Day 20: Jesus is the Word
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. – John 1:1-2, 14
Back in the 19th century, Chiang Mai, located in the upper north of Thailand (or Siam at that time), had their own local ruler. The most powerful among their rulers was Chao Kawilorot Suriyawong from the Thip Chak dynasty. He was feared among courtiers and people. In a courtroom, when he said “Owa,” it meant an immediate death sentence. The public designated him “Chao Fa – Chao Chiwit,” a king with the power of life and death over his people.
With that power, he issued a death penalty to the first two Thai Christians in the north, Nan-Inta and Noi-Suriya, condemning them for professing faith in Jesus Christ. Both were brutally executed in September 1869. The intent was to warn people that a cruel fate awaited all who should leave the state religion (Buddhism) for Christianity. However, in 1878, the king of all Thailand, Rama the Fifth, issued a royal command granting freedom of religion to all Thai people and rendering Suriyawong’s words powerless. The story is an example that the more powerful a person is, the more power their words have.
The text in John 1:1-2, 14 introduces us to a powerful Word, powerful because it was with God in the beginning and was God. John gets his understanding of this Word from the Old Testament. In Genesis 1, the text repeatedly reads, “And God said…. And it was so.” The book of Psalms declares, “By the word of the Lord the heavens were made… For He spoke, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast” (Psalm 33:6,9). Psalm 107:20 states, “He sent out his word and healed them; he rescued them from the grave.” God’s Word brought the universe into existence, provided healing to the sick, and gave life to those near death. Additionally, Isaiah 55:11 reads, “…so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” For Jews like John, a spoken word embodies the person who spoke it. So, God’s word represents God Himself.
All of that background is in view as John makes the connection that Jesus is the Word who came in power to do the Father’s bidding. “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). The phrase, “made his dwelling among us” literally means “tabernacled among us.” The term tabernacle in the Old Testament was an earthly picture of God’s dwelling place among men. Thus, Jesus, taking on human flesh was God “pitching his tent” among us!
John writes his gospel to present the glory of this unique person of Jesus Christ, “so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31). And he starts with the reality that Jesus is the Word, the unmatchable power of God at work in the world in human flesh. He has finished God’s plan in creation and in redemption by fulfilling God’s Word through His life, His death, and His resurrection.
Reflect on that reality for a moment. For ancient human kings, their word determined life or death and was a force of great power. For God, the King of kings, Jesus is the Word of God made flesh. And with all the power of the eternal God, He died that we might live, and lives that death will die. The hope of Advent is that you will know God and find life in this Jesus who is the Word of God in the flesh.
Let’s praise Him and call upon him: O great and glorious Word of God, Jesus Christ, we praise and glorify You. We humbly ask You, by the holy mystery of Your incarnation and nativity, to deliver us. Let the glad tidings we commemorate this season be made known to all people. Amen.
Dr Varunaj Churnai is a Christian Education pastor of Sapanleang Klongton Church and a biblical studies professor at Bangkok Institute of Theology and Bangkok Bible Seminary. She also coordinates Langham Preaching in Thailand.