“What in the world does ‘verily verily’ mean?” I was asked this question before one of our study and prayer times. I explained that it in versions, other than the KJV, it was translated “truly truly” and that Jesus uses this in those moments when he wants to say something of special importance. We looked through several illustrations of this in the Gospel of John. After he seemed satisfied that he understood I offered him a more modern translation. “Here is one without all the thees and thous.” To this he replied “I know what ‘thee and thou’ means!” It was a great opportunity for us to explore God’s word in an organic and relational way.
I remember school days; the teachers I particularly liked were ones who would say “This is a really important point!” Which I knew was a sign that it would be on the test. Jesus was like that. He would give these broad signals that he was about to make a vital point.
This became especially apparent to me as I was preparing to fill in for my friend George. George teaches at a noon hour study designed for business people in Up Town Saint John. This is a much different crowd than I am currently used to dealing with and George is much more of an academic than I am. The study is on the Gospel of Mark and George was at about the half-way point just after the transfiguration.
I picked up the narrative with God’s voice coming from the cloud “this is my beloved Son, listen to him” Now God’s audible voice is so seldom heard in scripture that this reminded me of my ‘verily verily’ conversation. If God speaks aloud only rarely then we should pay particular attention to what He says. What he says, of course, is “listen to Jesus”.
So what does Jesus say? Well in the following passages he says he is going to Jerusalem and the cross but will be raised victorious. The disciples (even those who heard the audible voice of God!) did not really pay heed to this vital revelation, instead we see them soon arguing about who is greatest. This provides the context for another of Jesus vital post transfiguration pronouncements “if you want to be the greatest be the servant of all.” He must have had in mind his crucifixion and exaltation. He knew it was his path. Luke writes in the KJV “He set his face like a flint for Jerusalem.”
And if we “truly truly” listen to the voice of the Father we understand that it is in serving others that we achieve our full measure of greatness in the Kingdom of God.
I got an opportunity to practise this concept right away (as often happens). A friend at our Saturday breakfast was not feeling well and made a bit of a mess in the bathroom. One of the guys helping on that occasion came to me and told me. He said “I can do lots to help but I can’t handle that!” Those who know me know I have a sensitive stomach when it comes to this but I knew this was my opportunity. I put on a pair of gloves and held my breath and only wretched a few times before order was restored. My Street Hope friends were so impressed! You would have thought I had accomplished some Herculean feat and maybe I had.
“I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”