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Love is that liquor sweet and most divine

Sunday, April 22, 2018

From Psalm 118 and John 10
It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man … Jesus told the people, “I have other sheep that do not belong to this fold. These also I must lead, and they will hear my voice, and there will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.”

For Paul, Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection brought a new world order. Now we could look both forward and back to the blessing of God, not the curse of Satan. Original blessing came both before and after original sin.

Jesus didn’t just tell us to “love your enemies;” he walked the talk. And make no mistake, to God we were all enemies. None of us righteous, not even one. All fallen short of the glory of God. “God has bound everyone over to disobedience SO THAT he may have mercy on them all” (Romans Romans Romans).

Why is this night unlike any other night? Because just as God delivered the Hebrews from slavery, so too God delivers us all from Sin and Death in the death and resurrection of Jesus. And Jesus knows: “There will be one flock, one shepherd. This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again.”

I imagine our extended family called out of vacation into sudden crisis mode. One of us must die, and not just die but be tortured in death. Who will it be? None of us would let the other do it; we would all volunteer to take up the cross.

I think that’s true. I hope that’s true.

What the Church understands as the “Trinity” of God had that same get-together. “No, let me.” “I should be the one.” “Don’t even think about it; I’ll go.” “Fugetabout it! I’m on my way right now.”


Our theology gets trapped into humanizing God rather than finding our way toward God divinizing us. I can only imagine the kind of meetings God has with himself and herself in heaven. And my imagination doesn’t get very far.

Because it best embodied the “pursuit of Beautiful Orthodoxy,” Fleming Rutledge’s book The Crucifixion was Christianity Today’s 2017 Book of the Year. Compassionate preacher and conscientious scholar, Rector Rutledge coordinates wonderful ideas from several centuries of thinkers, theologians and writers. Here is one from George Hunsinger:

“Christ’s blood is a metaphor that stands primarily for the suffering love of God ... a love that has endured the bitterest realities of suffering and death in order that its purposes might prevail … the motif of Christ’s blood signifies primarily the depth of the divine commitment to rescue, protect, and sustain those who would otherwise be lost” (Crucifixion, p. 282). Otherwise, be lost. That’s all of us. From dawn until the end of time, we are all rescued by the suffering love of God. David knew: “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man.”

Because this is true, today is the day that the Lord has made. So let us rejoice! And be glad in it.

O Lord, my sin does not escape your notice. But your love precedes my repentance and follows it, and I am lost in your love, found in your love, and held close forever in your love. Hold me gently, hold me true.

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