January 2009 - Vol. 26

Jesus, the Word of Life

by Don Schwager

Words have impact – they have power to change hearts and the course of lives, and to mobilize citizens, armies, and global communities. Words can build up or tear down, bless or curse.

We can see a dramatic example of the power of words in JRR Tolkien’s epic work, The Lord of the Rings. In Part Two, The Two Towers, chapter six (portrayed in the movie version as well), we hear how Saruman, who allied himself with the dark Lord of Mordor, was able to weaken the defenses of the kingdom of Rohan by securing the allegiance of King Theoden’s chief counselor, named Grima Wormtongue. King Theoden had been a courageous defender of the free West. But Wormtongue succeeded in weaving a web of deception around the king and his court. As Theoden came under the spell of Wormtongue, the king physically lost his vitality and was crushed in spirit. He became an unwitting, vulnerable pawn of the enemy. When Gandalf the Wise spoke words of truth and courage to Theoden, he broke the spell which had bound the king. 

“Now Theoden son of Thengel, will you hearken to me?” said Gandalf. .."Not all is dark. Take courage, Lord of the Mark; for better help you will not find. No counsel have I to give to those that despair. Yet counsel I could give, and words I could speak to you. Will you hear them? They are not for all ears. I bid you come out before your doors and look abroad. Too long have you sat in shadows and trusted to twisted tales and crooked promptings.”
As Theoden listened to Gandalf’s word of counsel, his hope was revived, and he rose up with renewed strength, courage, and determination to lead his people into battle against the enemy. 

Words to rouse the spirit
When Britain was faced with the threat of invasion by Hitler’s forces, Winston Churchill, who had “nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweat,” rallied the entire nation from slumbering in fear to valiant courage and determination to defeat their enemy. 

Never give in, never, never, never. ..Never yield to force; never yield to the apparently overwhelming might of the enemy. ..Even though large tracts of Europe and many old and famous States have fallen or may fall into the grip of the Gestapo and all the odious apparatus of Nazi rule, we shall not flag or fail. We shall go on to the end ..we shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength ...whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender, and even if, which I do not for a moment believe, this Island or a large part of it were subjugated and starving, then our Empire beyond the seas, armed and guarded by the British Fleet, would carry on the struggle, until, in God's good time, the New World, with all its power and might, steps forth to the rescue and the liberation of the old.
The power of Jesus’ words
When Jesus taught, he spoke with a power and authority unlike any other human being. “No man ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46). He spoke the words which his Father in heaven gave him to speak (John 7:16; 8:26-29).

When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well (recorded in the Gospel of John, chapter 4), he spoke words of life to her. His words gave her revelation of God as well as revelation of her own sinful condition and her need for repentance and change of heart. Jesus revealed himself to her as the Messiah and offered her the living water of the Holy Spirit. She left her water jug at Jesus’ feet and immediately ran back to the village to tell everyone about her discovery. The people followed her back to the well so they could discover in person who Jesus was. John tells us that many believed in Jesus because of his word (John 4:31). They afterwards told the woman, “It is no longer because of your words that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world” (John 4:42).

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Also see > Icon of Christ from Mount Sinai

[Don Schwager is a member of The Servants of the Word and the author of the Daily Scripture Reading and Meditation website.]

Jesus Christ the Word of Life

[click to see elarged version

This painting of Christ by Michael O'Brien was commissioned in the 1980s by Mount Angel Benedictine Abbey, in Oregon, USA. The figure is based on the oldest known icon of Christ, a sixth century Christ Pantocrator in St. Catherine's Monastery, Mount Sinai, Egypt. 

See related page on the original icon of Christ Pantocrator.


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