People sometimes ask what my “favorite” Bible passage is, and I find it nearly impossible to answer because there are so many! And yet, one of my very favorites is the above verse, which speaks about the Word of God being living and active, “sharper than any two-edged sword.”
This truth first dawned on me when I was teaching my very first parish Bible study in Hobbs, New Mexico. We were studying the Revelation to John, where Jesus is described as having a two-edged sword issuing from His mouth (Rev. 1:16). This passage and the discussion which ensued caused me to dig deeply into this image, to ponder it so that I could explain it to others. And the question that kept coming up was: “what’s the purpose of a two- edged sword?” Answer: it cuts both ways. What does this mean for the Church, and us?
It means quite simply that the Word of God, which is Jesus and which Jesus speaks, cuts two ways—the Word of God has work to do outside the Church, in the world, where God’s Word and Law shapes and guides and, hopefully, controls human life. But the Word also works inside the Body of Christ, as Hebrews says, discerning the thoughts and intentions of you and me. We are not safe from the Word of God, which is always at work to cut away from us and from our lives deceit, falsehood, false-teaching and belief, evil, fear, shame, and so on. This is the work of God’s Law, to convict us of our sin and disobedience. We ought not shy away from this work of the Word of God, but submit ourselves to it, and yield, in order that God’s Word may strike us to the heart, putting to death what needs to die, so that the Word may also cause the Life of Christ to thrive within us.
Blessed Martin Luther spoke of God’s Word as that which kills and makes alive, reminding us that God’s Word is both Law and Gospel—it convicts as well as forgives, it strikes down and raises up. And this, as a whole, is good news—for there would be no Gospel, without the Law!
Almighty God, we submit ourselves to your Word, and pray that it would put to death our sinful selves, that Christ may fully live within us; through Jesus our Lord. Amen.
Taken from Wendel, David, From Ashes to Easter, Ashes Lenten Devotional Booklet, North American Lutheran Church.