Summary: First-person narrative preached in a series of narratives for Advent
A Celebration of Love
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it . . . .
Even as I write these words, my heart is filled with so many emotions, so many thoughts. The Spirit of God has prompted me to write—he is in fact leading me, causing me to remember even as Jesus promised he would. So much I’ve learned, so much I still do not understand.
For the longest, I struggled with one question, “Why would the Word of God—the Son of the Living God leave the glory of heaven to come to earth? When I was younger, a follower of the Master, I did not fully understand nor appreciate what he was doing, or why he was doing it.
Like so many of the people in our land in that day, I wanted a Messiah who would come and rid us of Rome. I wanted a Messiah who would come in judgment of all who would deny him. I wanted a Messiah who would call fire down from heaven upon those who failed to serve the Lord.
But I learned. I learned that this is not what the Master had come to do. He came to show us the way into the Kingdom of God. He came to show us what it meant to truly follow God. But what compelled him to come, he who made the earth and sky? Why would he stoop to our level, to take upon himself the flesh of humanity? Only now do I truly understand. The reason the Messiah came to us was simple—he loved us.
The memories come flooding back to me now. Each moment with him, each wonderful word from his lips, each example of love they all come to me as if they all happened yesterday.
I can recall the first miracle I watched the Master work. I had not been following him long when our group went to a wedding in Cana. The festivities were still going strong when the Master’s mother came to him and told him that the host was out of wine. Jesus gave her a mild rebuke, but she trusted he would do something for the embarrassed host. And he did. How I wish the whole wedding party knew that the best wine they had during the wedding feast had once be plain water. How they would have risen up and taken notice of the Master then. But that wasn’t why he changed the water into wine (only a handful of us ever knew about the miracle). I believe that he worked this miracle out of sheer love—love for his mother, love for the host, love for the bride and groom. He cared about them so much, he simply could not imagine letting them suffer shame. Such love—given to those who did not even know what they were given. Such an amazing love.
Then there was the time a pharisee came to see the Master. Nicodemus was his name. He came to the Master by night. I still suspect it was so that no one would see him coming to an traveling preacher. A pharisee he was—and a member of the Sanhedrin. Yet he came to Jesus. So many of Nicodemus’s friends in the Sanhedrin would come to hate the Master with a passion—many were already distrustful of Jesus. Some of the disciples really did not want Nicodemus there; but Jesus agreed to see him. When the pharisee began their conversation with flattery, the Master quickly took control of the moment and told the Jewish leader that he needed to experience a new birth. Entering the Kingdom was not about keeping the law, but about receiving the free gift of salvation that came through the grace of God. None of us fully understood what Jesus meant when he told Nicodemus that the Son of Man must be lifted up even as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. I understand now that Jesus was talking about his death. I understand now that this act of grace came because of love. Jesus looked at this potential enemy, and loved him—and was willing to give himself for him. For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Such an incredible love.
I recall a trip we made through Samaria. None of us felt comfortable traveling through the country. These people had been looked upon as enemies for such a long time. Now, here we were traveling in hostile country on our way back home to Galilee. When we arrived at Jacob’s well, Jesus sent us into the neighboring town of Sychar to get food. We made the trip to the foot of Mt. Ebal and back again. When we returned to the well we saw her. A Samaritan woman was at the well speaking with the Master. We knew something must be wrong with her—coming to draw water in the heat of the day could only mean that her own people found fault with her. (We later found out why—she had quite a bad reputation) And there she was as bold as day talking to the Master—and he with her! Not even Peter had enough courage to ask what was going on. When she left, we approached the Master—and felt his rebuke. He told us to open our eyes, everywhere around us the fields were ripe to harvest—but we had to open our eyes. I couldn’t help but believe he was talking about this woman; after all, we had to have passed her on our way to town and we never even noticed her. Not long after she left she returned—with what looked like her entire village! An entire village came out to see the Master because of this woman. And many left that day believing in the Lord. All because he loved a Samaritan woman—someone he should never have had contact with according to the custom of our day. But his love for her was greater than his concern for social propriety. He love this woman that we did not even see. Such an open love.