Summary: The ancient Hebrews believed Words had power--they actually did things! The ancient Greeks believed words were the guiding force in the universe. Finally, in the Gospel of John both of these things come together in Jesus Christ.
(Psalm 147.7-11 as Scripture of Praise/Preparation)
I. Words have lost their meaning in our culture
A. Love—I love ice cream, I love my wife.
B. “How are you doing?” Fine
1. non-descript, vague
2. When we ask, do we really want to hear how the person is doing?
3. What if we’re having a really good day, but that person is having a really bad day, do we really want to hear what’s going on in their lives?
4. We might get depressed, too!
5. Fine—most of us do not want to burden others with our problems, we don’t want to bring anyone else down.
C. What are some words that may have lost some of their meaning in our culture?
II. Purpose of John’s book (20.30-31)
A. “written so that you (plural) may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” (Some manuscripts have: “written so that you may continue to believe”)
B. Admitted that the gospel is not complete—contains only a portion of what Jesus did—but that is not the point.
III. (ho logos)- “The Word” (John 1.1)
A. Hebrew Thought
1. More than mere sounds—words actually did things.
Professor John Paterson: “The spoken word to the Hebrew was fearfully alive. . . . It was a unit of energy charged with power.”
2. “Love” was between people and God—not ice cream.
a) An intimate exchange of feelings and thoughts
b) Key=exchange…ice cream does not respond to us when we share our feelings or thoughts with it.
3. Words had so much power the Hebrew language had fewer than 10,000 words. Compare with Greek: more than 200,000 words.
4. Modern poet tells story of a hero
a) Could not re-tell his story to tribe for lack of words.
b) A man arose “afflicted with the necessary magic of words.”
c) Told the story in terms so vivid and so moving that “the words became alive and walked up and down in the hearts of his hearers.”
5. Poem by Will Carleton
“Boys flying kites haul in
their white-winged birds;
You can’t do that way when
you’re flying words:
‘Careful with fire,’ is good advice
‘Careful with words,’ is ten times
Thoughts expressed may
sometimes fall back dead,
But God himself can’t kill
them when they’re said.”
6. OT examples of the power of words:
a) Isaac blessing Jacob instead of Esau (Gen. 27)
b) Creation in Genesis 1: “And God said . . . and it was so.”
7. This is the power of the WORD!
B. Greek Thought
1. Also more than mere sounds, but the Word was the “divine principle of reason.”
2. Thought and reason ruled the Greek world.
3. Acc. to Greek philosopher Heraclitus, everything in the world is in flux.
a) One can never step into the same river twice.
b) Step in then step out.
c) Step in again, it’s a different river.
d) The previous water has flowed on and it is a different river.
e) Everything in the world was like this, acc. to Heraclitus.
4. But, Heraclitus asked, if everything is constantly changing, why was life not complete chaos? How can there be any sense in a world where there was constant flux and change?
a) Answer: change/flux was not haphazard; rather, controlled and ordered