Listen for the Word in the Word
In last Sunday’s exhortation, Pastor Jonathan encouraged us to make fresh efforts to saturate our lives in God’s word this year, and reminded us of three truths when we read the Bible:
- There is a God.
- He speaks through his Book.
- He speaks to people like us.
This morning let’s tie this charge in with our five-week sermon series on the person and work of Christ.
In last week, in the first message of the series, we celebrated the incarnation, that God became man. Jesus is the God-man, fully God and fully man in one spectacular person. Two whole natures in one undivided person. What is the relationship, then, between the exhortation to read the Bible and the sermon about the God who became man?
Or you might ask it like this: What is the relationship between the word of God (the Scriptures) and the Word of God (Jesus)? Remember, John 1:1 calls Jesus the Word, capital W. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word with God.”
We touched on this just briefly last week, but I thought it might help to make it more explicit, and hopefully applicable, today. Jesus is called the Word, capital W, because he is the final, decisive, culminating self-revelation of God. God has communicated with humanity so fully and richly and deeply, that his word to us is not just a word spoken, but a Word embodied. Jesus is the Word because he is the fullness of what it means for God to express himself to us, to reveal himself, to communicate himself for us and for our salvation. Jesus “has made the Father known” (John 1:18).
So, then, what we need to keep in view when we come to God’s word (the Bible) is that the word of God rightly understood leads to the Word of God greatly adored. The Bible is a long, diverse, sometimes complex Book, which really can be summed up in one short, unified, simple Word, Jesus. Which doesn’t mean we don’t need the full Book. Oh how much we do — without all the textures and tastes of grace and truth, our conception of the Word, capital W, will be inadequate and empty. But what it does mean is that when we come to the Bible, we know at least one thing we’re looking for: Jesus. It’s not application. It’s not tips for better living. It’s not catchy statements for social-media memes. We come as hungry sinners, desperately in need of a satisfying Savior.
Another way to say it is that we’re looking for the message about Jesus, called the gospel. Also called “the word.” Actually, the most common way “word” is used in the New Testament is in reference to the gospel “word” — the message that Jesus saves sinners.
So let’s put it all together like this: Listen for the Word in the word in the word. Listen for Jesus, in the message of the gospel, in the written word of the Scriptures. Don’t be like the Jews in John 5, who had memorized more Scripture than many of us have even read, and yet when Jesus stood before him, they rejected him, and he said to them,
You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:39–40)
May it never be said of us, that we would “search the Scriptures” and yet refuse to come to Jesus for life, because we think our effort and diligence can provide for our own life. May it never be that we would read the word in such a way as to miss the gospel word and the incarnate Word.
So as we seek to saturate our life and family in the word of God in 2016, listen with me for the Word, Jesus, in the word, gospel, in the word, Scripture.
Prayer of Confession
Father in heaven, we confess we have often come to the Bible, as we have come to church, on the lookout for just about anything but Jesus. We come looking for tips to improve our lives, or ways to make ourselves feel better. We have come looking to check to the box of religiosity, without bowing our hearts to the one it all points to. We have come wanting to maintain control of our own lives, rather than relinquish control to Christ. We come to make a transaction, thinking we can secure your favor, to prop up the mistress desires our hearts have run to.
We repent and turn to your Son. Yes, he is the one who will ultimately improve our lives and truly make us feel better — but all in his perfect timing, not ours. All in his sovereign control, not ours. Give us Jesus, we beg. In our morning readings, in our family devotions, in our intentional conversations, and in our worship gatherings. And give us the wherewithal in him, to stand with two feet in the gospel as we confess our sins to you, in the silence of this moment. . . .