Sunday, September 23, 2012

The Gospel of the Word of God

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said…

God spoke and things came to be. God spoke words, namely a Word. It was by this Word of God that all things came into being and by this Word of God that all things hold together. Here is this Divine Word proceeding from the mouth of God Himself, this Divine Word carrying the full authority of God’s Person, this Divine Word imposing ownership over everything that it creates. 

And it is by this very same Word that we were created. And because we were created by this Word, we are subject to this Word. We are bound to this Word. We are owned by this Word. We receive instruction from this Word as to how we are to live and move and have our being. 

But we rebelled. Recall the Eden story. Eve’s deception came by the serpent causing her to doubt the Word of God. “Did God really say?” We blew it. Humans in rebellion. Creation in chaos. History in tumult. Our relationship to the Word-speaking God shattered. Welcome to the Fall of Man.

Alright, now fast forward in this redemptive-historical narrative.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.

What? This Word is a He? Yes. This Word of God was in the beginning with the Word already was before there was a beginning. That’s difficult, I know. The Word is eternal. The Word existed before time. (Digression: Perhaps it is inappropriate to say that something existed before time. Before is a time word. This Word exists in a way that is not bound to time or space. Where was the Word before creation? Trick question. There is no before and there is no where. The Word is outside of space and time, yet imposes his influence into our space-time reality...breathe.)

The Word was with God. As we said, this Word proceeds from God and is in this sense distinct from God. And the Word was God. This Word is distinct from God but is, as to its nature, Divine. 

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. Incredible! The Word that has always been and is the greatest imposer of authority over all things conceivable PUT ON HUMAN SKIN! And lived among us. The gospel writer says that this Word of God is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, the carpenter’s son, the one born out of wedlock, the one that was less-than-average looking and not all that popular amongst the people that seemed to matter in His day. How’s that for an anticlimax. Cue the chirping crickets. The Word of God became a whisper.

But nonetheless, HE CAME! Still awesome, right? He exists in a Son-to-Father relationship to the One from whom He was spoken. Though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. This is the most brilliant story to be held in the minds of men. That the greatest became the least in order to make the least great. What more beautiful kind of love can there be, that the Word would leave the Mouth from whom He was spoken to be made like us so that we could be made like Him. 

So Jesus lived on our little planet and went about with a crowd of men who really had no clue as to the magnitude of what was going on. But Jesus lived a perfect life, which has to make sense because He authored the rules (see the Old Testament, He breathed all of that before the incarnation). He is the only Man who could keep the standards He set. 

And that made humans very angry. He came to his own, and his own people did not receive him. He came for us, and we writhed away. He did nothing that would merit any punishment or disfavor from men, but we hated Him anyway. So much so that we murdered Him. And not just murdered Him, we NAILED HIM TO A CROSS. We wanted to let him know just what we thought about Him, for “cursed is anyone who is nailed on a tree.” 

Little did we know that was exactly the plan. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. This was God’s plan to redeem His creation. He would come and die for them. And die He did. Drowning in his own blood, flesh hanging from his body like ribbons. (Are you a little disgusted? That’s the point.) We may try to imagine a loincloth on the crucified Jesus, but He was naked and exposed before the whole world, because He was bearing every aspect of the curse for us. The shame of nakedness included. That was the first consequence of sin after all, “Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths.” He was up there, hanging in the expanse between heaven and earth for all to see, in all the shame that he willingly bore for his people. 

And there on the cross, He drank the full cup of the wrath of God. He stood under the full fury of the wrath of God. He bore in His body the shame and punishment that our sins deserve. And He died there. The Word of God was silenced. 

But God. 

But God, being rich in mercy, brought Jesus back. A man got up out of a grave! If this is true, then this is the most important thing that has ever happened. A man was resurrected! Because Jesus told about his resurrection in advance, this event means that God recognizes Jesus‘s statements as true. God accepts Jesus’s sacrifice.

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. When we hear the Word, the Name of Jesus, we bow in gratitude and praise. The Word of God is bellowing forth with great power and is calling sinners to find their sins paid for in the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. Sinners who once had soiled and filthy rags for clothing now stand in robes as white as snow because of the blood of Jesus. If sinners would turn away from themselves and recognize Jesus’s as the Word of God that speaks peace into the human heart, they will be saved. If rebels would, by the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, lay down their hammer and nails and set aside their hatred for the Messiah and live lives that are consistent with this good news, they will be saved. 

But for those who remain deaf to the Word of God, there is wrath to come. There remains a penalty for crimes committed for those who reject a gracious God’s offer of pardon. Why would you remained burdened by sin and guilt? The Word said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Come and exchange burdens with a willing Savior. His is rich and free and altogether good.

The Word of God is calling.

“Repent and believe for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”