I had my first class in Greek this week and started learning the alphabet. After only an hour and only learning four words, our tutor informed us that we could now read 10% of the New Testament (because the four words we had learned are used a lot of times!) One word in particularly though made my heart skip a beat. Ἱησους – pronounced Yaysoos, meaning Jesus. I’d never seen Jesus as the early Christians wrote it before. It’s quite exciting to think I might be reading the words that they read/heard.
In class we also looked at John 1 in the Greek. The gospel of John doesn’t begin with a genealogy. It begins with a statement that echoes Genesis 1, the beginning. Genesis tells us that “in the beginning, God” and describes God’s creating the world, animals and people. More than that, God fashions a relationship with the people He created. John tells us that “in the beginning was the word” – logos in the Greek. Strong’s tells us that the word logos is not just letters strung together to communicate, but it’s a word that “embodies an idea”, makes a “statement.” Through Jesus, God made a statement in how we were to be in relationship with Him and with each other. “Grace and truth” (John 1). Relying on God’s grace, but also being gracious with each other. Accepting the truth of Jesus’ identity as the Son of God, with the understanding that not everyone accepted this truth.
I also learned that the gospels and the letters weren’t written in posh Greek, like the Greek plays were. The New Testament documents were written in the everyday person’s Greek. They were written to convey a message to as many people as possible, from those with Master’s degrees to those who failed their GCSE’s. From the shepherds to the wise guys, from the kid sharing his lunch to the Pharisee who did have ears to hear Jesus. This message was not just for an elite class. It was for everyone.
More than that, the language of the gospels and letters reflect the grassroots movement of the people that is ‘early Christianity’. These letters and gospels were the “tweets” and “shared Facebook posts” of their day. They were the forwarded emails. Quite literally, the shared letters from friends. People grabbed hold of this grace-filled truth of Jesus Messiah, Jesus the Christ, and passed it on.
I suppose the challenge for us is to think about what information we are passing on and sharing. (Does the information we share point people to Jesus and God’s work in the world?) But more than that, to be thankful that even now, after 2000 years, we have this same hope to share. And we too are able to pass the good news about Jesus on, in our everyday language, to everyone.
Because Jesus is real. People may debate the meaning of each story, but regardless, Jesus is real. He changed lives 2000 years ago, and He continues to change lives today.
The light still shines (John 1:5).