A word is dead
When it is said,
I say it just
Begins to live
Emily Dickinson's little poem expresses the Biblical understanding of the Word. The Word is a lively, active reality that enters the world and accomplishes its work. When Jesus finished reading the words of the prophet Isaiah in his hometown synagogue and sat down, I imagine everyone expected him to expound on the text, or say a few words about the prophet. Instead, Jesus says, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."
Can you imagine the audacity of that claim? Jesus declares, "Today, right now, in your ears, in front of your eyes, this word has become flesh. Not in some abstract, generic, ethereal way, but in a concrete, fleshly, specific way. I am the One, I am the good news you have been waiting for." Such audacity was too much for the hometown crowd and they tried to throw him over a cliff to shut him up. But it was too late. The word was out and about, already doing its work.
Think of the words you have spoken (both good and bad) that have shaped your relationships and your reality. Think of the Good News words we hear Sunday after Sunday: "In the name of Christ and by his authority, I declare to you the entire forgiveness of all your sins." And "the body of Christ, broken for you; the blood of Christ, shed for you." Those are powerful, active words that accomplish God's will in our lives. Words are powerful. When you receive them, expect to be changed. When you speak them, handle with care!
Luke 4:14-21 (NRSV)
14 Then Jesus, filled with the power of the Spirit, returned to Galilee, and a report about him spread through all the surrounding country.
15 He began to teach in their synagogues and was praised by everyone.
16 When he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up, he went to the synagogue on the sabbath day, as was his custom. He stood up to read,
17 and the scroll of the prophet Isaiah was given to him. He unrolled the scroll and found the place where it was written:
18 "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free,
19 "to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor."
20 And he rolled up the scroll, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him.
21Then he began to say to them, "Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing."