Have you ever waited eagerly for a dramatization of a book you read? Maybe there's talk about a movie or mini-series based on one of your favorite stories. (This May all the talk will be about the "DaVinci Code" which will be the dramatization of a best-selling novel. A book that claims to reveal the truth about Christ.)

Why are we so eager to see stories dramatized? Perhaps it is because we want to see them fleshed-out and made real? We want to experience the story with more of our senses. Even listening to a reading of the New Testament with different voices and sound effects "rounds out" the experience somewhat.

Drama is the embodiment of story. Since we are embodied creatures, we have a desire to experience story and truth in more than just words. God knows that. That is why the Word became Flesh and dwelled among us. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. But the word did not remain disembodied or far away and untouchable. The word became a man and lived among us. He attended weddings and contributed to the celebration by helping out when there was a need. He stayed up late and grew tired teaching those who wanted to know the truth. He walked great distances and even ventured across the "wrong side of the tracks" to meet people where they lived and worked. And he got thirsty. But he spoke to people and they not only heard the word – they saw the word and touched the word.

The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. And he became hungry. He knew that the people starving for truth were also physically hungry and he bothered to provide them with food. He knew what it felt like to be threatened and misunderstood, but he showed us what it meant to be brave and resolved to stand up for the truth. The Word became flesh and had hands – hands that wrote in the dirt when an angry mob brought a sinful woman to him to be killed brutally. He must have felt the tension when he risked his own safety for the sake of everyone. They heard the truth when he said, "Whoever is without sin let him cast the first stone." But you know, some fool very well could have lobbed a rock at him. The Word became flesh and lived among us – and like us he knew pain.

Jesus did not just deliver a message. He was the message. He did not simply speak truth. He was truth. He did the truth. On the night that he is betrayed, when he celebrates the Passover (an embodied worship celebrated by God's people for centuries), Jesus does the truth. He serves. He shows the disciples what it means to be great. He shows them what it means to lead. He shows them what it means to do the truth. And he asks them, "Do you understand what I have done?" In other words, "Do you get it?"

Jesus goes on to teach his disciples many things. And thanks to the witness of the apostles we have this teaching in the form of Scripture -- God's Word. What are we to do with that word? If we understand it, then what? In his teaching on the night of the Passover and betrayal, Jesus says, "If you love me, then keep my commandments." Notice that he doesn't simply say "agree to my commandments" or "defend my commandments" or "study my commandments." He says "keep them." He is calling us to embody the commandments. He wants us to "dramatize" them – but not as if we are pretending or do not mean it. We "act them out" because we are acting on them. The Word became flesh and dwelled among us. And so we as fleshly creatures need to dwell in the Word.

To keep the commandments, we must know them. To do them, we must dwell in them. This is why we need to become familiar with the teaching of our Lord and the Bible. This is why we need to read it and hear it every day – privately, with others, and let it become our language. Jesus gave us an example – to do the truth. To embody the truth.

Baptism is an embodied act of faith. We don't simply love God with our mind, or heart – but with our whole self. If you have been baptized, then your life has been submerged into the life of the Word made Flesh. He also was baptized to please the Father. If you have been baptized then you are made new to live out that Christ-life. As the apostle Paul says it, "I have been crucified with Christ, but I still live. But it is not I that lives, but now Christ lives in me." The Word is still flesh living among us.

If you haven't been baptized you can be. God welcomes all who believe and repent and want to live an abundant life in Christ.

Chris Benjamin

West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 8 January 2006

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