Summary: When God became human, God said yes to humanity. When Jesus was obedient to the point of death, Jesus said yes to God. Because God said yes to us, we can say yes to God!
Yes, no, maybe so. Yes, no, maybe so. Each and every day we’re faced with dozens of decisions – things or people or places or events that we must say yes or no to.
Yes, I’ll have chicken for dinner tonight. No, I won’t have beef.
Yes, I’ll go to work this morning. No, I won’t stay even a minute after 5:00.
Yes, I’ll call my sister today. No, I won’t have time to eat lunch with my brother.
Yes, no, maybe so. Dozens of times a day. Big decisions, little decisions, major decisions, mundane decisions.
It’s part of what makes our free market economy so great, isn’t it? We can walk into Dominicks or Marshall Fields or Circuit City or Sears and we find thousands and thousands of products just waiting for us to say yes or no to them.
And it’s something we learn when we’re still pretty young. Yes to chocolate cake. No to lima beans. Yes to playing boardgames. No to washing the dishes. Yes and no are among the first words a child learns!
This morning we are learning from one of Jesus’ parables about saying yes to God. Two sons are asked by their father to work in the vineyard. The first son defied his dad by saying he would not go. But later, he had a change of heart and he ended up going to work in the vineyard as his father had requested. The second son quickly agreed to his dad’s request, but he didn’t follow through on his promise and he never went to the vineyard.
So we see one son who said yes with his words but said no with his actions. The other son said no with his words but said yes with his actions. But whether they say yes to God with words or they say yes to God with actions, both are possible because God first said yes to us.
The very act of God becoming human in the person of Jesus Christ was the amazing act of God saying yes to humanity. And this act of God saying yes to us has been understood and celebrated since the very earliest church gathered. In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, we find the very oldest part of the New Testament. Paul is quoting a hymn that was sung by the early church in the years right after Christ’s resurrection. Even in the English translation, we can hear the song-like qualities of the hymn.
So from the earliest times in the church, the amazing act of God becoming human was celebrated and sung with joy – this act of God saying yes to humanty. That God would come and breathe and thirst and sweat and bleed and grow tired and feel lonliness and frustration and sadness and fear and all the rest of what we know as human life – what an amazing God we serve!
And what an amazing way for God to say yes to us. To want to know us and know our pain and our struggles that we have to suffer in world that has fallen away from God, and to want to know it so much that God would become one of us to feel the suffering firsthand. Because God certainly knew what humanity was like when we were created – the Creator knows intimately the Creation!
But in the fallen, broken world which we made for ourselves, God didn’t recognize the things we had brought into the world – death, pain, suffering, sin, illness, jealousy, violence, war. Until God made the ultimate step of saying yes to humanity by becoming one of us – discovering firsthand what we had done to the Creation.
If God had stopped at this point – becoming human just to see what it was like – we would not have the good news to share today that we do. Because once God became human in the person of Jesus Christ, Jesus turned right around and said yes to God – Philippians says he humbled himself and was obedient to God, even to the point of death on a cross.
So God said yes to humanity when Jesus came. And Jesus said yes to God when he was led up to be crucified.
And in that point of the crucifixion, we see both of these – God saying yes to humanity, humanity saying yes to God. Because we were not able to say yes to God on our own accord, Jesus, being who He was, said yes to God in our place.
Which was remarkable in and of itself. For among the very people who Jesus was trying to save were the ones who were crying out, “Crucify him!” and the ones who strapped the cross to his back and the ones who led him up the hill to Golgotha and the ones who swung the hammer to nail him to the cross.