Thursday, July 29, 2010

“The Word” Illustration

In both the Qur’an and in the Bible, Jesus is referred to as the/a/his “word.”  I have posted about this before (Jesus as The Word of God).  Here are some of the relevant verses:

“Behold! The angels said, “Oh Mary! Allah gives you Glad tidings of a Word from Him: his name will be Christ Jesus. The son of Mary, held in honor in this world and the next and of those nearest to Allah” (Surah 3:45).

“...Christ Jesus the son of Mary was indeed an apostle of God and his word, which he bestowed on Mary, and a spirit proceeding from him...” (Surah 4:171).

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us… He has made [God] known” (John 1:1; 14; 18).

I have found it helpful to use this shared title of Jesus as an illustration with new seekers or believers in order to explain his identity.  This illustration originally comes from Common Ground, and I have modified it a bit.  I hope you can take what you see below and adapt it to suit your preferences. 

Begin by opening the Injeel to John 1:1-18 and have a piece of paper to draw on with you.  It’s a simple illustration that doesn’t take very long.  A question like this can open up the conversation, “You and I both believe that Jesus is the word of God.  What does that mean?”

image1.  I start off by drawing this modification of the ancient diagram of the “tri-unity.”  At this point, I’m only trying to illustrate the complexity of God’s oneness while staying away from potentially problematic phrases such as Father and Son.  I don’t understand God’s nature or how God is one, but even Muslims can agree that he is Word and Spirit.

image 2.  After discussing the mystery of God’s unity, I ask, “If God is Spirit how can we know him?”  We are human and use our 5 senses.  But God is holy and separate from his creation.  In #1 and #2, there is obviously a lot more you could say (and heresies you need to avoid), but try to keep it simple.  The big idea is the identity of Jesus.

image 3.  “The word became human and lived among us.”  Jesus Messiah is the word of God.  He came from God.  If you’re feeling bold, you can say that Jesus is God in the flesh (John 1:1c).  Remember, it is best to use this illustration with the Injeel open to John 1.


image 4.  Finally, if we want to know what God is like and who he is, we look to Jesus.  “He has revealed God to us” (John 1:18).  The point of this illustration is that we know Allah because of and through Jesus the Messiah.

In my experience, the fruit of this simple illustration is that the Muslim seeker begins to indirectly understand the incarnation.  He is also getting used to learning directly from the Bible.

Try it out with your friends and let us know how it goes and how it can improved!

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