When heaven came down to our world in the Person of Jesus of Nazareth truly amazing things happened. A brilliant light pierced the thick darkness. Virtue traveled the dusty trails of Palestine. Wisdom was distilling as the gentle dew upon commoners on the hillsides of Judah.
For a time and for a few there was a reprieve of the tragedy of the fall of man. For in His Presence, disease and death lost their dominion. The hearts of children were turned toward their parents, as the hearts of parents were turned toward their children. The powers of nature sat at His blessed feet like an obedient dog ready to do His bidding. Holiness, goodness, truth, and power were resident in Him. They were completed in Him.
If anyone ever had the right to demand deference from others, surely it was the Prince of Eternity. Think about the production that occurs today when a dignitary visits a location. The U.S. president doesn’t ask permission to come to your town. He just announces his coming and roads are closed, traffic is re-routed or held at a standstill, and local law-enforcement personnel are commandeered for bodyguard service.
How would it be, if tomorrow, our president’s car pulled up to the village limits of Somerset only to be met by our local police and council members who refused him access? Unthinkable! Why, it would be an international incident!
But one day Jesus wished to enter a certain village and the residents refused Him access (Luke 9:51ff). How will Jesus respond? Two of His disciples had an idea.
“Let’s have an encore of the Mt. Carmel event, Lord. Let us call down fire from heaven, and let these villagers be the burnt sacrifice.” I wonder how many lesser lords would have thought that was a great idea. But this was so far from the heart of our Christ that He immediately rebukes them and leads them away to a different village. Our meek Lord knew that there were purposes which power could not perform. There were goals that brute force could not achieve. How do you make a seed grow? How do you cause a flower to open in full bloom?
How do you get a child to choose goodness? How do you force someone to love you? Ever try to push a string? You can’t pressure such things. You can only plant the seed, provide water and patiently watch over it. You can only show someone your heart…your love…your desire. Then you wait and watch for a response, a trembling, a glimmer of possibility. And if you see that, you try to feed it.
In the Gospel of John (6:43ff), Jesus responds this way to some grumbling listeners, “No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draws them…” What did He mean? He meant that following Him was not a mere matter of learning some formulas and coming up with all right answers. He meant that having a relationship with Him required God doing a work in their hearts through His truth…a work with which they were willing to cooperate. The crux of this heart work by God is revealed by Jesus Himself in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all people unto Myself.”
Our Savior does not elbow His way into our hearts. He wins His way in. If we are winnable, His Cross wins us. He does not trick us. He does not have His people make us an offer we can’t refuse. Of all the amazing things Jesus did, surely this ranks high, He respected all humans as being given a fearful right…the right to choose for themselves.
Our meek Savior stands nearby as His story is shared with us. He watches for our response, a trembling, a glimmer of possibility. How eager He is to enter our hearts. But no forcing. He will not have us as unwilling slaves but as love’s joyful servants. May His meekness possess us to His bright glory!
Written and submitted by Doug Oakes, minister, Woodlawn Church of Christ, Zanesville.