The way God reveals himself to us is primarily through his word, the word we hear with our ears. To our way of thinking, seeing is more important than hearing. We say things like, "don't believe your ears," "You've got to see it to believe it," "Words are cheap," and so on. We put a lot of stock in our eyes, but not much in our ears. With God, it is the other way around. In fact, Jesus condemned the whole generation he spoke to for their desire to see signs and wonders (Matt. 16:4). And later in the next chapter of John, he removed himself from a crowd who followed him because of what they saw (John 2:23-25). He turned them away from their eyes to open their ears (Luke 11:27-38). The best statement of the tension between seeing and hearing in John's Gospel is Jesus' statement to Thomas: "Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe (20:29). Jesus condemns those who need to see signs and wonders to believe. Jesus commends hearing, speaking of the power in the word. "Truly, truly, I say to you," he said, "he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life" (5:24). "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me." he said (10-27). The same kind of tension between seeing and hearing is present in Paul's letters. "For we walk by faith, not by sight" (2Cor. 5:7). As Luther once said, before God it is as if we have only one organ -- our ears. He may occasionally give sights, as he did in Jesus, but when he makes himself manifest to us, showing us who he is and what we can expect from him, he always does so through the word. The word is the Spirit's instrument, too, or means. Jesus spoke the word to Philip who in turn spoke it to Nathanael. Nathanael then came to Jesus to hear some more. This Gospel reveals to us that there is a priority of hearing overseeing -- the priority of the word of God. Through the Gospel, as it is read and proclaimed, God reveals himself to us. He is present with us in his Word to call us as Nathanael was called; to gather us as the disciples were gathered; to sanctify us as he sanctifies and makes whole all of his people. As Paul says, "Now we see in a mirror dimly." But "then," on the last day, when Christ is all in all, we shall see "face to face" (1Cor. 13:12). Our ears and words play a much bigger part in everyday life than we often realize. It is primarily through hearing that we communicate with other people. The Bible puts so much priority on the word of God because it is through his speaking and our hearing that God expresses himself to us and makes himself known. "No one has ever seen God," but "the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known." We Lutherans believe that when the Gospel is read and proclaimed God himself is speaking to us. In the sacraments, it is the word alone with the water, bread, and wine that makes the sacrament the power of God's forgiveness.