Great stories. The kind with a beginning, middle and end. Stories that twist and turn and challenge your brain but at the end leave you feeling like you are wrapped in a warm quilt with a hot beverage, snuggled in an easy chair sighing contentedly. These are my favourites.
The story of Jesus has been given the distinction of the greatest story ever told, and it is.
It has a beginning. “In the beginning, God.” (Gen.1:1) “In the beginning was the Word.” (John 1:1) In the beginning Father, Son and Spirit create, well, everything. Including us. God pours out his agape love on human beings, knowing full well we will reject it. We will reject, Him. One of the saddest verses I have ever read is Genesis 6:6 – “The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled.” Yet even though mankind spurns God’s love, God has a plan. The plan takes us to the middle of the story.
The plan includes Noah, who builds a massive boat. It includes Abraham, the father of nations. God’s plan includes scheming Jacob and steadfast Joseph. Joshua the visionary, Rahab the harlot, Samson the strong, Gideon the reluctant and Ruth the devoted. It includes David, the enigma of an adulterous murderer who is also a man after God’s own heart. The story of the plan unfolds with Jonah the stubborn, courageous Esther and faith filled Job. Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel help the others point us to the One to come. Then things get silent. We wait for the next chapter. We assume there will be fanfare and fireworks but then God comes to earth as an infant. Jesus is born in Bethlehem. He is born to die. The ultimate sacrifice. The plan unfolding in God’s great love. He sent his son to die and make amends for mankind’s rejection. Grace. Mercy. Love. All on a cross of crucifixion. “It is finished,” he said. (John 19:30)
And it was. But it was not the end. For three days later He rose in resurrection power. My heart quickens even as I write this and I want to shout,’ Hallelujah! Yes! Jesus is alive!’
The gospel is written. The good news is told. Yet, I recall the days when I have wept in sorrow at Christ’s suffering. Love, grace and mercy flowed in blood and water from a cross to which I should have been nailed. And I say with Rich Mullins the words from his song, ‘Jesus’ – “Jesus, write me into Your story, whisper it to me and let me know I’m Yours.” - and He does.
Soon we will celebrate this amazing, indescribable redemption of mankind once again. Hopefully, we will ponder it all. The whole plan. Right from the beginning. May it fill us to the brim with incredible joy and overwhelming thankfulness, so much so that it will pour out in much praise and worship.
But this is not the end of the story. We are still in the middle, getting closer to the end with each passing hour. He is coming back. Perhaps we will be the generation who will see “the Son of Man coming on the clouds of heaven, with power and great glory.” (Mt 24:30) There is a huge part of me that wants to see that day but there is another giant part of me that hopes He delays in order for more people to be written into His story.
“Even so, come Lord Jesus.” (Rev 22:20)
May you have a wonderful celebration next week, may your heart truly be full to overflowing, and may Jesus draw you deeper into His story. Thanks be to God.