Words, they’re so simple yet so very powerful. Think about it. Think of those times when you were inspired to do something you’d never considered possible before. Think about the times when you’ve been hurt to the quick of your soul.
What gave you that inspiration? What hurt you so bad that you wanted crawl into a corner and die? I’ll wager that it was someone’s word or words that resulted in the inspiration or the hurt. Words have so much power and yet no one has asked for a ban on them or a background check before anyone can use them. No one has to pay for a license before they can use something as simple, yet so powerful, as a word.
Today’s lessons from the Scriptures are words. Words written by prophets, psalmists; letters written to the churches, the Good News, the Gospel, written for God’s chosen ones, the Jews, written to the others, the Gentiles. Words written by men and women inspired by God. Words that have survived longer than anyone ever imagined they would; words that still inspire people, you and me.
When Jesus was baptized in the Jordan River by John after the Spirit of God descended upon Him like a dove, God spoke…words. “You are my Son, chosen and marked by my love, pride of my life.” Words…from God.
These words came to Jesus as he was using words…praying to his Father. What did these words do? What did Jesus do after he was baptized? He was led by the Spirit into the wilderness where he was tempted by the devil, tempted by…words.
The prophet, Isaiah, reminds us that God created Jacob, Israel, you, and me, and everything we see around us. How’d that happen? God spoke… words and there they were.
How does anyone know what God requires of them? He speaks to them with…words; words that we read and hear from his Scriptures; words that he speaks to us when we’re in our quiet places. He calls to us, he summons us with…words.
What do we need in order to have life? Food you say? No, “man doesn’t live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord (Deut. 8:3).” What did God ask Moses to have his people do? He told them, “Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds…teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates (Deut. 11:18-20).”
Words…the psalmist for today tells us that the “voice” of the Lord is powerful, majestic. It thunders and breaks the cedars of Lebanon, sets the desert to shaking. The voice of the Lord strikes with lightning. Words…from God have power.
Paul, the least of the apostles, used…words…to spread the Good News to the Gentiles in Asia. He used…words…in his epistles, his letters to the churches he helped plant, words…just letters put together to make words, just a sound that comes from our mouths as the air flows over vocal chords and past tongues and through lips…words.
Words…so simple, yet so very powerful, especially when spoken by God or with His authority. John was using words as he prepared the way for the Messiah, Jesus. These words had power that scared people, upset people. Words that ended with John being arrested and thrown into prison. Words…made folks wonder if he was the Promised One.
He wasn’t. He said someone more powerful was coming after him. Someone he wasn’t fit to kneel and untie his sandals. Someone who also used the power of…words.
You know who I’m talking about, Jesus. The authorities in power thought by killing him the words would stop and their power would be destroyed. It didn’t.
The Word’s words survived and are as powerful as ever today. His words are why you’re here this morning.
Words…are spoken at the baptismal font. Words…are spoken when we celebrate the Eucharist. Just words…but they have so much power. They have the power to transform, to change, to redeem those who hear them or read them.
Just words…but they have power, especially when the come from the One who really knows the power of the Word.
It all began with a word… “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1).”
Thanks be to God for his grace-filled word. Amen.