Summary: Jesus is everything God has ever wanted to say to the world.
Christmas Eve, 2008
Texts: Heb. 1:1-12; Jn. 1:1-14
The Rev. Jerry Kistler
St. Stephen’s Reformed Episcopal Church
“God has spoken… And the Word was made flesh”
God who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.”
What an amazing passage of Scripture this is, full of deep and wondrous statements of theological truth. But beneath all the words and glorious phrases of these opening sentences of the Book of Hebrews lies a very simple but very profound truth, and it’s just this: that God has spoken. God has spoken.
You know, from time immemorial man has been a mountain builder, building his Towers of Babel, his ziggurats, his sacred pyramids, to try to climb up to heaven to see what God is like, to know something of who God is, and to receive some authoritative word from on high to make sense of his world, and to find some guidance on how to live his life. Don’t we all long for and often seek an authoritative word when we’re trying to figure things out in our lives! When we’re sick, what do we do? We go to a doctor to get the authoritative word about what’s wrong with us, and what we need to do to get better. Some of us will be going home from this service tonight to try to figure out how to put together those toys for the kids that say on the box “some assembly required.” So what do we hope for? That the guy packing the box didn’t forget to include the set of authoritative instructions on how to put the darn thing together. When we try to figure out our taxes during tax season, we want the authoritative word of a CPA or someone else who knows the tax-law – which is completely beyond knowing by most mortals - so we can pay the right amount and not incur a penalty. You see, all aspects of our lives are governed and guided by authoritative words. So with regard to the larger issues of life - the meaning of life, where we come from, and where we’re going, who God is, and who we are in relationship to Him, and how we may come to have eternal life – isn’t it truly a wonderful thing that the greatest authority in the universe, God, has spoken and given us His Word?
But if God has indeed spoken, what does He have to say? Well, when you add up everything God has ever spoken to mankind, He really has only one Word to say to us, and that one Word is “Jesus.” Jesus is everything God has ever wanted to say to mankind. The whole Bible - God’s Word - from Genesis to Revelation is about Jesus. The Law of God is fulfilled by Jesus. All of the ceremonies and feasts and sacrifices pointed forward to Jesus. All of the prophets prophesied about the coming of Jesus. The whole experience of the nation of Israel is summed up in the person of Jesus, the One true Israelite. All of the Wisdom of God, the Proverbs and the Psalms, find their embodiment in Jesus. It’s all about Jesus. Jesus is God’s Word to the world.
But then when we go over to our lesson from the Gospel of John, we find something truly amazing. We find that God’s Word is God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
Now the Jews of the John’s day would have understood this passage a lot better than we do, because it was written in their vernacular, in their idiom - and not in the Greek idiom, by the way, but actually in the Aramaic idiom (Aramaic being the language that Jesus and John and the rest of the apostles spoke), although it was translated into Greek by John in His Gospel. Because you see, in the Targums, the Aramaic paraphrases of the Scriptures by the great rabbis, which were read in the synagogues as authoritative in John and Jesus’ day, every place in the Old Testament where God reveals Himself to man, the Targums read, instead of “God,” “The Word of God.” So, for example, instead of Moses speaking to the Lord in the burning bush, the Targums read that Moses spoke to “the Word of the Lord” in the burning bush. “And the Word of the Lord said to Moses, ‘I am He who said unto the world, “Be!” and it was’” (Ex. 3:4 Jonathan Targum). Rather than saying the people went out into the desert to meet God, the Targums say that the people went out to meet the Word of God. Instead of saying “the Lord was revealed to Abraham between the divided parts of the animals, the Targums say “The Word of the Lord was revealed to Abraham between the divided parts.” Again in the Targums, Hosea 1:7 reads, “But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Word of the Lord, their God.”