Hi. Welcome to the silence.
Life is so loud sometimes and just being still even for a few minutes can powerfully rearrange everything that’s assaulting our minds and our hearts. Especially when God is in view. After all he’s the one who said “be still and know that I am God.”
So we’ve turned the volume down as we start what we hope will be a beautiful and raucous night in the hopes that the things we need to hear most will become really, really loud.
God knows who you are. Where you are. And he knows what you need in this moment. He is not looking at a massive crowd but the eyes of the one who so easily spoke galaxies into their places are looking right at you. Amazingly he knows your name and the color he painted your eyes. And he knows what makes you laugh and what makes you cry. He is not distracted by what you think about him. Or what you want him to think about you. He knows what he thinks about you and how he feels. And he wants to say something to you in the silence.
“I love you.”
Let that sink into the silence and the stillness and the soil of your heart.
God loves you. Oh don’t believe the words on the screen or the words of somebody. You don’t have to take it from a third party. No. The Father has spoken directly to you. The God of all creation is engaging you in a pretty stunning conversation. And as is always the case God is speaking first. Not waiting for your proposal or assessment of where you feel you are. Or if you’ll ever be as amazing as something deep inside tells you that you were meant to be. He isn’t waiting to hear about all your screw ups or your great deeds to make it up. No God is eager to share his take on you.
Here it is.
Both are true and both things set him in motion shaping history with a story fueled by unstoppable grace. You see, God was not shut down by our failure. Nor did the consequences of our rebellion dim his beautiful heart of love. No, we were the ones shut down when sin caused our souls to die. And die we did. It’s bad news, death.
Because dead people can’t see. Can’t breathe. Can’t help themselves. Dead people can’t do anything. That is why they call him savior. When we were dead and could not touch God Jesus came down and touched us. It is the most phenomenal thing that has or will ever happen to you and me. Divinity rushing into humanity. God in skin marching steadily to the beat of his own love. And nothing and no one could alter his course.
We were a mess.
Yet we were deeply loved.
Because of our mess his embrace would demand a cost beyond compare. Because love was accompanied by justice and justice demanded someone cover our debt of sin and shame someone would have to stand in our place and pay our fee. Someone would have to come to our aid.
Even if we wanted to pay off the price required by our mistakes it could not be so. Dead men cannot stand up for themselves. So another would have to take our blows and swallow the death our sins deserved. But who could do that for us. It couldn’t be just anyone. Because if the price to be offered was death the price would have to be exacted from someone who was alive. Yet the whole world was dead in darkness until a miracle happened and a light shone above and in a manger.
In the night the hope of us all was born alive. The only one ever born alive. And the only one to live a spotless life of pure faith in God. So on the Friday we call good Jesus was the only one at the cross who could possibly die. Because he was the only living soul on plane earth. Hallelujah. Jesus was alive when God’s love drove the nails our sin screamed out for into his hands and feet. Nails of love punctured flesh as blood so precious streamed down to the ground. A puddle of incomprehensible love soaking into the soil.
His innocence now gone he gasped and cried. Purity now covered in muck and shame. And when the sun fully scorched the beautiful bloom of grace Jesus could no longer suck in enough air to breathe. And finally his heart stopped beating.
In an instant all hell broke lose and darkness covered the moment as his lifeless mangled body hung for all the world to see. God’s undeniable expression.
I love you.
His death shocked everyone in heaven and hell. Everyone except his Father who was on a mission of love and saw this day coming from before there was time. But all else missed it. That’s why some wept in disbelief as others exuberantly shouted death has won.
The darkness threw a party. But as it turned out hell partied too soon. God’s story was just getting interesting as he spoke to his son. Rise up son I love. Rise up oh my son.
From the clasp of death Christ rose. His Father exhaling glorious breathe and never-ending life into his lungs. So tonight we will throw the party and invite the world to come. Because our God is mighty to save. And the Christ we celebrate has overwhelmed the grave.
He is here now. This same Jesus is here now. Offering his life to all men. To you. Not you trying to live a better life. But Christ living his life inside of you. If you want a big theological word it’s called incarnation. It you need a simpler word it’s called the gospel of grace. Christ in you the hope of glory.
I don’t know what the loudness has been pumping into your heart and brain. I don’t know if you’ve been dragged into the depths of despair or if your standing on the deceptive heights of your own doing. But in the stillness hear this. A miraculous offer is on the table. God’s love for you moved Christ to take your blows so that now in him you can stand forgiven and alive.
And there’s more. Christ lives to be in you what you alone could never be.
(Source: Passion Atlanta conference, Saturday PM session)