“You have my word!” When you hear those four little words, it’s easy to become skeptical. And why is that? I think it’s because we live in a world of broken promises, a world filled with empty vows, a world where pledges are made only to be forgotten. Assurances are given and then they’re ignored.
Words can be spoken with great fanfare. “I’ll always love you!” “Oh, we’re BFF’s. We’re best friends forever.” “Hey, you can count on me. I got you babe!” “Till death do us part.” But you know, words can be like the autumn leaves in our November’s wind. That’s why we’re a bit squeamish when someone says, “You have my word!”
This Advent season, we are going to work our way through John 1:1-18. The biggest promise in John’s introduction to his Gospel is this … “You have my Word!” John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word.” John 1:14 says, “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” If John’s first eighteen verse are about anything, they are about the Word. God’s Word. God’s Word who is the living person of Jesus Christ and we have God’s Word!
John 1:1-18 provides both a summary of John’s themes and it is the lens, the way through which we are to read everything John writes in the rest of his Gospel. Here’s a quick overview.
Jesus is the Word – God makes himself audible (John 1:1-2). God is not silent but instead God speaks. Speaks so that we can hear. Jesus is the Life – God makes himself tangible (John 1:4a). God is not some vague thought or an abstract idea! He is human flesh and is tangible. Jesus is the Light – God makes himself visible (John 1:4b-13). God is not detached or hidden in the darkness! God’s light shines for all to see him. Jesus is the Son – God makes himself knowable (John 1:14-18). God is not a mystery for us to solve. God is knowable.
Now what does all this mean? It means that because of Jesus becoming flesh, we can hear, experience, see, and know God personally. This morning’s focus is Jesus is the Word. God making himself audible.
The Word is connected to creation. “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1a). This takes us back to Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” John 1:1-5 further connects the Word, connects Jesus with Genesis 1 because John uses the same words “Life,” “light,” and “darkness.”
For instance, in Genesis 1:3, God says, “Let there be light. And there was light.” Your words can’t do that. My words can’t do that. But God’s Word can and God’s Word does. God’s Word is connected to creation. In fact, God’s Word created creation.
Let’s consider a few more verses which extol the power of God’s Word. Joshua 21:45 says, “Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD made has failed.” Isaiah 40:8, “Grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever.” Isaiah 55:11, “My word will not return to me empty.” Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” Here’s the point … the most power force in the world is God’s Word!
It is God’s Word which called Abraham to leave everything behind and follow him. It is God’s Word spoken to Moses from a burning bush which lit a fire under him to go back to Egypt. It is God’s Word which gave manna and quail in the wilderness, which thundered from Mt. Sinai. It is God’s Word which came to the prophet Elijah in a still, small voice. God’s Word even made dry bones come to life, stand on their feet, and present a vast army! Just ask Ezekiel about it. God said it and it was done and faith in God believes it! We have His Word.
The Word is connected to God. “The Word was God” (John. 1:1b). God’s powerful creating Word is more than just an utterance or an idea or a combination of letters. The Word was God. The Word is God! The Word is Jesus! Jesus isn’t just some junior partner in God’s firm, Jesus isn’t the vice president of the universe … Jesus is 100%, fully, actually, really God!
In Exodus 3:14, God tells Moses, “I Am who I Am”. To prove that Jesus is this God, the one true God, John records seven different “I am” statements. Jesus says, “I am the bread of Life” (6:35); “I am the Light of the World” (8:12); “I am the Door” (10:7); “I am the Good Shepherd” (10:14); “I am the resurrection and the Life” (11:25); “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life” (14:6); and “I am the true Vine” (15:1). The Word is connected to God. In fact, the Word is God.
The Word is connected us, to you and me. “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (1:4). The Word is connected to creation, “Let there be light. And there was light.” This Word is connected to God. In fact, the Word is God! And now, in great love for His creation, this Word, this Word connects to us, to you and me. How? As light.
One of my seminary professors tells the story about a clock he received for Christmas when he was fifteen years old. He got this squared face alarm clock. He put it on his night stand and plugged it in. He said the alarm on it could make the dogs howl all night. There was no snooze button, so to silence it he had to pick it up and throw it across the room … multiple times.
He became very attached to this alarm clock. Even to the point he took it with him to college. The reason he liked it? The light. You see, the clock glowed in the dark. When you’re in a dark room … light is your best friend.
All of us know something about dark rooms. Loneliness, depression, shame, guilt, emptiness, anger, cancer or death. Soon or later, they sneak into our room … and when they do … it becomes dark … very dark. Then, just when we are least expecting him, the Prince of Darkness slithers in, pointing his accusing finger at us. Mocking our feeble discipleship to Jesus, our failed relationships, and our fatal attractions.
But when you’re in the dark … you have the Light! “The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood/overcome it” (John 1:5). The verb for “shine” in the Greek, it’s a present tense verb. John doesn’t write, “the light shone” or “the light will shine.” No, he writes, “The light shines in the darkness.” In your darkness; in your deep darkness, in the darkest hours of your life … this light shines! And “The darkness has not understood/overcome it.”
With those last words, John prepares us for one of the darkest days, Good Friday. Nails, blood, sweat, tears, darkness. Three hours of darkness and then death. Three days later though, the light shines, present tense shines. The darkness will never overcome Jesus, the darkness will never overcome you! And why is that? We have God’s Word!
Jesus says, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. I am going there to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you” (14:27). “In this world you will have tribulation. But be of good cheer! I have overcome the world” (16:33).
Press into God’s Word! Press hard into God’s Word. When fear appears say, “But God said …”. When doubts arise say, “But God said …”. When guilt overwhelms you, say, “But God said …”. Search God’s Words like a miner digging for a great treasure. Once you find a pearl, a gem, hold on to it. Trust it. Do what I did with the promise of the pilot one night.
My National Youth Gathering flight from New Orleans to Omaha via Houston had to take a bit of a detour because of some storms. We didn’t have enough fuel to circle the airport, so we turned back and our 737 landed in Lafayette, Louisiana to refuel and wait out the storm. When we took off and they gave us our arrival time in Houston, I looked at what time our connecting flight was supposed to leave and was working on “Plan B” which was calling all the parents and explaining how we weren’t coming home that night.
Then, over the loud speaker … a word! “This is your pilot. I know many of you have tight connections. Relax. You’ll make them. We’re holding your planes.” I scrapped “Plan B”, I didn’t have to call the parents, and I quit worrying about what time it was. Relaxed getting off the plane, the group and I marched all the way to the other end of the airport terminal. Some people were in panic mode, but not us. The pilot had given me his word.
And God has given His Word to you. It’s a Word connected to creation and connected to God, all so He can be forever connected to you. Connected to you as the Light that shines in your darkness. So slow down, take a deep breath. There is no need to panic. God say, “You have my Word.” And what an awesome Word it is for his name … his name is Jesus. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus our Word and Lord, now and forever. Amen.