So what do we mean when we say that Jesus is the word of life, the wisdom of life, the logos of life, God’s divine logic of life? We mean that Jesus is the translation of God’s love logic, his divine logic, into human form so that we can understand him. This is what the second sign in John’s gospel points to. That this divine logic, this love logic, this eternal word made flesh, has become a person in Jesus Christ. And that to believe in Jesus is to believe that Jesus is the revelation of what God is like.
So the sign is not just that Jesus can do miracles. The sign is going “Right there! Right there! Right there! Right there he is! Jesus! That is the word of life!” That is the word that God has spoken into a sin-sick world to make everyone that believes in him well. God has sent his word to heal us, and that word is Jesus, because Jesus is what God has to say. Learn that, that Jesus is what God has to say.
This helps us to understand what the Bible really is. The Bible is the spirit inspired, ultimate true sign that points us true to the true word of God who is Jesus. The Bible is not an end in itself. There is a sense in which you don’t put your faith in the Bible, you put your faith in what the Bible points yout to. You put your faith in Jesus.
Is there a difference? Yes. A huge difference. Isn’t it six in one, half dozen in the other? No. It’s twelve in one, zero in the other. Because the Bible can’t save you. The eternal word of God that saves us is not a theory. It’s not an idea. It’s not even a book. It’s a flesh and blood person named Jesus Christ. What the Bible does, it’s the ultimate spirit inspired sign pointing to Jesus. If you’ve missed that, you’ve missed a whole lot. Kind of like everything…
Let’s look at what Jesus himself says about this, talking to people who know their bibles quite well. They have bible studies, study aids, everything. “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.” John 5:39-40 ESV. I’m about to get some people upset here. But get this – the Bible can actually be the cleverest way for us to avoid the Word of God. You’ve got the book, you read the book, your nose is in the book, studying the book, memorizing the book, the book, the book, the book, and you haven’t figured out the book is a sign pointing to me. Imagine Jesus, he can stand right in front of me, and I can keep my nose buried in my Bible, and I can avoid Jesus.
The Bible is a true witness pointing to Jesus. But here’s the problem with the Bible – it’s still a book. And you can make the Bible say whatever you want to say. You can make the Bible stand on its hind legs and dance a jig. Go back 150 years, when of the Bible believing Christians of America, most of them believed that God endorsed slavery. Because if you’re just going to use your Bible, it’s “There is it is right there! In the Old Testament and the New Testament too! Slaves obey your masters! Uh-huh!! The Bible says it, I believe it, that settles it!”
So, how many of you believe that the living God, the living Christ, has something to say about slavery other than Slaves obey your masters? Hello!!?? If we want, we can just use the Bible, make it stand on its hind legs and dance a jig. We can do that with the Bible, but we can’t do that with the living Christ. You stand before the living Christ and tell him to roll over and dance a jig for you, he just looks at you with His eyes of fire and says no!
This is what writer of Hebrews is talking about when he says “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” Hebrews 4:12-13 ESV. In talking about the word of God that is living and active and able to judge and reach down and penetrate into the deepest parts of us, and the word to whom we must give an account, the writer of Hebrews is not talking about the Bible. It’s in the Bible, these words are in the Bible. But it’s not talking about the Bible, it’s talking about Jesus.
This may be new stuff to you. It’s new stuff you need. Again go back 150 years. The majority of the devout, religious, bible believing, amen, hallelujah, my sins are forgiven, church going, love Jesus, dying and going to heaven, people of the time supported, aggressively, slavery and defended it with the Bible. They were willing to go to war defending slavery, believing God was on their side, because they had been able to use the Bible. If they had been engaging with the living Christ they would have known better. What they did was use the Bible to hide from Jesus.
That’s history, but here’s a modern example. An extensive Gallup survey from a few years ago was done. Should the United States government use torture in the interrogation of suspected terrorists. Of course, torture is against the law of our land. So now we call it “enhanced interrogation?” Exactly how are we enhancing it???
So the question is, should the United States break its own laws and torture suspected terrorists. A majority of Americans said. A majority of Catholics said no. A majority of Lutherans said no. A majority of mainline Protestants said no. Majorly of Jews said no. Majority of non religious said no. Majority of atheists said no.
A majority of evangelicals said “yes”. There’s a problem here. The people who most self identify as being all about the Bible, bible, bible, “What does the Bible say about the use of torture?” Nothing. So it must be ok, praise God! “So it’s ok with me!” The Bible says nothing about the use of torture. But the living Christ has much to say, if you have ears to hear. Even the agnostic, or the “non”, may not spend time studying the Bible, but they have heard enough of Jesus that they have an idea of what Jesus is like. The word of God has been spoken into the world, and they can not imagine Jesus standing in a room torturing somebody say “Talk, you filthy scum, talk! Or I’ll waterboard you again!” Maybe that’s not what we ought to do either. But if we hide behind the Bible, we can imagine this is right…
Don’t be a modern version of a confederate Christian from 150 years ago, using the Bible to prevent yourself from hearing what God has to say. What would Jesus do? You can’t always know what Jesus would do, but sometimes it’s clear what Jesus wouldn’t do, isn’t it? The Bible can’t say everything, or it would be bigger than this house I’m sitting in right now. But the living Christ can speak constantly into our lives and world, if we will engage with him. He is the living word, sharper than a two edged sword. He is the one with eyes like fire. He is the one to whom we have to give an account.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you, the living word breathes out. Sometimes we just have to work that out…
“So he came again to Cana in Galilee, where he had made the water wine. And at Capernaum there was an official whose son was ill. When this man heard that Jesus had come from Judea to Galilee, he went to him and asked him to come down and heal his son, for he was at the point of death. So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my child dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and went on his way. As he was going down, his servants met him and told him that his son was recovering. So he asked them the hour when he began to get better, and they said to him, “Yesterday at the seventh hour the fever left him.” The father knew that was the hour when Jesus had said to him, “Your son will live.” And he himself believed, and all his household. This was now the second sign that Jesus did when he had come from Judea to Galilee.”
John 4:46-54 ESV