Friday, September 16, 2011

Our Thoughts and His: A Comparison

Justice Is A Love Story

Do you ever wonder why the Holy Spirit came to Jerusalem first of all? Or to ask the same question in a different way: Why would Jesus turn the disciples walking sadly on the road to Emmaus back to Jerusalem? Why would he then command the disciples to remain in Jerusalem? (Luke 24:33, Acts 1:4) The answer is...a love story. It is perhaps not surprising that in our times, as in the Roman Empire, when we do not value the relationship between a man and a woman, in these times, as in Jesus’ day, when there is moral toxicity all around us and in us, in these times when marriage is held in less and less esteem, the Bible has something to say against the culture of Rome and against our culture. The Bible has as its heart a love story between a man and a woman.

Jesus is the suffering servant, the Messiah of Isaiah 52-55. He appears to his disciples with the marks of the cross in his body. Though exalted by God, he is despised and rejected by men, “a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;” he who dies and is raised and “justifies many.” (53:3&11) But as the ad men on TV say, “Wait! There’s more!” The most immediate beneficiary of God’s action in Jesus, the place, or shall we say, the person with whom this justice (Romans 3:22 KJV) begins is...drumroll please, Jerusalem! “Sing O barren one who did not bear; break forth into singing and cry aloud you who have not been in travail! For the children of the desolate one will be more than the children of her that is married. Enlarge the place of your tent and let the curtains of your habitations be stretched out; hold not back, lengthen your cords and strengthen your stakes...for your children are coming home....for a brief moment I forsook you but with great compassion I will gather you. In overflowing wrath for a moment I hid my face from you, but with everlasting love I will have compassion on you” (Isaiah 54). This is why the gift of the Holy Spirit comes to Jerusalem, this is why Peter preaches the good news to the city that had killed Christ. Because the Lord loves his city. He loves her like crazy! He loves her and her awful mess. (Isaiah 40: 2 Heb.) He will give his only begotten son on a cross to save her and all of us from all our awful messes. He pours out his blessings upon “Lady Jerusalem” because though she and all the world meant it all for evil, rejecting Jesus, calling for his blood, rejecting their Lord, God meant it all for good. (Genesis 50:20, Psalm 51:4 Heb.)
We have all kinds of ideas about words like “justice, “faith,” “love,” “hope.” We call many things faith that are not. We call many things justice that are anything but. We have all kinds of ideas and thoughts. Man’s imagination is evil from youth. But God’s imagination is different, “as high as the heavens are above the earth,” so high are God’s thoughts in comparison to our own. (Isaiah 55:9) Look at Isaiah 52, 53, 54, and 55 where God talks about faith, love, justice, the good news. Nothing is as we thought, thank God! To God, justice is a man loving a woman, God loving and saving Lady Zion. (53: & 54) To God, faith is his faithfulness, that is, his establishment or “enfaithment” of Jesus. (55:3) To God, hope is the future that God gives us through the suffering servant, beginning in Zion. (53:11&12a ) To God, the good news is the man of sorrows, “the arm of the Lord revealed.” Reader, this is how I interpret the Bible and what I share with you. Search the scriptures yourself to see what you see. But in the end what’s most important is how God himself interprets scripture. He is our teacher and can be relied upon to lead us into all truth. Because when it comes down to it, we don’t want our thoughts, our ideas, we want to have his perspective on things and see things like he does. There is simply no future in anything else. His perspective is the only perspective. We were created in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:10) As Peter said, “Lord to whom shall we go, you have the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68)