Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Can I Get an Amen?

John 5:15-25 "The man went away and told the Jews that it was Jesus who had healed him. (16) And this was why the Jews were persecuting Jesus, because he was doing these things on the Sabbath. (17) But Jesus answered them, "My Father is working until now, and I am working." (18) This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God. (19) So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise. (20) For the Father loves the Son and shows him all that he himself is doing. And greater works than these will he show him, so that you may marvel. (21) For as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, so also the Son gives life to whom he will. (22) The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, (23) that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. (24) Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (25) "Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming, and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live." (ESV)

I believe every jot & tittle of Scripture is both inspired & purposed. There is a reason for every seeming difficulty in diction therein. One such difficulty is posed by the translation of the original words for Jesus’ oft-quoted introduction “truly, truly” (also “verily, verily” in some versions). In fact, no translation is necessary; only a transliteration, for the word is the same in English as it is in Hebrew & Greek - the word is “amen”. “Amen” is used throughout the Bible, the Church, & even greater society as an affirmation or an exclamatory witness of a prior statement.

The normative usage of “amen” is dictated by it’s most common definition- “so be it”. Such usage is founded upon & characterized by such passages as Deuteronomy 27:15ff. God, or God’s witness (a priest or prophet) makes a statement & the hearers accept & verify it as true by responding with “amen”. All the Gospels & most other NT writings close with this word as well, using it likewise- as an agreement, a confirmation, or a witness to the truth of a testimony.

But the primary usage of “amen” by Jesus in the Gospels is an Scriptural & cultural oddity; it is introductory & lacks any backward reference to a previous proclamation. This is why our Bibles use other words as a substitute. “Amen” does not seem to fit Jesus’ application of it. The problem is that we fail to see His purpose. Jesus used the word in prefatory fashion to affirm His own utterances, not those of someone else. He founds the veracity of His words upon the strength of His own witness. And that further drives home the point of John 5- He speaks as One who has the authority in Himself to speak things into being. Jesus retains all the full sovereignty of God- for He Himself is a prime mover, a creative cause.

Unlike mere men, Jesus, being God, is able to witness His statements as true Himself, before they are even uttered. Anything God speaks is either already a reality beforehand, or becomes a reality as it is spoken (regardless of whether or not the evidence is immediately manifest to our senses). Genesis 1 attests to the power of God’s spoken word. Ten times God spoke, & ten times tremendous things became manifest. Mankind has a ready witness to that time & God’s existence by the order & splendor of the universe. The pagan’s perfunctory proposal of a “big bang” without prior causation defies reason. All things, from the micro to the macroscopic, have come into order, & this is in opposition to the second law of thermodynamics, given the atheistic view of the universe as an entropically closed system.

Likewise, by prefacing His most pivotal statements with a word defined as “so be it”, Jesus rests our hope of what He says following- on the assuredness of what He has done previously. As God incarnate, He needs no further witness to corroborate His testimony, save for His past demonstrations of utterly comprehensive Godliness- His miraculous power merged with His magnificent character. For example, consider His healing of the paralytic paired with His righteous rebuke of that man’s sinfulness in the first half of John 5; this was foundational to His children’s acceptance of His challenging claims in the second half of the chapter. The OT paints a portrait of God as a Person who hates sin, but simultaneously loves His sinful children. Jesus' actions bear out a testimony that He is that God.

Though He does go to on speak of other witnesses to the truthfulness of what He says. He mentions John the Baptist in verse 33. But then in 36, He returns to founding His word upon His best & most faithful witness- God Himself. In John 8, Jesus speaks further on the strength of the Father’s testimony. Then in John 16, He speaks of the Holy Spirit’s confirmation:

John 16:13-15 "But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. (14) He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. (15) All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you." (ESV)

Jesus says the Father & the Holy Spirit are the Ones who will add the “amen” postscript to His word & deed. God empowers us with a mighty faith as all three Persons of the Trinity of God bear testimony to our hearts, bookending His promises with amens front & back, saying "so be it” to our very soul.

2Corinthians 1:20 "For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us" (KJV)

Rev 3:14 "And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: 'The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God's creation...' " (ESV)


Even So... said...


MrsEvenSo... said...

The Word became flesh and dwelt among us! Hallelujah and Amen!

Zoarean said...

Thanks! And I like that new avatar, MrsEvenSo!

Even So... said...