Reflections on John: Jesus, the Word of God
By Nathaniel Ng
“The man believed in the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way.” John 5:50
It is curious how we call Jesus the Word of God. Have we ever thought about it? The first verse of John opens with calling Jesus the Word. What does Word mean? Why do we call Jesus the Word of God? Going through this study of John I find myself confronted with these questions. What does it mean that Jesus is called the Word of God, and how does that affect my understanding of Jesus?
I suspect that for many, or at the very least, myself, as we read through the Bible or have our conversations and hear about people believing in God’s Word, we think about it in an abstract form, as compared to the personal. Think, for example, about when we call the Bible God’s Word. When we say that, are we saying that every single word of the Bible was really mouthed by God, or are we saying that every single word when understood in its entirety reveals the person of God?
Let me elaborate. Through the reading and study of John, I have come to see that there is a more personal way to understand the Word of God, because the Word of God is more than mere words of God, though that is not an illegitimate way to understand God’s Word; the Word of God is a Person — it is Jesus.
Jesus’ words reveal who He is, and His actions confirm it. But there will come a point when Jesus will not perform any actions (signs) and wants us to trust in His bare words and in His Character alone. That is the single greatest lesson I’ve learnt from the book of John that culminates in John 4, where we read of the healing of the official’s son. For when Jesus refused to perform any signs but just gave His word to the official, the official had a choice: to trust in Jesus and what He said He would do, or to disbelieve Him because Jesus did not give him a sign. But thank God he trusted. And we will see that when he believed in Jesus’ words he wasn’t placing his faith in the mere words of Jesus but rather, in the person of Jesus.
When we believe in the words of God and do them, we show we believe in God Himself.
Believing in God’s Word goes far beyond believing in mere words. When a responsible and reliable friend says he will do something and tells us to relax and take our mind off it, we relax and take our mind off it. Why? Is it because we place our faith in his words or because we place our faith in his character? It is the latter! For, if we knew him to be irresponsible and unreliable, no matter what he said, we would not trust him, even if he said the very same thing a reliable person would. Likewise, when we listen to God’s word, we are faced with a choice: do we want to place our faith in this Person?
Should we? Of course we can! And we must! For what have we seen throughout the book of John but Jesus saying he would do something, and actually doing it? His actions prove his words! And throughout the book of John, Jesus has been saying and doing many things — and all of it was to reveal what God is like, and show that He is infinitely good, and that we can put our whole trust in Him and live according to what He says. And that is what God wants us to do: to put our faith in and trust in His Word.
We must trust in the words and only the bare words of Jesus, nothing more! For when we trust in Jesus’ words we will receive life, and life abundant. O, but it is so difficult! We naturally do not trust God. When we do not have what we want, we start to doubt God. When we do not have nicer meals than others, nicer clothes than others, bigger houses than others, we start to disbelieve God’s goodness! But we must labour to trust Jesus! It is not easy, but it is a good thing, and the only thing that will give us life. For when we trust, we will find that, like the official in John 4, He will prove himself faithful, and will do as He says.
Labour not to trust in your own abilities that will perish, but in Jesus’ words alone, and receive life!