How do we know what someone thinks or feels on a given topic? It’s easiest and most clear if they use words to tell us. Our lives depend on verbal or written communication. I know that we gain a lot of information from non-verbal cues, but … Imagine trying to explain a topic, or give directions, or tell a joke, or describe an event without using any words. That wouldn’t be very easy, would it?
The Bible is God’s words, written down by those He inspired with the information that He wanted to convey. Whether Moses on Mt. Sinai, the Psalmists, the prophets throughout Israel’s history, the Gospel writers, or Paul and the other New Testament letter writers…Each was passing along messages to introduce God to humanity.
The Greek language has a wonderful word for “word”. Logos means more than just the vocabulary words themselves. It means the total expression of something. In normal language, it would encompass not only the verbal but also the non-verbal communication. In written words, it would include the bold or all-caps emphasis, or the separators and white space that I’m using between sections of this article. All of these things help to convey the full meaning of whatever is being communicated.
To God, the written words of the Old Testament weren’t enough. God wants us to really know Him, not just know about Him. Enter…Jesus.
How do we come to know someone? Beyond what they say, we need to spend time with them in order to fully understand them. We need to learn who they really are inside, more than just what can be seen or heard in casual conversation.
Jesus is the Logos of God: the complete expression of God. Not just what He said, but everything He did, everything He was as a man, was a communication of who God is and what He is like. If you look at Jesus, you see God.
In the beginning was the Word [Logos], and the Word was with God, and the Word was God….And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.John 1:1, 14
God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature…Hebrews 1:1-3
[Jesus speaking to the disciples] If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him.” Philip *said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves.John 14:7-11
What does Jesus tell us about God? So many things!
- He has compassion for the weak, the sinful, and the outcast.
- And a leper *came to Jesus, beseeching Him and falling on his knees before Him, and saying, “If You are willing, You can make me clean.” Moved with compassion, Jesus stretched out His hand and touched him, and *said to him, “I am willing; be cleansed.” Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. (Mark 1:40-42; see also Matthew 9:36, Matthew 20:29-34, Mark 2:16-17)
- He is always ready to forgive.
- When they came to the place called The Skull, there they crucified Him and the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left. But Jesus was saying, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Luke 23:33-34; see also Luke 7:47-50, Mark 2:1-5)
- He executes justice against wrong-doing.
- And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves. And He *said to them, “It is written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER’; but you are making it a ROBBERS’ DEN.” (Matthew 21:12-13)
- He has no patience for the self-righteous.
- Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs which on the outside appear beautiful, but inside they are full of dead men’s bones and all uncleanness. So you, too, outwardly appear righteous to men, but inwardly you are full of hypocrisy and lawlessness. (Matthew 23:13-33)
- He has power over nature.
- And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. (Mark 4:35-40)
- He has power over sickness and health, life and death.
- So they removed the stone. … He cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come forth.” The man who had died came forth, bound hand and foot with wrappings, and his face was wrapped around with a cloth. Jesus *said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (John 11:41-44, see also Matthew 4:24)
- He will do whatever it takes to meet people’s needs.
- For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. (Mark 10:45, see also Matthew 15:32-38)
These same traits are shown in the written word of the Old Testament:
- Compassion: Psalm 103:8-14, Isaiah 30:18
- Forgiveness: 2 Chronicles 30:9, Jonah 3:5-10
- Justice: Joshua 23:16, Jeremiah 4:16-18
- No patience for self-righteousness: Isaiah 5:21, Proverbs 30:12
- Power over nature: Jeremiah 10:12-13, Exodus 14:21-22
- Power over sickness/health, life/death: 2 Kings 20:1-11, Exodus 12:23-32
- Meeting needs: Exodus 16:11-15, Exodus 17:1-6
But Jesus, the Living Word, expresses those traits in a deeper, more up-close-and-personal way.
People sometimes have the impression that the God of the Old Testament is harsh, ready to throw lightning bolts at sinners, while Jesus is soft and loving and lets sinners get away free. As you see from the verses above, neither extreme is true. God, expressed thru both written and living Word, is infinitely…
Imagine what it must have been like to be one of Jesus’ close disciples: following Him all day, every day, hearing Him teach, watching Him heal, seeing His interactions with people. He challenged their conceptions of God and of the promised Messiah. But the truth that He showed them was so much better than anything that they could have expected 1.
The culmination of God’s Word, Jesus’ ultimate expression of God’s love and justice and power, was His death on the cross to defeat sin, and His resurrection to demonstrate that victory. That’s how He reconciles His justice with His love: by imposing the penalty for sin, but taking it on Himself. He makes reconciliation available to all of us who don’t deserve it. That tells us what God is really like, and gives us a way to know Him forever.
Footnotes and Scripture References
- The TV series “The Chosen” dramatizes this in a unique way never before portrayed on film. I highly recommend it.