The weekend before my father passed away, I took a trip to San Diego for a wedding on Saturday. The wedding was in the afternoon, so Val and I visited the art gallery of Randall Hasson. Randy is a fine artist and calligrapher.
One painting stood out in his gallery. They were all beautiful, but one piece seemed to beckon me. I saved up for several years to purchase the piece that now hangs over my fireplace. When I called Randy to place my order, I told him how that particular piece affected me. He said that in the art world there is a saying, “You don’t pick the art, the art picks you.”
Well, that is how I feel about a particular passage in the Bible. I have never had a favorite verse…or a favorite color, etc. But at age 63 there is a passage that has picked me—much like Mr. Hasson’s painting. It has touched me in powerful ways. It has come to mind on a host of occasions and strengthened me in ways I would have never suspected. And, if a reader understood the significance of this one text, they would understand much of the Bible and the Story it tells.
Ironically, the text that holds so much sway over me is only a part of a verse. It is not the whole verse. In fact, it is only one word, a declaration in the Greek New Testament—but it takes three English words to translate. That is because it is a verb, and verbs in Greek contain the personal pronoun in their endings. The Greeks had personal pronouns, and when they are used, it is for emphasis.
Its brevity is not what attracts me to it. There are other brief verses, like John 11:35, “Jesus wept.” This verse is made up of 3 Greek words, and two English words are used to translate it.
I can imagine someone stumbling onto a Bible for the first time and opening it to this passage and being struck with curiosity, perhaps unbelief, or amazement. I am willing to affirm that if someone happened to read this text, asked about its significance, and explored its significance like a detective trying to solve a mystery, they would see precisely what I am affirming.
The word I have withheld from the reader is found in Mark 16:6. It is the Greek agerthe. (Isn’t that helpful?)
Today’s sermon has been on my mind for weeks. This past week I wrote 6 sermons…well really, only one sermon with 6 points, but because I am in the midst of a homiletical experiment, I am making a series out of it.
The homiletical experiment I have engaged in over the past 3-4 weeks is to center each sermon around one and only one point. The sermon I put together over the past five days had 6 points. On my way home Wednesday evening, I realized that this went against my experiment. So, Thursday, I reworked the six point sermon into a one point sermon reserving the other main points for the next few weeks.
The next few articles will be centered on the significance of this one word, translated, “He has risen!”