The Greatest Love Story Ever Told

by | Apr 1, 2024 | Sermons | 0 comments

March 31, 2024

Scripture Reading: John 20:1-18

There are a number of ways that you can look at the Bible. Most people have their own way of approaching it or not approaching it, but I think a lot of them can leave you disappointed. For me, one of the great things about the Bible is to look at the people and let them tell you their stories. You will get a long string of very different people, and the widest variety of stories – most of them are about people who have been trying to do their best to understand and follow God. That way of looking at it presents an endless amount of rich material in my own life. But that’s not the whole of the Bible story.

But, it’s not just a book about human beings and their successes and failures, it is a story about all the work God has been doing since the beginning of time to relate to and to engage us humans in the dream God has for us all. From the start, the Bible tells us this amazing and on-going love story of our creator who wants an ongoing relationship with us. It is a story of God’s successes and failures to connect with us! It is a love story – the greatest ever told!

In a way it is like a story of a young teenager who is carrying around this huge attraction for another teenager who is playing hard to get! For whatever reason, the other is so often oblivious or too busy or has other interests and just doesn’t respond to either the subtle or not-so-subtle advances of the first one! It’s painful to watch! And to experience!

God’s love story started in the Garden of Eden with God’s first efforts to make for us a beautiful place and we just shrugged off that one restriction! Think of it! God gave us a whole big and beautiful place, just sure we would be impressed and return his love. All God said was: “I just have one rule: Don’t touch that one little tree! And what did we do in response to God’s generosity? Of course we did that very thing, spurning God’s advances toward us.

And then there was that flood where God wanted to keep us from drowning and we didn’t appreciate it! And there was everything God did to save us from such misery in Egypt and so many of us could only complain! And there was such a wide array of leaders and prophets from Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to Joshua, Elijah and Elisha that tried to get us to pay attention. Some did. Many did not!

It seemed this all went on forever with limited success until the arrival of Jesus who seemed so unique in his ability to know the heart and mind of his father God. And God used him like no one before to relay to us this story of love and forgiveness and longing! God, through Jesus, forgave the sinner, healed the sick, restored the dying, lifted the outcasts, loved the children, and never quit this work of showing us just how much God loves us until they finally got rid of him by falsely accusing him, pronouncing him guilty and condemning him to die on a cross.

Love condemned to die. The end of love. God’s love letter left on the coffee table unopened because the sender has died with no hope of being seen again. Death has had the final word as it always seems to have. But somehow we had hoped that it wasn’t so in Jesus! His love seemed to be just like God’s love and we had begun to think that God’s love was everlasting.

That was the atmosphere! That was the mindset of Mary, Peter, and John as they headed for the tomb that Sabbath morning over 2000 years ago. Their dream shattered, their new life that had been given to them by Jesus was over like a corpse. They had been set adrift on a boat without a rudder. The best Mary could do was address what she thought was the gardener with her feeble request: “Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.” If I can’t have this living love, I will take the shell and make the best of it.

And then she heard a word that God speaks to us as God spoke to Moses, Abraham, and Joshua: Jesus called her by name as God calls and knows us, and she knew that somehow Jesus still lived and would live within her always!

I want to say this morning, that in God there is no final goodbye. God’s love-story for sure seems to come to a sudden end from time to time in our lives, but the Easter message is solid and sure: Paul said it best:

Romans 8:35: Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”[a] 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

 

This is the Easter story and it is just as true today as it was 2000 years ago. Amen and Hallelujah!

Pastor Don Crist