I have fallen just a little more in-love with my God… For I was lost, and now am found…
I have been reflecting on the Gospel passage that describes Christ returning to Nazareth to preach and the reaction of the people to Him there (Luke 16:16-30).
There are such miracles in that story – though nobody is blind, deaf or dumb, though no lepers are healed, or people brought back from the dead, while no loaves are divided among thousands – there are such miracles there.
Firstly, while He is there, preaching, “All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. ‘Isn’t this Joseph’s son?’ they asked.” (Luke 16:22).
How wonderful it must have seemed at first. After all, we are initially told that people LOVED Him. They thought He was marvellous. They liked listening to Him. They wanted to hear what He had to say. After all, right at the beginning they liked what they heard. Reading those words, my heart breaks. After all, that was not the only time that Christ was loved by the crowd… On Palm Sunday – mere days before He was tortured to death, the people called out “‘Blessed is the King who comes in the name of the Lord!’” (Luke 19:38). The people loved God on that day too – mere days before they shouted, “Crucify Him. Crucify Him.” (Luke 23:21).
Have you ever wondered at the fickleness of the human soul? After all, one minute people were marvelling – I was too – and the next, they were trying to kill God! How terrible such a thing is. How terrible am I! How did Poor God accept their initial love without contempt? What a miracle that Christ did not spit in their faces – that He does not spit in mine – when they offered such superficial love to Him… That is what I deserve – and more – when I offer only half my heart to God… Why should He look at me with love when I am so fickle and weak, and yet, He saw every human soul in that crowd with LOVE. He sees my worthless little soul with love too. And what could be more miraculous than that, I think to myself.
But then, I read on, because Christ did not merely ACCEPT the worthless love He was offered, He EXCUSED its littleness… And if His acceptance and love is not a great enough miracle, surely the EXCUSES He makes for us are worth stopping to marvel!
“‘Truly I tell you,’ He continued, ‘no prophet is accepted in his hometown.’” (Luke 16:24).
And this was not the only time that Christ made excuses for us. When He was dying on the Cross, did He not say, “‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:34)?
And, is that not miraculous? I mean, if one of my beloved children steps onto my toe, I have a hard time closing my mouth and stopping my shriek of pain – and Christ – Christ was hung up with nails on a Cross, naked and alone, to die, and He not only kept His cries inside His heart, He BEGGED forgiveness for me! He begged forgiveness for you too.
And just as I am beginning to process the miracle of this love and acceptance of God, I read the next part of the chapter… “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove Him out of the town, and took Him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw Him off the cliff. But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way.” (Luke 16:28-30).
And perhaps, the greatest miracle of all, is the way that Christ left the men who were trying to kill Him... For “…He walked right through the crowd and went on His way.” (Luke 16:28-30).
How marvellous. He walked fearlessly through a mob who wished Him dead and He did it knowing that He was born to suffer and die. And yet – even so – even suspecting that this may have been the moment where He would be put to death, or even injured, or harmed, Christ simply walked through the mob.
How miraculous is that? He was not afraid. He did not doubt. He knew that God would turn ALL things to the GOOD. If something good happened, then it would be good, and if something bad happened then that too would be good. And so, in having perfect wisdom, Christ understood that and knew that all would be GOOD, and that knowledge meant that He simply walked through.
And this was not the only time that Christ walked. He walked to Calvary as well, “As the soldiers led Him away, they seized Simon from Cyrene, who was on his way in from the country, and put the cross on him and made him carry it behind Jesus.” (Luke 23:26).
And of all the things that I read this day, it is surely the walking of Christ that is the most miraculous of all…
And I am humbled to have read these words today, because in this tiny fragment of the Gospel according to Saint Luke, which was written two thousand years ago, I have fallen just a little more in-love with my God… For I was lost, and now am found…
And the most miraculous part of it all, is that God loves me, excuses me and walks with me through it all…
And when I stop and think about that, I am crippled with awe – because there is something so miraculous in realising that!
For with prayer, I stand on Holy Ground where everything is clear. Here. At the Foot of the Cross.