Over the years I have written several "book" or "booklets" and many, many, many newsletter and bulletin articles. Because the book market seeks writings to meet specific needs at specific times, my material has never been accepted. I have a tendency to write what is on my mind and so I am left with self publishing. So, with the encouragement from my wife and others, I am beginning this blog in order to put my "ramblings" "out there"! I hope you enjoy!
Please note that while my intentions are to use good grammar, because of the way in which some of the material presented here is presented (orally) the grammar and syntax might not always be the best English. Also note that good theology is not always presented in the best English so there may be times when the proper grammar rules are purposely broken.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
The Tangible Word - Advent Midweek 3 - December 18, 2013 - Text: John 1:1-18
Our theme for this year is The Word. Our text is John 1:1-18. Last week we talked about the written word. This week we continue our theme as we talk about the tangible word. Next week we will take up the topic of the word incarnate, followed by the word fulfilled and on New Year’s Eve, the word in glory. As we made note last week, of course, the Word is Jesus who was at creation with the Father and the Spirit, who was promised through the oral prophecies, and later through the written prophecies. Jesus is the tangible word in His Holy Supper. He is the Word incarnate, in flesh in the person of the baby. He is the Word fulfilled in His life, death and resurrection. And He is the Word in glory, the Lamb of God enthroned in heaven. Again, this evening we take up the topic of the tangible word.
As we said last week, the way we remember is to teach and reteach, to hear the message and hear it again, thus we begin by hearing again that Jesus is the Spoken and Written Word. We have already identified Jesus as the one spoken and written about in Genesis. He is the One about who God promised to send to reconcile, to redeem, to pay the price, trading His life for the life of all, to bring all people back into a right relationship with God Himself, a relationship broken by disobedience and sin. Jesus is the One who would have His heel bruised, that is He will die on the cross, but in so having His heel bruised, He would bruise Satan’s head, He would completely defeat and destroy Satan.
And we have already identified Jesus as the one spoken and written about in the Old Testament prophecies and promises. The promise of a Savior was reiterated to Noah after the flood and the ark landed. The promise was reiterated and the line of the fulfillment of the promise was made to Abraham. The promise was reiterated to Moses as he was chosen, not only to lead the children of Israel out of bondage of slavery, but also to write down the words and promises of God which He did in the first five books of the Bible.
We have already identified Jesus as the one who came to fulfill all the law and the promises perfectly. Not only did Jesus fulfill and obey all of the civil and moral laws perfectly, never being disobedient even once, but He also fulfilled all the ceremonial laws perfectly as well. It was these ceremonial laws which were given to remind the people that the price for sin was death, that blood had to be shed and it was these laws that in fulfilling, Jesus made them obsolete. No longer do we have the ceremonial law which simply pointed to Jesus on the cross, because Jesus has already died on the cross, thus completely fulfilling those laws making them no longer necessary.
And, we have already identified Jesus as the one who came to be our substitute. In order to save us, in order to be our substitute, Jesus had to be truly human and He was, being born of the human woman, the virgin Mary, as we confess in the second article of the Apostles’ creed.
This evening we want to talk about the fact that today, Jesus is the tangible Word. What does tangible mean? To be tangible means to be something we can handle, or hold. God is Spirit. Jesus is God in flesh. After His life, suffering, death and resurrection, Jesus ascended into heaven. If Jesus has ascended into heaven, how then can we handle and hold Jesus? How can Jesus be tangible for us today?
To understand the tangibleness of Jesus we must first go back to the first Maundy Thursday, the day before Good Friday. On Maundy Thursday Jesus celebrated the Passover with His disciples. Jesus celebrated the same festival that the Jews celebrated since the angel of death passed over the blood marked houses in Egypt. Jesus ate the bitter herbs, the matzah, the lamb, and drank of the four cups of wine as prescribed by the Passover celebration. But Jesus did not simply celebrate the Passover with His disciples, rather, from the Passover He gave them and us His Holy Supper.
In the Passover, the family slaughtered the lamb, put the blood on the door post and lintel, the up and down motion and the side to side motion making the sign of the cross, a foreshadowing of the cross of Christ. The family then ate the lamb as well as the unleavened bread, standing and in haste, ready to leave Egypt. The houses that were marked with the blood of the lamb were so marked so that the angel of death passed over their houses.
Out of this Passover Seder Celebration Jesus gave His disciples and us His Holy Supper, the Lord’s Supper. In the Lord’s Supper, the slaughtered Lamb of God is Jesus Christ Himself. Jesus is the Lamb of God who shed His blood on the cross. He won forgiveness of sins for us, paying the price for sin on the cross. Now at His Holy Table He gives us His body to eat and blood to drink for forgiveness of sins so that the angel of eternal spiritual death will pass over us.
Jesus is the Word. He is the Spoken Word as we hear about Jesus, the promises and prophecies. He is the Written Word as we read about Jesus, the promises and prophecies. There truly is no denying that the one spoken about in the Old Testament is none other than the One spoken about in the New Testament, Jesus Himself, the very Word of God
Jesus is the spoken Word, the Written Word and now we understand, we see, we know that Jesus gives us Himself to handle, to hold, to eat and drink, not symbolically, but in a real presence, in, with and under the very ordinary means of the bread and wine way, connected to the very Word of God so that through our eating and drinking we participate in His life, death and resurrection. Just as the Children of Israel participated in the sacrifice by eating the sacrifice, so we participate in Jesus life, death and resurrection by eating Jesus. We participate in the sacrifice of Jesus, the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world. We participate in Jesus so that His life becomes our life. His suffering and death become our suffering and death. His resurrection and life become our resurrection and life.
We get it right, we get our theology right, we get God’s Word right, spoken, written and tangible, when we get Jesus right. It is God in flesh, God in Jesus who gives us Himself to eat and to drink. And even more than our receiving these gifts from God is the fact that we are given to. Receiving implies an act on our part, a none rejecting, which is our only option. So, take yourself out of the proposition, take yourself out of the equation. God gives and we are given to.
This recognizing, acknowledging and celebrating of the tangible Word this evening is what our whole Advent season of looking to and preparing ourselves for is all about. This evening we recognize that the celebration for which we are preparing is what the people throughout Old Testament times were awaiting. This evening we recognize that our celebration is to be a celebration of God taking on human flesh, and even more a celebration of our God giving Himself to us to eat and to drink for the forgiveness of sins, which is the greatest need we have and the greatest gift our Lord gives. Jesus is the Word, the spoken Word, the Written Word, the tangible Word in flesh. God gives us Himself in the person of Jesus. Jesus gives Himself to eat and drink, to handle and hold, to partake for the forgiveness of sins. To God be the glory, for Jesus’ sake. Amen.