A Way With Words

(Note: Kudos to our worship team @ 11am for pulling off an INCREDIBLE version of "Jesus take the wheel! Ya'll are a true blessing, thank you so much for leading us in worship.)

I shared with a friend about the series I was preaching on words and communication. He shared with me a story of a bird he got for his birthday one year…(if you’ve already heard this story, I’d love to know our mutual friend).
He received a parrot for his birthday. This parrot was fully grown with a bad attitude and worse vocabulary. Every other word was an expletive. Those that weren't expletives were, to say the least, rude.
He tried hard to change the bird's attitude and was constantly saying polite words, playing soft music, and anything else that came to mind. Nothing worked. He yelled at the bird and the bird got worse. He shook the bird and the bird got madder and ruder.
Finally, in a moment of desperation, he put the parrot in the freezer. For a few moments he heard the bird squawking, kicking and screaming and then, suddenly, all was quiet. He was frightened that he might have actually hurt the bird, and quickly opened the freezer door.
The parrot calmly stepped out onto his extended arm and said, "I'm sorry that I offended you with my language and actions. I ask for your forgiveness." He was astounded at the bird's change in attitude and was about to ask what changed him when the parrot continued, "May I ask what the chicken did?"

When different things are combined we find the results create something new: chocolate and peanut butter=reeses, lamps and portability=flashlight, bird and words=annoying. To be in a relationship it usually means we need to have another person and words.

Last fall I had a sense something was missing in my relationship with Jesus. As I reflected and prayed, I realized I really didn’t know Jesus, not like I wanted. I have been following Jesus for a long time, have had daily times in prayer but there was something else – I felt a longing to know him better. I began a plan of taking a Gospel, one of the four stories of Jesus, and spending the year reading from it everyday over and over. One of the things I’ve noticed as I’ve lived with Jesus this year, is his way with words.

After Jesus was crucified and came to life again from the dead, he came across a couple of his disciples on the road from Jerusalem to Emmaus. They didn’t recognize Jesus so he had opportunity to enter into conversation with them regarding the resurrection. They really didn’t get what had happened. Luke records,
And he said to them,
"O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?" And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. So they drew near to the village to which they were going. He acted as if he were going farther, but they urged him strongly, saying, "Stay with us, for it is toward evening and the day is now far spent." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at table with them, he took the bread and blessed and broke it and gave it to them. And their eyes were opened, and they recognized him. And he vanished from their sight. They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road, while he opened to us the Scriptures?" (Luke 24:25-32 ESV)

Jesus had a way with words that caused hearts to burn, emotions to rise and inspire people to action. Jesus set the tone with his words in the very beginning as he reached out to humanity. It was a combining of two different characteristics which gave the ability to communicate to everyone.

In Luke’s biography of Jesus, Jesus’ ministry began in his home town. Here he read from the scroll of Isaiah. And all were speaking well of Him, and wondering at the gracious words which were falling from His lips; and they were saying, "Is this not Joseph's son?" Luke 4:22) And then they tried to throw him of a cliff. Jesus went on to Caprernaum to teach again. Here, They were all amazed at the way he taught, because he spoke with authority. Luke 4:32 GNB)

As Luke records then, Jesus spoke with both grace and authority. He spoke words that at times were filled with a sense of kindness and wisdom, and people wanted him dead. He spoke at times with influence, in a way that moved people to action, and they didn’t want him to leave.

Jesus’ combination of speaking with grace and authority set the tone for all he was teaching and all he was doing. That reputation went before Him into the surrounding areas. However, in all that he spoke it was with one purpose: "I must preach the Good News about the Kingdom of God in other towns also, because that is what God sent me to do." Luke 4:43 GNB)

But I really like the way the guys on the road to Emmaus said it best, “They said to each other, "Did not our hearts burn within us…?” Wasn’t our soul, our middle, our guts, consumed by Jesus’ way with words? They had even heard it before and must have felt the same burning. When we hear Jesus speak, something in our hearts burns. Could it be it burns because the Holy One is speaking the fallen ones? Could it be this was how our hearts were created to feel all the time?

We do not speak like that though it seems our words should come to reflect the same grace and authority. But Jesus’ combination set up what was the single most important thing He came for: to speak about the Kingdom of God. In His way with words, Jesus spoke of hope: we are loved by God and can be made whole. When Jesus spoke of the Kingdom of God, He was asking the question, “Are you letting me take the wheel? Does God rule your life?” Not, do you believe in heaven, but do we love God? And if we love God, do we love our neighbor?

With grace and authority, Jesus lived among us and spoke to us to clarify for us, the Kingdom isn’t just “up there” (in the sky) but “in here” (in our hearts) and it is lived “out there” (in our world).

I’ve been trying to listen not just to Jesus’ words but His way with words. I’m convinced that as He lives in me, Jesus is changing me as I ask, “Do my words reflect a grace and authority like Jesus? How about my life? Do our words reflect a grace and authority? Do our lives reflect God’s grace and authority? Are we coming to love God and love our neighbor? Jesus had a way with words, which made for us a way to know God. Are our words showing the way for others?

May I Ask: When was the last time you heard Jesus' voice? How did He sound to you?

May I Suggest: Set aside time to read from a Gospel (Mark is great because it is the shortest and will take just over two weeks if you read one chapter a day). Read it to get to know Jesus, and His way with words. I'd love to hear what you learn so write it here in two weeks!


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