Growing up I was pretty chubby. Actually, I’m still pretty chubby. Middle School and the beginning of high school was pretty brutal for a chubby kid. I got teased. Today we would call it “bullying” but, it really was kids being kids. I was overweight, didn’t have many friends, and so I was teased. It’s life. You get over it. You learn how to handle the words and when you find someone who speaks words of life, you embrace them.
One of the phrases that people would offer as a means to help was, “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”
You know what? That’s totally baloney. Words did hurt me.
Words have power. Great power. They can either bring life or death.
In Luke 4 there are some significant scenes in the life of Jesus. First, he enters into the synagogue in Nazareth. He takes the scroll, and reads from Isaiah,
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
Jesus declared, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” The people heard these words and loved him.
Moments later they hated him and decided to throw him from a cliff. Why? His words.
Jesus leaves Nazareth and head to the Galilee where people are amazed by the authority of his teaching, his words. He casts out a demon by rebuking it. Words overpower the demon.
Jesus leaves the synagogue to find Peter’s mother ill. He rebukes the fever and she is healed. Words overpower the illness.
The power of words on display in three narrative moments from the life of Jesus. In these moments he speaks life to he broken. His words take people on a roller coaster of emotion from joy to hate. All with words.
As Jesus speaks we see the two sides covenant and kingdom. Relationship and authority. In the first scene Jesus is working with covenant language and speaking to the brokenness of the covenant relationship of the people of God and then to its healing. In the second two scenes Jesus is speaking with kingdom language. The language of authority.
The follower of Jesus has these two sets of language to use as well. We speak with authority and we speak relationally. Our words matter. They have significant power because God the Holy Spirit lives inside of us.
The question we must wrestle with, how will we use our words?
“Stick and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.” Is a lie. But, while words can hurt they can also bring life. Will we speak life or will we speak death?