Have you ever seen a miracle? I suppose we see them everyday… It’s all miracle. But, have you ever seen a miracle that was impossible to explain away? I have. The first time it happened, I didn’t just see it, I felt it, and it really freaked me out… And then I got mad. I thought, “You can do this, Jesus?! Why don’t you do this all the time?”
It’s like when Jesus rose from the dead. You know, He was crucified for the whole world to see, but He was resurrected for only some to see and even then He was like… “sneaky.”
At first Mary thought He was the gardener. The disciples thought He was just a guy on the side of the lake… until there nets swarmed with fish. He appeared to be a fellow traveler to the disciples on the road to Emmaus—asking questions, playing dumb, engaging them in conversation—until He broke the bread at dinner, they recognized him, and immediately He vanished. And Scripture teaches that “Jesus incognito,” was on purpose.
Have you ever wondered, “So Jesus, if it’s so important that people have faith in you, why didn’t you appear in resurrected glory on the steps of the Senate in Rome, rather than incognito on some country road? Or why don’t you materialize for Anderson Cooper on CNN, perform a miracle, so we’d all have no choice but to believe? Supposedly you control everything, manipulate all circumstances… So what are you doing: present but hidden, playing hard to get, raising questions, causing us to seek?”
Well maybe He’s doing what He said He’d do. On Palm Sunday in John 12:32, a week before He’s crucified Jesus announces to the crowd, “…And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.”
That word, “draw,” is a word that can also be translated “romance.” What’s He doing? Maybe He’s romancing… someone?
It was 1977; Masterpieces of American Literature, Heritage High School – Mrs. Rydberg read the seating chart. She placed Hiett next to Coleman. I said a prayer of thanks under my breath. Sincerely, I was a geek. But now, I was sitting next to a total “hottie.” And then and there I had a mission—I would romance her to myself.
I would be “sneaky.” I would be present to her every Monday, Wednesday and Friday during American Lit…present but hidden—hidden as her future lover, spouse and lifelong companion. Unbeknownst to her, I would manipulate circumstances. I would control the environment to be conducive to love. I’d take her to scary movies (just so she’d cling to me). I would allow her to steal my junior thesis and forgive her (just to demonstrate my grace). I’d advance and withdraw. Maybe even play hard to get. I’d create a longing within her, a hope in her, a faith in her, a love for me in her – Love.
That means I couldn’t force her. If I had money (which I didn’t), I couldn’t buy her love or it wouldn’t be love. I couldn’t argue her into love with me, threaten her into love with me, force her into love with me or she wouldn’t be in love with “me.”
I would romance her. I would seek to control everything, except the one thing I wanted most – her heart loving me in freedom.
It would be her “free decision”…but created by me, according to plan, with romance. I would romance her to myself such that on the day I dropped to my knees and said “Would you marry me?” she’d scream “YES!” and go insane with joy.
Perhaps the world’s greatest miracle is that I did that and it worked! Thirty-four years and four children later, I can tell you, it worked. She screamed, “YES!” and wouldn’t stop jumping for joy. I created a “free choice” in her with romance.
But now imagine if that first day in English class I would’ve sat down next to Susan and said, “Hey you’re a ‘hottie’ and I’ve decided you’re going to marry me; give birth to 4 children by me; wash my dirty underwear and love it. I’m the logical choice. I love you best and if you don’t say “yes,” you can go to Hell. So hope in me; have faith in me; love me; marry me. NOW!”
If I had done that, she’d have totally freaked… and run out of the room.
In the Old Testament, God seems to have that problem quite a bit. God shows up and people not only run out of the room they utterly disintegrate… not because He’s a “geek,” (like me), but because they’re consumed by his unmitigated power and glory.
Well Jesus said, “When I am lifted up…” And John tells us that the lifting up was a reference to how He would die—stripped of his power and glory, lifted on a cross and clothed in weakness—“when I’m lifted up, I will draw.” Like, “I will draw in weakness.” But if He’s God…,
Perhaps that weakness is stronger than all creation.
Perhaps all creation is a stage for that love, in weakness—a romance.
Perhaps He’s still clothed in weakness and still drawing, still romancing.
Perhaps He wants you to fall in love with him, NOT what He owns or what He can do,
but Him—who He is.
Perhaps faith isn’t the answer to a test question, like “Does God exist?” as if He’d be
impressed with a positive answer.
Perhaps faith is trust—trust in who God is.
Scripture tells us: “God is Love.”
Perhaps you’re being romanced by Love, to trust Love, hope in Love, fall in love with
Do you ever long for Love; Wish this world was full of Love; Wish that people loved Love? See? Maybe it’s working. Maybe God is working and God is Love and this is the Good News:
“Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people unto myself.” Said Jesus, who is God.
Perhaps He won’t fail. Perhaps one day you’ll hear his voice and see him standing before you and you won’t run in terror of his glory, you’ll say “YES!” and go insane with joy. According to him, in John 12, we all will.