The word of Jesus is not something He spoke once so that it could be written down and then turned into stone tablets with which we could judge the world. No, the word of Jesus is such a word that it takes what is stone and turns it into something alive. When we go forth to meet men in the world with the word of Jesus, we don’t go forth in judgment, but we meet them, all of them, in the company of Jesus, who walks with us, and who walks among men to save them. It is not the day of judgment yet. It is still the day of mercy.
When Jesus sent them out two by two, He instructed them to go to every town and preach the word, and if they receive it, peace be with them, but if they reject it, then the disciples leave that town and wipe its dust from their soles, and depart. What men reject when they reject the word is not a doctrine but a person, as the Lord says, ‘whoever rejects you rejects Me, and whoever rejects Me rejects the One who sent Me.’ It is all about personal encounter, of Life with death, seeking to bring the dead to life, not about standards of right and wrong.
The world is well aware that it is living in sin, that is to say, that it is dying in its sins. It already knows the bad news, which is so well-known that it needs no one to announce it. People are imprisoned in their own wickedness and they know it. Sometimes, even when the Gatekeeper comes with the keys and opens the door for them to escape, they dare not depart from the safety of the cage, despite its stench and filth, because they are afraid of the unknown. Why do their eyes hurt? Because they have never used them before. Light hurts at first.
The people who dwell in darkness have seen a great light, on them who live in the land of shadows a light has shone. Though we have responded to the call and come out from among them, they are part of us and we are part of them, a living Body with dead limbs, that someday will be amputated if they cannot be reinvigorated with the life of the Body. But ours is not the scalple or the ax, but rather the ointment and the bandage gauze, ours is the medicine that quickens souls and brings life to the dying. The Physician is among us, not the Judge.
Come, brethren, and speak the living word to your neighbors, not what can be written with paper and ink, but the word in person, as the beloved apostles write, not words of condemnation, but words of encouragement, not to quench the smoking flax, but to blow on it till it becomes a fire, that same fire of which the Lord Jesus says, ‘I have come to bring fire to the earth. How I wish it were ablaze already!’ He is not dead, brethren, and neither are we, but alive. His ascension has revealed who He is and where He lives, not for thirty-three years and in one body, but for ever, and among us.
The word of Jesus is not living words turned to stone, but words that turn stone statues into real men. Just as He spoke it at the beginning to create all things, He speaks it in us, with us, and through us, to keep renewing the world, even unto its last day. As He told His holy apostles, ‘I am with you until the close of the age.’ Between His first and His second coming, there is nobody here but us, living words.