guide us in the truth of Christ. Then, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is key to knowing the person and the work of Jesus Christ.

According to St. John, this Word made flesh is equal to the power of God in creation. The book of Genesis says, And God said, let there be light, and there was light. This same Word or Word that created the world is the Word made flesh in Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit was also present in creation when the Spirit of God moved on the face of the waters.

In this sense, the first chapter of the Gospel according to St. John recapitulated the first book of Genesis. But, beyond creation, the same Word for all things was made, was made flesh for us. And God used the Roman Empire for this purpose, because Joseph and Mary traveled to Bethlehem by edict of Augustus Caesar. In Bethlehem the mystery of the Incarnation was realized. The Roman Empire also fell, but Christ is still with us until the end of the world. Therefore, we have peace that surpasses all understanding. Amen.

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