As with many blokes, I love things with power. Blokes, and many women of course, enjoy the benefits of power. Take for instance, the humble family car. We could be driving around in a small 3cyl Suzuki, but no, we have to buy a V8 Holden or, dare I say it, a Ford, to feel the excitement of unleashing all 250 kilowatts of power.
We love power and we love to use it, ever faster, ever higher should be our motto. Drag racers strive to go faster with their super powerful cars; cars that can now go down the ¼ mile in under 5 seconds. From a standing start, they can reach speeds in excess of 450km per hour. Wow! That’s power. Or, what about the space shuttle? Its powerful engines propel the shuttle into orbit in 8 ½ minutes during which it will reach a speed of 24,500km/h. Now that’s power.
Or is it? Our first reading this morning was about how God created the heavens and the earth. God, our Father, spoke creation into being. By the power of the word, the world as we know it came into existence. Now, I don’t know about you, but I don’t think we have seen anything as powerful as God’s word; would you agree?
I have a DVD by Louie Giglio, who examines this sort of power better than I can; let’s take a look.
When we understand the power of God’s word in scientific terms, termes we can understand, we begin to realise the immense power of God’s word. What God says happens! Creation is a living example of God’s powerful word, still being sustained by his word as he speaks new life into existence.
Yet, God creating the universe by the power of his word is not his most powerful act. The power of his word has achieved something far greater; the word of God, the same powerful word which brought the universe into existence, became flesh and lived among us in the man Jesus Christ, as St John writes ‘the Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.’
Yet, this powerful fete is still not the word’s most powerful act. No, we need to go to the end of the gospels to find that; Matthew writes ‘The angel said to the women (at the tomb) “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead’
The word of God has the power to raise the dead to life! And for us, who are dying, this is the most powerful act of God because his word raises you and me to life. We were once dead in our sins, separated from God, but now, by the power of Jesus Christ, we live a new life in him. This is real power, life changing, creating power spoken to us from the word of God himself. Remember earlier, God spoke ‘let their by light’ and it came into being? Jesus spoke to you saying ‘whoever is baptised and believes will be saved’; you are baptised, you believe –you are saved’. Now that’s the power of God’s word. What God says happens.
This is the good news we have, the incredible power of the word in us; we are raised to new life in Christ to live with him eternally, even though we die. This is the power given to us in our baptism as Luther says ‘Stated most simply, the power, effect, benefit, fruit, and purpose of baptism is to save. No one is baptized for the purpose of making him a prince, but as the words say, that he may be ‘saved’. To become saved is, as we know, nothing else than to be delivered from sins, from death, and from the devil, and to come into Christ’s kingdom and live with him forever.’
And this powerful word of God, the word which raises people from the dead, is precisely what Jesus passes on to his disciples and on to us when he says ‘All authority on heaven and earth has been given to me, go and make disciples of all nations baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them everything I have commanded you’. Jesus, the word of God, the power of God, passes on to you and me, the power of his word to raise the dead; to bring to life people who are still dead in their sins; sin which separates them from God.
Its like when your parents pass you the keys to the family car; you now have the power to get around and the freedom to use it. However, you also know, that the power does not belong to you, it has only been passed onto you for you to use; hopefully for your benefit and the benefit of others.
Jesus’ passing on of the powerful word works the same way. We don’t own it, all authority has been given to Jesus, not us. However, as we speak God’s word to people in their need, their suffering, or in their desire just to know about the hope we have, the power of the word given to us, the good news of Jesus, changes lives and raises the dead. Just as written in Hebrews ‘For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.’
Of course, the power of God’s word is always a hidden power; not dramatic or spectacular, but hidden in the soul, like a seed underground. We plant the word as we speak it and only in the future will we see the fruits of God’s word, only in the future will we witness the life changing power. For now, all we may see is small and insignificant things or perhaps nothing at all. However, the power of God’s word is indeed at work in those we speak the good news to around us. In the coming months, we as a church will be looking at how best we can enact Jesus mission command in our community and how we can best equip you to go unleash the power of God’s word in the lives of the people you know personally.
For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” and it was so, will make the light of his Son Jesus Christ shine in our hearts and in the heart our community as the gospel is proclaimed, because – what he says happens. Amen