Author: Ron Graham
The PROCLAMATION of Jesus as the REVEALER who manifested God and preached the gospel of eternal life.
We now return to the three opening verses of John chapter one. In this lesson we think of Jesus as "the Word". This title for Jesus seems a little strange, and has an air of mystery about it. But the very name suggests, as we shall see, that Jesus was the one who explained the greatest mystery of all, and bore witness to its truth.
There are five terms in the introduction above, which help us to understand Jesus as the Word. These terms are: Explainer, Revealer, Witness, Proclaimer, Manifester. Their meanings overlap, of course, but nevertheless it will be helpful to take them one at a time.
It isn't easy trying to understand God. But it would be so much more difficult if God had not become one of us, and lived among us, explaining himself to us through his own human lips and life. John wrote,
"No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained him" (John 1:18).
We may think of Jesus as the Word of explanation --not only in his teachings, but in the way he lived. In Jesus we find the best explanation of the nature and wisdom of God, and of our own right relationship with God.
The R in GLORY stands for REVEALER. There were things that were once veiled in mystery that have now been revealed through Jesus. He is the Word in the sense that he brings to us the word of revelation from God.
Paul describes what Jesus Christ proclaimed (and what is proclaimed about him) as "the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret since the world began, but now has been made manifest..." (Romans 16:26).
The early Christians and their apostles were very conscious that they had been blessed with a new knowledge and understanding that God's people had long awaited, "The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants..." (Revelation 1:1)
Peter says that the prophets of old "enquired and searched diligently" to understand the things of which they prophesied. Even "angels desired to look into" these things, but did not understand. Today, through the Spirit sent by Jesus, the past mystery has been disclosed. The essence of that revelation is "the sufferings of Jesus and the glories that would follow" (1Peter 1:11) .
We may think of Jesus as the Word of revelation through whom the world's greatest mystery, the eternal purpose of God, is now a mystery no longer.
Jesus claimed to be an eyewitness of what he has told us. "As my Father taught me, I speak these things... I speak what I have seen with my Father" (John 8:28,38) .
For a testimony to be made a basis for judgment, it must be given by two or three witnesses, and the Father's clear witness has backed up the testimony of the Son (John 8:18 Luke 3:22) .
Who could speak on earth with higher authority and surety than The Word who was in the beginning with God (John 1:1) ? No wonder he often used the expression, "Truly, truly, I say to you..."
We may think of Jesus as the Word of witness who declares to us what he has seen in the bosom of his Father in glory.
When Jesus came to his home town, he opened the scriptures in the synagogue and read from Isaiah...
The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
Because he has annointed me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted;
To preach deliverance to the captives;
And recovery of sight to the blind;
To set at liberty the opressed;
To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. (Isaiah 61:1-2)
Then Jesus sat down to speak, and his message was brief: "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing" (Luke 4:18-21) .
Through Jesus those who have been injured and oppressed by evil have found hope and deliverance in the gospel which Jesus preached. No more important message has ever been proclaimed than that preached by Jesus and by his disciples after him.
"In him was life, and the life was the light of mankind" (John 1:4) .
We may think of Jesus as the Word of proclamation of the way of salvation and life.
A hymn or common confession of the early church stated, "God was manifested in the flesh" (1Timothy 3:16) .
John calls Jesus "the Word of life" and then says, "The life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and decare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was made manifest to us" (1John 1:1-2) .
To make manifest means to make readily perceived and understood, to show something clearly so that nothing is hidden from inspection. As John expresses it, "What we have heard, seen with our eyes and looked upon, what our hands have handled" (1John 1:1) .
John said, "No one has seen God at any time" (John 1:18) . Yet John acknowledges that in one sense this is not true, for he records that Jesus said, "He who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9) .
Jesus gave God a human form for the world to behold, and manifested God to the world in a unique way, by becoming a human being and living among us as one of us. Anthropomorphism (ascribing human characteristics to a god) is as old as mythology. But Jesus was truly God in truly human form.
As "God manifest in the flesh" Jesus was able to speak and to act in a manner completely open and understandable to us.
Here was no no pillar of smoke, no mysterious dream or vision, no still small voice in the night.
Here was a walking talking man in broad daylight. You could hug him, have lunch with him, crack a joke with him, cry on his shoulder. You could take him fishing, ask him to mend your kitchen chair, sit on the grass and listen to him.
A prostitute could wash his feet with her tears and tresses. A brute soldier could drive spikes through his hands. A rich man could lend him his grave. A God like that has to make some sense, doesn't he?
Through his friends and beloved disciples, we can read what he said and did. Their account of this man who was God makes God manifest to us.
We can think of Jesus as the Word of manifestation in whom God was shown to the world.