“For as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes….” (2 Corinthians 1:20).
In my last pastorate, on three occasions my congregation hosted foreign mothers and their babies who had come to New Orleans for life-saving surgery for the child. Once or twice, they also took in the interpreters.
This was a considerable undertaking. For as long as three months, families in our church had these two adults and one infant as house-guests, with others in the congregation shuttling them to and from our Children’s Hospital each day and helping with expenses.
It was a huge event, but one my people did well. I was proud of them, and am to this day.
But I will not soon forget the first time we did this.
I took a phone call from a representative of an international ministry based here in the states and headed by a famous minister. My name was one of several he had received from our local seminary as a pastor who might be interested in helping to host this mother, child, and interpreter. He said, “I’ve called six or eight pastors in the New Orleans area. So far, most won’t even return my calls. One or two showed interest but nothing more.”
I said, “You can quit calling. You’ve found the church. We can do this.”
We swapped information and I promised to share this with my people, who I knew would jump at the chance to help.
A few days later, after hearing nothing more from the man, I learned he was still calling pastors in the area. So I phoned him.
“Why are you still trying to find churches to do this? I told you we would do it.”
He said, “You said it so quick I figured you didn’t know what you were getting into. This is more than anything you’ve ever done before.”
I said, “My people will do this. Just tell us what you want us to do.”
And we did.
I’ve not forgotten how he was so slow in taking ‘yes’ for an answer.
Jesus Christ was a ‘yes’ kind of Savior.
Consider these instances found across the gospels….
–In Mark 1, when a leper breaks all kinds of laws and runs to the Lord, he says, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” Jesus said, “I am willing,” and reached out to touch the untouchable, healing Him. He is a willing Lord.
–In Mark 2, when four men bring their paralyzed friend to Jesus and then tear open the roof and lower him into the crowded room, Scripture says that “seeing their faith” prompted the Lord not only to heal the man, but first to forgive him of his sins. We must not overlook how no one had even asked for the man’s sins to be forgiven. Jesus is eager to forgive.
–In Mark 3, with the religious opponents surrounding Him in the synagogue, daring Him to heal the man with the withered hand on this, a Sabbath, Jesus nevertheless could not pass up a man in need. Even though the poor fellow never asked for anything, and in spite of the hostility filling the room, our Lord healed him. Jesus is a courageous, determined Lord, the kind you would only dream of if He did not exist.
–Jesus wept over Jerusalem in Matthew 23:37 and Luke 19:40, as He thought of the rejection of its citizens and the coming destruction by the Roman army. “How often I would have gathered you unto myself the way a mother hen does her little chicks. But you were unwilling.” The problem is not with Him; He’s a willing Lord.
Jesus is far more willing to bless than we are to receive a blessing.
–On the cross, our Lord prayed for those still in the very act of crucifying Him. As they jeered and cursed, taunted and spat, He said, “Father, forgive them. They know not what they do.” (Luke 23:34).
What a Savior! Loving the haters and forgiving before they even finish sinning!
Forgiving without being asked, loving while being tortured. No wonder they blindfolded Him before they beat Him (Mark 14:65). Anything to keep from looking into those eyes!
We wish we could say to Planet Earth: “Why are you still looking for a Savior when you already have One? Why are you still trying to carve out your own salvation and earn your own way to God when the Way now stands before you?”
Why can you not take yes for an answer?
Jesus is the ‘yes’ Lord who deserves a ‘yes’ faith.
Many years ago, a traveler on foot waited by a swollen creek for someone to give him a ride to the other side. As people passed over on horseback and in wagons and buggies, the man continued standing there. Finally, as another group approached, he walked up to one of the men on horseback to ask for a lift to the other side. The horseman extended his hand and the man climbed up behind him.
A few minutes later after he was safely deposited on the other side, someone asked him, “Mister, do you know who that was? That was President Thomas Jefferson who just gave you a ride. Of all people, why did you ask him for a ride?”
The traveler said, “I didn’t know who he was. All I knew was that he had a ‘yes’ face.”
Of all the things we learn about the Lord Jesus in Scripture, nothing is more obvious or more encouraging than His approachability. He was (and still is) a ‘yes’ Savior.
“He is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32)
What then shall we say to these things? “Since God is for us, who can be against us?” (Romans 8:31)
The question remains why can we not take yes for an answer?
Mankind turns away from a gospel of grace to create a theology of wrath and anger, judgment and punishment. Jesus spoke to this when He said, “God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world should be saved through Him” (John 3:17).
We reject the love of God because that is so good it surely must be too good. As the psalmist said, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high; I cannot attain to it” (Psalm 139:6).
Our Lord gave the perfect metaphor through the Prophet Jeremiah nearly six centuries before our Lord’s birth: “My people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters and hewed out for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13).
We just cannot believe it could be this wonderful, this free, this abundant, this glorious, and this available, so we wander off into the desertland to our own devices and thus to die of thirst.
In Heaven, they must look at humanity’s idiocies and think, “What more could He do? What’s wrong with those people?”