For whatever else you love about Jesus — his tenderness, his meekness, his kindness, and his patience — John wants you to be blown away so that all of that is inside something absolutely huge. Jesus made the galaxies, this Jesus whose tenderness you love, patience you love, and kindness you love, and rightly so. He held children in his arms. And it is this one who made the world and was God.
We should ask, “Why did John choose to call him the Word?” I said the most important thing you can know about the Word is that it became flesh. He became flesh, but I’m still asking, “Could he used another word? Could he have used another name? Truth?” In the beginning was the truth. In the beginning was the light. In the beginning was the way. In the beginning was the life. He could’ve said any of those. Why Word?
The Decisive Message from God
John calls Jesus the Word because he had come to see the words of Jesus — the things that came out of his mouth — as the truth of God and the person of Jesus as the truth of God in such a unified way that Jesus himself, in his coming, working, teaching, dying, and rising, was the final decisive message from God — Word from God. John listened to him teach and he saw him work, and his person and his word were so unified that that totality was Word — was message from God.
Unified in Words and Work
Let me put it another way. What God had to say to us at the fullness of time, what God had to say to the world was not only or mainly what Jesus said — so many take him as an admirable teacher, being very selective in what they believe — but also who Jesus was and what he did. That was the main thing God had to say to us. His words clarify himself in his work, but his self in his work were the main truth that God was revealing.
“Jesus’s words clarify himself in his work, but his self in his work was the main truth that God was revealing.”
Jesus said, “I am the truth” (John 14:6). He said, “I came to witness to the truth,” so he was the truth and he witnessed to the truth. Word over here and a kind of word, witness, in his life over here, and John just saw all of that coming together as one great message — word — from God. Or he said, “If you abide in my word” and he said, “Abide in me.” John listens to this: “Abide in my word, abide in me, abide in my word, abide in me.” Does it mean abide in his word? In his word, you’re in him. In him, you’re in his word, and he saw them coming together.
He also said, “The works that I do bear witness to me.” In other words, his working was his witness — his hands, feet, legs, mind, and mouth working was a witness. You put all that together, as John watched this man be truth, be the message, and speak the message, and you see them come together again and again, and John drew the conclusion: “I think the best thing I can call him from eternity is God’s Word — God’s message to us.” God’s decisive message became flesh.
He Is the Word and Rules by His Word
Here’s one other clue. I believe the same author who wrote the Gospel of John wrote the Revelation of John. The language is so similar in so many ways, so many concepts are the same, and it’s attributed to the same. I have no reason to doubt it. In Revelation 19:13, John describes Jesus at the second coming like this: “He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood and the name by which he is called is the Word of God.” Four versus later he says, “And from his mouth comes a sharp sword.” We all know what that is. By this sword, he will rule the nations. The sword is the Word of God.
God Has Spoken to Us by His Son
So he is the Word of God and he’s ruling by the Word of God, and so John saw these coming together from beginning to end that his speaking and his being were so unified in God’s intention for him that he called him, in Revelation 19 and in John 1, the Word — the Word of God. I think as John begins his book, he has in view all the revelation, the truth, the witness, the glory, the light, and the words that came from Jesus, that Jesus was, his living, his teaching, his dying, his rising, and he sums it all up that revelation that came and says, “That was God’s final, decisive Word.” This is exactly what the writer of Hebrews says.
“In many ways, God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son” (Hebrews 1:1–2). There it is: the Son of God was the ultimate, decisive, and final Word of God to the world. That’s why these gospels are so amazingly important.
Read, watch, or listen to the full message: