Like Father, Like Son

 

John 1:1, 10-18

     Unlike Matthew or Luke, John was writing to both the Greeks and to the Jews. John was trying to combine something that was familiar to both of them as a common denominator. Both Jews and Greeks recognized that there was a force in the universe that held things together in an organized way, and that caused things to happen. The Greeks gave it the name, ‘the Logos’. When you translate ‘logos’ into English, it becomes ‘the word.’ (In Greek, logos also can be translated as “teaching.”)

     To the Jews, a word was a force that when you spoke it, it possessed energy. It went out and did something. It wasn’t some scribbling on a piece of parchment. When the word of the Lord came to someone, it was an energized thought spoken into the heart.

     When God spoke and said, “Let there be light”, the word went out and made light happen. To the Greeks, the Logos was the Wisdom of the universe that connected and held all things in place. To the Jews, the logos literally meant ‘the wisdom’ or the ‘activating energy of the universe.’

     John was telling the Greeks and Jews that this Word that both of them looked up to became flesh. And his name is Jesus of Nazareth. Jesus was the Word that possessed energy to bring harmony to the world. Jesus was the truth, the wisdom, and the activity of God.

     Throughout John’s gospel, Jesus identifies himself as this Force. He says, “I am the light of the world”; “I am the bread of life”; “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” He said, “The Father and I are one”; and “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (we are one and the same). Jesus is the revelation and truth about God in a form the world could see, hear, feel, and touch.

     I like John’s Christmas story best of the four Gospels. He tells it as directly as you can. And he tells it to both Jews and non-Jews. He said, the Word, the Wisdom of the Universe, the Creative Force that holds all things together, came into the world as a human being. God’s very self, heart and being, became flesh.

     That’s one reason the Jews were so upset and treated the first Christians so poorly. The Jews continued to believe in an image of God passed down for two thousand years. It was an image based on a God that had never been seen. Jesus said in so many words, “If you want to know what God is like and what God wants, look at me.” Like Father, like Son. If it’s true that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, then Jesus is still upsetting a lot of apple carts.

     Trying to figure out religion by comparing the perspectives of different authors of the Bible who were writing to different audiences makes me want to be more like Charlie Brown in the cartoon that has Charlie Brown, Linus, and Lucy lying on a hillside looking up at the clouds. Lucy says, “If you use your imagination, you can see lots of things in the cloud formations. What do you think you see, Linus?”

     Linus replies, “Well, those clouds up there look to me like the map of the British Honduras on the Caribbean. The cloud up there looks a little like the profile of Thomas Eakins, a famous painter and sculptor. And that group of clouds over there gives me the impressions of the stoning of Stephen. I can see the Apostle Paul standing there to one side.”

     Lucy responds, “Uh, huh, That’s very good. What do you see in the clouds, Charlie Brown?” and Charlie responds with his typical note of inadequacy: “Well, I was going to say I saw a ducky and a horsy, but I changed my mind.”[1]  

     We can make cloud formations simple or complex. The Gospel writer John tried to simplify it. Jesus is the image of God. Jesus is the Wisdom of the Universe made flesh. He is the Mind and Heart and Fullness of God in a form we could see, and hear, and touch.

     Even St. Paul tries to get this across. In Colossians 1:15 &19 (NKJV), he said, “For he [Jesus] is the image of the invisible God… it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell.” The writer of Hebrews (1:3, NKJV) says, “He [Jesus] is …the exact imprint of God’s very being…” Jesus doesn’t show us only the compassionate part of God. He is the fullness of God within the physical boundaries of matter and space.

     The Old Testament is the incredible witness of those who loved the God who was Unseen. And then they met God in human form. And the rest is history.

     My original concepts of God came from blending the two images of God – God was a loving God, but you’d better be careful around Him. God was a forgiving God, but don’t make the same mistake twice or you’ll make him angry enough to hurt you. Today, I have one image of God, a New Testament image shown in human form. Jesus shows all the good traits ascribed to God in the Old Testament and none of the punishing and vindictive traits.

     Jesus was clear in his claims about himself and his heavenly Father. He told his disciples, “If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well” (John 14:7). Jesus liberates us from any fear we could have of a God who wants to hurt us if and when we fail. Jesus shows us a God who would rather die in our place than hurt us…a God of unconditional love and mercy. That’s the kind of God you could turn your life over to.

     In Jesus, we know the truth about the person and character of God. My hope is that you too will equate and connect, in a deep and personal way, the image of God the Father Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth with Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. The Word was made flesh. If you want to get to know the Father better, look at the Son.

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I’ve got a new ebook coming out on Jan. 19th – 7 Prayers for the Power to Forgive and Move Forward with Your Life. You can preorder it here for 99 cents!

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Also, if you’re interested in a more “New Year” kind of message, check out my other blog here.

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[1] King Duncan, Collected Sermons, www.Sermons.com, “The Light Shines in the Darkness”

 

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