I sometimes think about the cross
And shut my eyes and try to see
The cruel nails, the crown of thorns
And Jesus crucified for me;
But even could I see Him die,
I would but see a little part
Of that great love, which like a fire,
Was always burning in His heart.
—Bernard of Clairvaux
Well said, St. Bernard. Now it’s our turn to seek and see.
“He never went off subject.” —Journalist Tom Brokaw, of Billy Graham
No one had to ask what his subject was—when you heard the name Billy Graham you knew it was, without apology, Jesus.
Let me meddle a minute…
When others say your name, what do they think of? What do you aspire to be known for? Will it outlive you? Is it greater than you? More than that, what will you be remembered for? That’s the subject of your life.
Billy never went off subject—he knew that everything in life is less than Jesus except the people Jesus died to save. Do we? Like Billy, our subject is known by everyone around us, and it will be our epitaph.
“As the sun is not blown out by the tempest, nor the moon quenched by the dew of night, so is not the gospel destroyed by the sophistries of perverse minds. Wherefore let us comfort one another with these words: “The word of God is not bound.” It will be preached till doomsday.” —C.H. Spurgeon
There are plenty of subjects to preach to our world, but only one can save and will survive the test of eternity. All else is ashes.
Fear not, and preach.
“All the Dachaus must remain standing. The Dachaus, the Belsens, the Buchenwalds, the Auschwitzes—all of them. They must remain standing because they are a monument to a moment in time when some men decided to turn the earth into a graveyard—into it they shoveled all of their reason, their logic, their knowledge, but worst of all their conscience. And the moment we forget this, the moment we cease to be haunted by its remembrance—then we become the gravediggers.” — Rod Serling, “Deaths-Head Revisited,” The Twilight Zone
While some try to deflect blood guiltiness or delete selected events from the history of hell, humanity is charged to either remember or repeat the abominations of which he has proven himself so fully capable. According to the Bible, repetition is inevitable. For now, remember—and remember whom. For thousands of years the Jews are God’s people—He said so and nothing has changed. The devil is never proven more alive and active than in his relentless malice directed at God’s own—and yet God was never proved more present or purposeful than the day He regathered His people to their own historical land after nineteen-hundred years of persecution and near annihilation.
The smoldering wreckage of the Holocaust stands in witness to God’s most astonishing hat-trick—when He fulfilled the Bible’s most absurd prophecy:
“I will bring you back to the land of Israel. Then you, my people, will know that I am the LORD, when I open your graves and bring you up from them. I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Then you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, declares the LORD.’ ” Ezek. 37:12-14
That verse is inscribed over the exit of Yad Vashem, Israel’s Holocaust Memorial. Yes, they know it, too.
So today we remember—for like the Auschwitzes of the world, man’s most hideous efforts will one day dissolve into unimagined miracles. I read the end of the Book.
And He that sat upon the throne said, “Behold, I make all things new.” And He said to me, “Write: for these words are true and faithful.” —God, Revelation 21:5
Imagine that. This is what He does. Here’s your chance.
“Here from this stable, here, from this Nazareth, this stony beach, this Jerusalem, this market place, this garden, this Praetorium, this Cross, this mountain, I announce it to you. I announce to you what is guessed at in all the phenomena of your world. You see the corn of wheat shrivel and break open and die, but you expect a crop. I tell you of the Springtime of which all springtimes speak. I tell you of the world for which this world groans and toward which it strains. I tell you that beyond the awful borders imposed by time and space and contingency, there lies what you seek. I announce to you life instead of mere existence, freedom instead of frustration, justice instead of compensation. For I announce to you redemption. Behold I make all things new. Behold I do what cannot be done. I restore the years that the locusts and worms have eaten. I restore the years [that] you have drooped away upon your crutches and in your wheelchair. I restore the symphonies and operas which your deaf ears have never heard, and the snowy massif your blind eyes have never seen, and the freedom lost to you through plunder and the identity lost to you because of calumny [slander] and the failure of justice; and I restore the good which your own foolish mistakes have cheated you of. And I bring you to the Love of which all other loves speak, the Love which is joy and beauty, and which you have sought in a thousand streets and for which you have wept and clawed your pillow.”—Thomas Howard, Christ the Tiger
Happy New Year.
I confess have a favorite movie—Babette’s Feast*. Like Jesus, Babette prepared a feast for a village of enemies—of each other. The table is set with mercy, peace and reconciliation. I hope you’ll watch it someday. Near the end, Old Lorens, a surprising character in the story, offers a great toast…
“Mercy and truth have met together. Righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another. Man, in his weakness and shortsightedness believes he must make choices in this life. He trembles at the risks he takes. We do know fear. But no. Our choice is of no importance. There comes a time when our eyes are opened and we come to realize that mercy is infinite. We need only await it with confidence and receive it with gratitude. Mercy imposes no conditions. And lo! Everything we have chosen has been granted to us. And everything we rejected has also been granted. Yes, we even get back what we rejected. For mercy and truth have met together, and righteousness and bliss shall kiss one another.” —Old Lorens Lowenhielm, Babette’s Feast
*Rated ‘G’, French-Danish, with subtitles
“THERE EXIST BEINGS WHO…spend more money, waste more time, take more trouble, than would be required for ten good actions, and that gratuitously, for their own pleasure, without receiving any other payment for their curiosity than curiosity…Why? For no reason. A pure passion for seeing, knowing and penetrating into things. A pure itch for talking. And often these secrets once known, these mysteries made public, these enigmas illuminated by the light of day bring on catastrophes, duels, failures, the ruin of families and broken lives, to the great joy of those who have “found out everything,” without any interest in the matter, and by pure instinct. A sad thing. Certain persons are malicious solely through a necessity for talking. Their conversation, the chat of the drawing-room, gossip of the anteroom, is like those chimneys which consume wood rapidly; they need a great amount of combustibles; and their combustibles are furnished by their neighbors.” —Victor Hugo, Les Miserables
The world feasts on fireworks served daily by those who love to watch the world burn—a blue-plate special of flaming bad news and gossip full of all kinds of artificial ingredients.
When will it end?
Jesus is coming.
What can I do?
Bring a heaping course of truth to the table—it’s full of all the Good stuff—hope, life, salvation, Jesus. Show it, tell it, live believably.
Though many have lost their taste for truth, it’s still the main course—and we’re still the waiters.