Revelations 3: 14To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.
Over time as language changes we can often lose an appreciation or even full understanding of the meaning of words. The word Amen is one such word. Growing up I knew it was a word I needed to say at the end of a prayer, but I wasn’t sure why. Eventually I heard a sermon which explained that it simply meant ‘let it be so”. We are petitioning God asking Him to let the previous sentiments we expressed be so.
The great 19th century preacher C.H. Spurgeon wrote a sermon entitled “The Amen”. In it I found two other meanings of Amen that I was not aware of. A second use of the word Amen in the Bible was for consenting. In Numbers 5:22, God is dealing with impurity and sin within the Israelite community. The Amen in this case consents to being tested before the Lord to determine a woman’s sexual purity within her marriage.
A final use of “Amen” is one that surprisingly was used at the beginning of a sentence. In John 3:5 (King James Version), Jesus said: “Verily, verily (or very truly), I say unto thee, except a man be born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God”. The words “verily, verily” were actually “Amen, Amen” in both the Greek and Hebrew. When used in this way, beginning a sentence, it implies that not only is the following true, but also that the person making the statement has firsthand knowledge and authority about it. Speaking from a secular point of view, beginning a statement with “Amen, Amen” would be an emphatic emphasis that the following is true and is that person’s own original idea. When Jesus begins off with the words “verily, verily” in verses like John 3:5, or John 8:51, he is saying more than “this is true”, he is saying that He knows this to be true by firsthand experience. Jesus claiming to know heavenly, godly things is a further claim of his divinity. Not only does Jesus know the truth, He is the One who originated the truth.
On March 13, 2001, the over-matched Boston Celtics played the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA. The Lakers won 112-107, but a young Celtic, Paul Pierce, dropped in a game-high 42 points and made a statement to the world. After the game, a famous Laker proclaimed the following: “My name is Shaquille O’Neal and Paul Pierce is the (expletive) truth.” And from that day forward the nickname stuck. Pierce became “The Truth”. Shaq had witnessed Pierce’s greatness firsthand. Long before Pierce earned 10 All-Star appearances and an NBA Championship in 2008, Shaq knew that there was nothing false about this guy’s game. His basketball game was the truth. Shaq could have said: “Amen, amen, Pierce is the truth”.
While it is special to hear one great athlete honor another with a compliment like Shaq bestowed on Pierce, and while Pierce turned out to be a good ambassador on an off the court, the truth ends on the basketball court. When Jesus walked on this earth, He was the Truth, and He is the Amen. “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation.” (Revelation 3:14). When we read the Bible, and when we read the book of Revelation, we read the words of Truth. We read the words that come from Jesus the Great Amen. When you next read Jesus’ words, remember that they are much more than nice sayings, beautiful moral teachings, or useful words to live by; they are The Amen, The Truth. And all the people said: AMEN!