When God Preaches

It is a rare moment when God the Father speaks directly in Scripture. God prefers the use of prophets and messengers to send His word into the world. As Hebrews 1:1 tells us, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets.” Prophets are the way God most often chooses to speak His Word to His people throughout the Old Testament, but there are a few moments when the Father breaks the veil and interacts directly with His people. We hear the Father speak in the beginning when His Word goes forth into nothingness and creates. He speaks to Moses as He gives him the Ten words and the Law on Mt. Sinai. We hear the Father speak to Job and his friends as he cuts through the cries of Job’s petitions. These are a few of the rare moments that God speaks directly, when it is written “Ko Amar Yahweh’ (Thus Says the Lord), we ought to pay attention. 

Throughout the Gospel of Mark, there are moments when the people including the disciples do not understand who he is. As Jesus is healing, everyone is looking for him, and he leaves to go preach in another town as it seems the disciples do not realize how Jesus will accomplish his mission. Before the Transfiguration Jesus asks his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Peter confesses that Jesus is the son of God yet immediately after he rejects what Jesus says must happen regarding his death. It appears that while the disciples are spending so much time with Jesus, they aren’t listening to him. So there, on the mountain, Jesus is transfigured, his robes are radiant, and as a cloud covers him, we hear God speak. What does he do? He preaches a sermon that points to Jesus. “This is my son, whom I love. Listen to him!”

We don’t like to listen. We haven’t changed much since Adam and Eve who heard God’s word and instead opted to go along with the serpent who said, “Did God say?” We haven’t changed much since Peter who heard Jesus predict his death and scoff as he rejected what he said. He didn’t listen. So, God who once spoke through His prophets now affirms who Jesus has said he is, this is the Son of God, listen to him. As Hebrews 1 continues, “but in these last days, He has spoken to us by His Son.” Yet, the questioning continues. Did God really say marriage was between one man and one woman? Did God really say to obey the government? Did God really say lust is adultery? Did God really say to repent? Did God really say this is my body and this is my blood? 

When we don’t listen to God, we listen to someone else. Generally, this means we are listening to ourselves, the false god that we have created and love to serve. It is far easier, and more comfortable to listen to ourselves. Yet, when we listen to ourselves, we get into trouble. Life takes dark turns. We hurt the ones we love and break relationships. We look for fulfillment in places that will never fill us. We doubt God’s love and forgiveness and strive to earn our way towards heaven leaving us anxious and afraid. When we listen to ourselves Satan turns our minds against us sewing seeds of doubt. We begin to wonder if God could ever truly love a disgusting, wretched, sinner like me. So, God preaches a sermon. He says, look at Jesus, this is my Son whom I love. Listen to him. 

When you listen to Jesus you will hear God’s truth. The truth that says, “Repent and believe the good news!” This news says in baptism, “I have called you by name, you are mine.” This news says, “This baptism now saves you.” This news says, “Go and sin no more.” This news says, “This is my body, this is my blood, for you.” This news says, “It is finished.” This news says, “I was dead, now I am alive.” This news says, “You are forgiven.” This news says, “I go to prepare a place for you.” This news says, “I am coming soon.” When God preaches He points to Jesus, and when Jesus speaks, we ought to listen.