Monday, July 26, 2010

"Power in the Spoken Word"

Guest blogger, Stan Nussbaum, takes us on a journey through the messianic year calendar.

Welcome to the journey of our Messiah through the year with Dr. Nussbaum.

“When he woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the water, ‘Quiet down!’ Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm.” Mk. 4:39 (NLT)

Last week we looked at the incredible privilege and power of speaking into our situations in the name of Jesus. However, we did not deal with an underlying problem that may keep us from speaking that way. We are part of a culture that says words are merely words. If anyone suggests that words can carry unseen power, we brush it off as superstition or science fiction. “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

We need a reminder that the Messiah does not share our culture’s view. He says, “Let there be light,” and there is light. (Gen. 1:3) He says, “Quiet down!” and the rowdy storm quiets down. (Mk. 4:39) He says, “Your servant is healed,” and the centurion’s servant is healed back at his master’s house. (Mk. 8:5-13) And he will win earth’s final battle with “the sword of his mouth” (Rev. 19:15), that is, just by speaking. The power of his word is vastly more than the power of suggestion.

When someone has that kind of power, it is amazing that he does not use it immediately for total control. He could eliminate cancer, war, poverty, and environmental pollution in a flash. All he has to do is say the word. So why didn’t Jesus say it or why don’t we say it in his name?

Why does he use his power against evil selectively instead of comprehensively and absolutely? Because he has another way of speaking, a way that does not force things to happen. This other way is kingly proclamation.

A proclamation makes something official but the thing may not actually happen until the people who hear the proclamation believe it and start living accordingly. For example, the Emancipation Proclamation declared that slaves in non-Union states would become free on January 1, 1863, but those slaves were not functionally free until two years later when the Union won the war and could enforce the proclamation.

Jesus also made a proclamation. We totally underestimate the importance of that fact. Issuing the proclamation was the reason he was sent into the world. (Lk. 4:43) Publicizing the proclamation was what he sent his followers to do all over Israel during his ministry. (Mk. 10:5-8) His claim to have authority to issue the proclamation is what led directly to his trial, sentencing, and execution. (Mt. 26:63-68)

Exactly what was his proclamation?
“The reign of God is beginning!”
(Mt. 4:17, my translation)
Unlike Lincoln, Jesus could have enforced his proclamation from the day he first announced it but he didn’t. He gave people a chance to welcome it.
“The time is fulfilled. The reign of God is beginning. Turn and welcome the good news!”
(Mk. 1:15, my translation)

The proclamation was accompanied by other signs done through his words of power, like speaking to the storm. Those signs were enough to convince some people that his kingdom or reign was beginning but not enough to impose it on the unwilling. The Jewish leaders were sure the prophets had said the real Messiah would impose his control on everyone, especially the unwilling. Jesus fell far short of their messianic expectations.

The situation is the same for us today. When we speak in Jesus’ name, we continue to signal his arriving reign without imposing it. The effects of the power of his name give people a preview of what the world will look like when “his kingdom comes and his will is done.” It is not enough of a preview to compel the unwilling but it is plenty of evidence for those with eyes to see.

Welcome: Jesus our Messiah, we have heard your proclamation, and it is the best news ever. You and all your words are welcome here.

Affirmation: Jesus is the first word, the last word, and every word that matters in between.



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