AFTER a night on the Mount of Olives, Jesus came to the Temple to teach the people. It was to be a busy day. This was the day on which the Pharisees brought to Jesus a woman taken in adultery. This was the day on which Jesus claimed His title as the Light of the world, with the subsequent debate with the Pharisees concerning His prerogative to this title. During the course of this debate Jesus made some of His most stinging charges. The Pharisees became so infuriated when He exposed their sinful stubbornness that they attempted to stone Him.
This entire episode was a result of the failure of the Jews to understand Jesus and His message for them.
After considerable conversation Jesus asked, "Why do you not understand what I say?" (John 8:43, R.S.V.; See PDF for the complete quote). I have spoken to you in simple, easy words, and you do not understand them. Why do you not comprehend my words?
"Because you cannot bear to hear my word" (Please see PDF) was the answer Jesus supplied to His own question.
You do not understand My lalia, My spoken words, these simple sentences I have said, because you do not comprehend My logos—the idea behind the sayings; the word in its semantic significance. The distinction between these two words is brought out clearly by Trench in his Synonyms of the New Testament, para, lxxvi: "(See PDF) and (See PDF) are set in a certain antithesis to one another here, and in the seizing of the point of this must lie the right understanding of the verse."
What an insult! No wonder they became angry! This unlettered peasant had the audacity to tell them, the scholars, that they were too ignorant to apprehend His reasoning.
Of course, we enlightened Christians of the twentieth century look back with disdain at the slowness of their perception. We marvel that they were so fearfully faithless.
The insight of our most prayerful meditations must surely compel our most honest and forthright paralleling of this tragic episode of the distant past with our understanding of today.
Do we understand the lalia, the recorded sayings, the spoken words of Jesus? To be sure, we can systematize the doctrines of the Bible into neat little bundles of incontrovertible "truths." But do we really understand His words, His way, His will? If we do, why do we not experience the fullness of the power of the Spirit?
I fear that we have but touched the surface in our spiritual understanding, because we do not adequately experience the logos, the Word, which is both of God and God. "Christ in you, the hope of glory," must challenge us to deeper and dearer experience.
Christ, the logos, the Word made flesh, is implanted in our hearts by the Spirit. When the Spirit had succeeded the selfishness in the lives of the apostles, "the meaning of these truths [lessons taught by Jesus —lalia] flashed upon their minds as a new revelation; and truth, pure and unadulterated, made a place for itself. Then the wonderful experience of His life became theirs. The Word [logos] bore testimony through them."—The Acts of the Apostles, p. 520.
This must not be a theory—a speculative hypothesis—but must be our theology (literally: theos-logos)—God-Word. "The followers of Christ must be partakers of His experience. They must receive and assimilate the word of God. . . . They must . . . reflect the divine attributes."—Patriarchs and Prophets, p. 278.
What a privilege it is to study, to experience the Word. This experience in Christ is "not only to us the promise and pledge of life, not only the means of opening again to us the treasures of wisdom: they are a broader, higher revelation of His character" (Education, p. 28), which revelation reaches its climax in the exemplification of the Word in us His followers.
When through Christ the Word we understand His "words of instruction," lalia, "Jesus is to us an abiding presence, controlling our thoughts and ideas and actions. ... A sense of human accountability and of human influence gives character to our views of life [our interpretations of His lalia]. . . . Jesus Christ is everything to us -—the first, the last, the best in everything. Jesus Christ, His Spirit, His character, colors everything; it is the warp and the woof, the very texture of our entire being."— Testimonies to Ministers, p. 389.
When this has become our experience, a way of life to us, we will, as did Jesus, fairly scintillate the reflection of the Light of the World. Our preaching and teaching, our living and giving, will demonstrate a logos-centered interpretation of the lalia.
Much of the misunderstanding of our message is attributable to our emphasis on the words of the Word, the lalia of the Bible, when our true center of interest and inspiration should be the Word, the Logos. (See Evangelism, pages 184-193.) We are consequently often classed as legalists and literalists.
The Bible, the written Word, is but a symbolic representation of the lalia, the spoken word, which is in turn but a symbol of the logos, the idea behind the spoken word. This in turn comes from Christ, ho logos, "The Word." The truth is found only in the complete revelation of the Word who was made flesh and dwelt among us, and this complete revelation includes both the written lalia and the living Logos.
"Lift up Jesus, you that teach the people, lift Him up in sermon, in song, in prayer." —Gospel Workers, p. 160. As we stand before our classes and our congregations, may we ever make the lalia of the Logos valid and vivid and vibrant.