Don’t leave Us Til you Tell Us, Lord – Has God Changed, Or Our Vision 'Come Clearer

I didn’t say it. I wouldn’t. But Jesus did, even when he could see the cross, way off in the distance.

“Don’t think for a minute I’ve come to change what you’ve already learned about God (in your Bible). No, I’m here to put it all together in a wrap-around picture. Why, God’s truth is more lasting than the stars we gaze or the ground we walk.

The stars can burn out, the earth wear out.

But God will still live and God’s ways still draw breath!”

Mtt. 5: 17-18 (Contemporary Translation)

You and I have need to know this. If not, would I get questions and comments in email like this? “Why did God change so much with the gift of His Son (Old to New Testament)? It can be confusing at times.” Truthfully, it wasn’t easier in Jesus’ own day. No, that moment Jesus set his face toward Jerusalem, and began that long, languid, lingering walk to the cross, it was hard to see God in it. ‘What kind of God? Wrathful or reconciling, angry or smitten with us; on our back, or at our side? A Friday God or a Sunday God? “No room in the Inn”, yet “room at the cross.” Lord help us! We sure would like to know, before we sign on for the journey to Jerusalem with Jesus!

‘Know what you need to know about God? What Jesus knew? GOD IS AN ALL-IN KIND OF GOD! ‘Has been from the start for us. Did you ever say, “I’d give my eye teeth to…?” God does more. God gives God’s own breath! ‘Breathes into us the breath of life. And you thought you were doin’ somethin’ when you decided, “I’d bet my bottom dollar… .” God’s all-in. When Noah began to notice sin and sorrow all around, God was way ahead. “‘Makes me so mad I could spit!” says the Lord. And he did! And it rained for forty days and nights! But God gave the blueprints for an umbrella to Noah. Well, OK, it was an ark. Still, it shouldn’t be lost on us (reference God’s character) that the last word God gave when he gazed on the animals all around was… “All In!” And should you be uncomfortable with a spitting God (it is a little yucky), remember God tells the angel of the church in Laodicea, “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. [You’re not all-in-with-me as I-with-you.] So, because you’re lukewarm, I’ll spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3: 14-16

Now there’s a God, the same from Genesis to Jesus to Revelation! The prophet Isaiah sees the same all-in God at the Red Sea.  Moses sees God “make a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, who brings forth chariot and horse, army and warrior; they lie down, they cannot rise, they are extinguished, quenched like a wick.” Yet for those who believe, “I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior. I declared and saved …and you are my witnesses.” This God who sent off Israel in chains to Babylon for its sins, still says in Isaiah’s day, “I will send to Babylon and break down all the bars, and the shouting of the Chaldeans will be turned to lamentations.” God’s people will be saved. It is precisely this same God who is ALL-IN in Jesus, “emptying himself” into Christ and “taking the form of a servant.” O, the church has a formula for forming our thoughts about this God, “The same yesterday, today and tomorrow.” But more to the point, we have a story that squares with our own story. In the darkest moment, when we have the least, God comes with the most, mighty to save. [Dr.// acid-surg, Hwk.// 18 tumor, no.. phones on  prayer pow.]

Here’s a 2nd thing Jesus knows we need to know. AN ALL-IN KIND OF GOD WILL BE ALL-OUT, ALL THE WAY TO THE CROSS. YOU CAN COUNT ON IT!! Jesus did! Here is God showing his face, revealing his mysteries, lifting the veil. Lent. Its Sundays begin today. Lent lays out the long road to the cross. With it comes a challenge. Come and see. Consider the sacrifice. Let Christ come nearer and God comes clearer. We don’t often quote it. But still, the absolute heart of Isaiah’s message is the utter heart of Jesus’ understanding of God. “I am the Lord, and besides me there is no savior!” The heart and the height of Jesus’ teaching on the way to the cross is this. “I and the Father are one!” “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” (This is what gets him sent to Pilate and the cross.) “I am the way, the truth, and life, no one to the Father, but through me.” So who is ME? What is ME… who and what is GOD… through ME? That’s what we ask. And what we learn about God through Christ. Healer. Helper. Teacher. Reviver. Redeemer. Feeder. Forgiver. Promise. Infant. Child. Challenger. Wedding Guest. Wedding  Host. Miracle Worker. MIRACLE. LORD.

SERVANT. Sufferer. Defeated. (Or so it appears, and not just at the cross or in Jesus’ 33 years!) VICTORIOUS. Laid low. Risen. Reigning in Heaven. Judge. Advocate. Hope. Above us. WITH us… always, even to the end of the earth. Some of this we always knew… from ancient of days. Some comes as a startling surprise. We didn’t expect Helper, Reviver, Forgiver, Infant, Guest, Host, Servant, Sufferer, or Defeated-before-Victorious. We knew about the Judge. We never expected that God in Christ would plead our cause before hearing our case! Now that’s a lot to take in, in words alone. So maybe we should lean on lyrics we can sing [in a moment, 11], “Amazing love, how can it be, that thou, my God should die for me? Bold I approach the eternal throne, and claim the crown, through Christ my own.”

To any who would ask, I will answer. Old Testament to New, God has not changed. It’s just that our vision has come clearer. We have simply looked into the face of Jesus, and seen the face and heart of God! That really is amazing! The result: we are not just fitted for eternity. We are fitted for everyday day life right here and right now. “You are the salt of the earth!” Jesus says this is heaven’s homework here on earth. Salt flavors/preserves. So I ask you, what taste do we leave in others’ mouths? [Debated religion/homeless shelter; home-fro.-hosp (35/d)/(Hub) this-for-what-you’ve-done; foreclose/wk camp.]  “You are the light of the world. …So let your light so shine that all may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.” Jesus shines his light by teaching. What sermon will you preach to the kids you encounter this week… your own or anybody else’s? Remember… as Jesus did… the life you live is the message you preach! What healing will you bring… to a partner or a neighbor with hurt feelings, or to some broken spirit you will meet that could use a little mending? You’re remedy may be as simple as a card or a call. A hug or a hand. Maybe even just a sit-a-spell, with nothing to say, but only a listening ear. ‘Turns out, if you got a little Jesus’-Light, a little GOD-Light, it’s as impossible to hide as a beacon under a blanket of gauze, or a whole city on a high hill. The stars can burn out, the earth wear out. But God will still live and God’s love still shine… through us. God’s ways will still draw breath … so long as God’s Jesus still breathes in us.

 

 

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