Jesus is the Real Deal – by Milton Hook

Oct 29, 2015 3948

Screen Shot 2015-10-29 at 3.55.45 amIf we wish to know the facts of the life of Jesus we use the Gospels of Matthew, Mark and Luke. The apostle John writes differently. He takes the facts and wraps them in a spiritual parcel.

John’s gospel speaks to Greeks. He doesn’t expect his audience to understand Christianity through the prism of Jewish literature. He knows the futility of talking about messiahship, messianic prophecies and Hebrew genealogies. Instead, he uses the Greek’s own thought categories.

Greeks were smart thinkers. They saw there was some mathematical precision about the heavens and earth. They appreciated the beauty and interdependence of the natural world. They concluded that there was more than chance behind a human mind that could meditate about self-awareness and the place of man in nature. There was, they believed, a supreme mind or intelligence or reasoning entity as the ultimate cause of all things, invisible but nevertheless real. They called this mind the Logos.

There were two distinct sections to the Greek universe. The invisible part contained the Logos and all that was real and eternal, but the visible world was fragile and temporary and so unlike the real that the analogy of a shadow remains inadequate. (The misunderstood Jewish expression, “Man was made in the image of God,” has the same meaning, i.e., in all respects man is radically unlike the eternal God, beyond comparison).

John brilliantly capitalises on the Greek idea of Logos. He does not compromise the Jewish understanding of God. He virtually says, “What I believe about God is similar to what you believe about Logos.” Then he declared that Jesus was the Logos, who had created all things, who had come from the invisible part of the universe and become visible, but at the same time remained truly the real.

Jesus himself had never claimed to be the Logos. After all, he was among Jews and usually addressed Jews. However, he did claim to be God. John simply adapts the wording.

In his characterisations John is persistent, painting Jesus in different categories as the Real who entered the unreal. That is, Jesus is the real bread, the spiritual bread (6:35). Jesus is the real water, the spiritual water that gives real life (7:37). He is the real shepherd (10:11) and the real vine (15:1). Jesus is the personification of real truth, spiritual truth, and the only guaranteed path to real life, spiritual life (14:6).

These are high claims. They would be a bag of bones if it were not for the muscle that John provides by including some of the miracles of Jesus, especially the raising of Lazarus from the dead. The crowning argument, of course, is the story of the resurrection of Jesus himself and his subsequent visits to the disciples. All these are offered as evidence that Jesus is the real deal.

We, as non-Jews, naturally find John’s gospel more appealing. For example, we find the Jewish genealogies in Matthew and Luke relatively boring when compared to John’s introduction of Jesus as the Supreme Intelligence or Logos. When we recommend a gospel to a non-believer we tend to prefer John’s story. John uses the biographical facts as scaffolding to construct a Jesus who is irresistible, one who appeals to both our mind and our heart and gives hope to the inner soul. He is the Real Deal.

– Milton Hook

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