2002-12-04 - Memra
This devotional is dedicated to 8 men from my church, their families and everyone who prayed for them as they sought to serve the Lord in a calling few hear or heed. It is constructed from the first 18 verses of the Gospel of John, and I believe it truly conveys the thoughts John intended.
The Greek term logos that John used is translated "Word" in English. In John's day, all he had to use was the Greek Word "logo,"s which is much different from what a Jewish fisherman meant to convey by an Aramaic term common to his day - which is also translated Word. That Word is "Memra." It is very interesting to note what the rabbis of that days concept of Memra was. Following are 6 things they taught about the "Memra."
1. The same, but distinct, from God
First, the Memra was the same, but distinct, from God. The rabbis never tried to explain the obvious paradox -- How was it possible for the Memra, on the one hand, to be God - but on the other hand, distinct from God?
This is the same thing that John said in verse 1, by stating that the Word was with God. It means Jesus was distinct from God. By saying the Word was God, it means Jesus was the same as God. Like the rabbis, at this point John did not try to explain away the obvious paradox. This is explained only later in the Gospel, in terms of the tri-unity. The logos is distinct from God, in that He is not God the Father, nor is He God the Holy Spirit. He is the same as God, in that He is the second person of the trinity. He is God the Son, and therefore the same as God. Only in terms of the tri-unity, can the rabbinic paradox of the memra in Jewish theology be explained.
2. The Agent of Creation
The 2nd thing the rabbis taught was that the Memra was the agent of Creation. Everything God created, He did so by use of His Memra, by means of His Word. So without the Memra, nothing would exist that now exists. In verse 3 of John 1, John wrote: "All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made."
What is true of the Memra in Jewish theology, is true of the logos of whom John wrote. And so without Him nothing would exist that now exists.
3. The Agent of Salvation
The third thing the rabbis taught about the Memra, was that the memra was the agent of salvation. Whenever God saved throughout the history of the Old Testament, whether physical (Exodus out of Egypt) or spiritual salvation, God always saved by means of His Memra - by means of His Word. In John 1:12 John said, "But as many as received Him, to them gave he the right to become children of God, even to them that believe on His name."
As with the Memra of Jewish theology, so with the logos of john - He is the Agent of Salvation. For it is those who personally believe in Him and receive Him, who become children of God and receive spiritual salvation from Him - The Agent of Salvation.
To Be Continued...
In His Service,