[Part 2 of 4] How Does Worship Change Your Life?–John 3:9-15
Christians largely agree that God’s Word is important. More than this, a faithful Christian will confess that God’s Word is inerrant. Part of the dilemma we face as Christians is the culture’s overwhelming denial of God’s Word, and I believe a sliver of this (perhaps more) comes from how we speak about His Word.
First, God’s Word is not simply ink on a few hundred pages–that is not in fact God’s Word. Nor, is it the original Hebrew and Greek or the English translation which is written for our reading, hearing and learning. And, to that end, it is not any other language which has the Holy Bible written in their vernacular. God’s Word is living, breathing, and finds its source and essence in the real person Jesus Christ. If they were mere words on a page, what authority would they have? None! But, if in fact Jesus is the “Word made flesh” (John 1:1, 14) then the words we read from the Bible have an eternal and everlasting value. This makes it unique and unlike any other “book,” when you read from God’s Word you are in fact peering into the very incarnational flesh and blood Jesus. This reality ties the whole of Scripture, from the Old and the New testaments together, isn’t this why we say that the whole of Scripture points to Jesus because he is Scripture! As a tangent, this is also another way of acknowledging Christ in communion, if He is the Word made flesh, then when he tells us to eat and drink his body and blood does it not follow that we are actually eating and drinking the Word–the Word made flesh (body and blood) Jesus? I would certainly say so!
The second, and emphasis of today’s post, is becoming formed by the liturgy. In the Divine Service specifically, if you are a Missouri Lutheran, note that our Lutheran Service Book has Scripture references everywhere. Almost every line of our liturgies have their origin in Scripture. Even if you are not a Missouri Lutheran you can appreciate that worship which takes what God has spoken in flesh and spirit, and making it your own by speaking it back to him. The Lord delights in hearing truth, what better way than to use his own truth-filled Word to worship!
Worship effectively transforms our lives by this Living Word. This is where, in conclusion, we can turn to John 3:9-15 and see how the Word made flesh fares before the teacher of Israel, Nicodemus. He is not unlike our present 24/7 connected culture which oddly enough struggles to understand God’s Word, though the knowledge of the world is at their fingertips. Jesus laments over Nicodemus and others like him who do not receive the testimony concerning him, that is, the Word which prophesied of the coming Messiah and its fulfillment in their hearing and before their eyes. Indeed like our world of self-described know-it-all techies, the witness of Christ in all its clarity is harder to believe than the newest tweet from the latest celebrity gossip magazine.
Jesus finally gives it to Nicodemus what he has come to do. To die and be crucified, Jesus takes the place of Moses’ bronze serpent and dies with the weight of the sins which the serpent Satan tempted Adam and Eve, and now is the poison of the whole world. The Word made flesh mercifully is lifted up, upon the cross, to redeem the world. The Word made flesh dies to take away the sins of the world. The Word made flesh dies because there is no one else to whom we can go. Only his perfection is full of steadfast and abounding love. Give thanks to The Lord, call upon his name, for his body is the vessel, the cup, of salvation. But more on that next time.