Summary: I want the hearers to celebrate the love that Christ has for them
"A Love Story" - John 20:10-18
Pastor Antonio Torrence, Cross of Life Lutheran Church
If time were to write a romantic novel it would be synonymous with William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. Jesus would be cast, as our Romeo and we, humanity, would be his leading lady Juliet. It would be an epic trilogy about a romantic encounter between lovers from two feuding family courts of contrasting natures. Like the old familiar story of boy meets girl, boy loses girl, and boy gets girl, this would be a screenplay depicting the eternal love of a Heavenly creator for his earthly creation. And for the next few moments, I invite you to imagine this three act play.
The curtain rises and the first scene opens with our creator God walking in his garden. He beholds his mountains and smells the salt of his seas. The earth is beneath his feet and the clouds are circling his brow. This earth is good, abundant and pleasing; yet, there is still something missing. He desires someone to share this beautiful good earth with him. He desires someone to walk beside him in the garden in the coolness of the day. This Creator God desires someone to hear the music that he hears from the rise and fall of ocean waves crashing against earth’s gentle soft shores. He longs for someone to see the radiant beams of light dancing from His blazing sun and radiant moonlight; someone to glaze up at the heavens and the glimmering stars. This beloved entity wants someone to know the beauty of his universe, someone to sense the joy and wonders of its birth. Our God yearns for a lover to share his heart, mind, and soul. So he sits beneath the tree of life and begins to draw in the dust of the earth. His divine intellect, compassion, and love begin to give birth to his heart’s desire. He, who is love acts out of love and gives birth to the object of his affection. The imago dei or the image of God becomes a living, breathing soul. His lover is formed. He names this new entity “adamah,” – humankind, humanity. Humanity is the imago dei – the image of God, bearing his likeness and doing his will. Humanity walks with him, talks with him, and sleep comfortable in his loving arms. In the garden, humanity shares the exploits of the celestial kingdom with her lover God. Humankind names his beasts, tills his grounds, and worships him at his feet because he meets their every need. They are the perfect union – the Creator and his created - the Master and his masterpiece - the lover and his beloved. It is a wonderful scene of delight, innocence, and purity. Creation’s story ends with God’s blessing upon his beloved. The curtain falls.
Act two now begins again in the garden. Our two protagonists are replaced with the antagonists of temptation and sin. And through craftiness and cunning, they would tempt humanity causing her to doubt her lover’s intentions and motives. God’s creation would disobey him. His heavenly divine court forces him to cast humanity out of the garden and into a world of condemnation and bondage. A death sentenced is passed. Humanity is condemned to die. Her intimate relationship with God seems to have ended. She is forced to communicate with her lover from distance separated by a gap of sin and death. Their conversation is now done through slaughtered lambs and bulls. Judges, prophets, and priests are enlisted to carry messages from the throne room of God to the ears of his creation. However, humanity refuses to hear. Her transgression and exile transfigure her once beautiful image to one of disdain and repulsiveness. She is now shaped in iniquity and conceived in sin. She would break every agreement and covenant of her Lord. She would kill his messengers, and conspire with his enemies. And yet, through it all her lover, her creator God still loves her. Ahhh..His spirit still sings to her. Solomon captured excerpts of his love song to his people saying, “you have ravished my heart with one glance of your eyes. How sweet is your love, my sister, and my bride, how much better is your love than wine.” Ahhh..Our God still loves us. And that’s the message for someone here today. In spite of our sins, our God adores and treasures each and every one of his creations. In spite of our backgrounds, our current situations, and surrounding circumstances, God still longs to have an intimate relationship with us. He wants a monogamous relationship with the adulterer. He wants to share the truth with the liar. He wants to give comfort to those who mourn. He wants to grant peace to those whose world is falling apart around them. He wants to declare liberty for all those who are oppressed. God still wants to give us the best His universe has to offer. He wants knows us intimately. Oh he knows about us but he wants to know us intimately. He knew us from our mother’s womb and even took time to count the hairs upon our heads. He knows about our past, present and future. We are engraved in the palms of his hands. Our God wants a one-to-one encounter with us. He stills longs to hold us intimately in his arms. Oh, you think you are too shrewd up to be with God. You think God could never love the likes of your kind. But he loves you. Messed up and mixed up- God still loves you. Crazy and Confused, backward and abused –God still loves you. He wants you, just the way you are. There’s no need to get your self together or to wait until some of your problems are resolved. God wants you now. Drug addicted and HIV afflicted – God wants you as you are. Black or White, Gay or Straight, – God wants you as you are. If he could love a cussing Peter, he can love you. If he could depend on a doubting Thomas, he could use you. If he could kiss a betraying Judas he can still get close to you. God wants you and he wants you the way you are. Our God still loves us.