Jesus Writes the Law of Love in our Hearts, Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 22, 2015 at Christ Lutheran Church in El Cerrito, CA
Fifth Sunday in Lent, March 22, 2015
Jeremiah 31:34 Psalm 51: 1-12 Hebrews 5:5-10 John 12:20-33
Jesus Writes the Law of Love in our Hearts
Once I had a ball-point pen in the shape of a cross. It was one that probably advertised a church. I mention it because I think that Christ-on-the-cross writes God’s law into our hearts. In the new covenant, after we broke the old ones by our unfaithfulness, Jesus wrote the law of love onto our hearts, because he was so extremely human. With one part of his story after another we see that he was right there with us and alongside us. He steals right into our hearts before we know it, and shapes our lives in a wonderful way.
How does he touch our hearts? Well, consider Abraham Lincoln. He was born in a log cabin and goes to the White House, which endeared him to us. Jesus! Jesus is born in a stable to an unwed mother, who has to lay him in a food trough to make do for a cradle. We are talking about the Christ, the anointed One of God. How does he get anointed? A woman, who is a sinner, rushes in, bathes his feet with her tears and dries them with her hair and pours the oil over his head. Because the oil was perfume, its fragrance filled the house everywhere, just like her story is told everywhere as part of the Gospel. Now once I watched the anointing of the Archbishop of Canterbury, and believe me, it did not resemble the anointing of Jesus.
The story of Jesus is extravagantly human. He rides a donkey into his capitol, Jerusalem. Once when I ministered in Berlin, the Executive Committee of the World Council of Churches met there. I watched all the church dignitaries arrive chauffeured in stretch limousines, Mercedes Benz, incredibly expensive cars. Then the bishop, who ordained me, Kurt Scharf arrived in a little gray, VW, with his daughter driving him!
Jesus gets a crown of thorns, a silly reed stuck in his hand for a scepter, and they mock him: “Hail King of the Jews!” It does not stop there. Then his thrown is a cross upon which he dies – even though he could have torn the whole world up had he wanted to with legions of angels. But he was constrained by love. That’s why he can write God’s Word, all God’s commands and promises on our hearts.
Not only that, but we have learned to love and trust him, so we invite him into our hearts, saying, “Come into my heart, Lord Jesus. There’s room in my heart for you.” Even though there was no room in Bethlehem’s inn and even though “foxes have holes and birds have their nests, Jesus had no place to rest his head.” So come, Lord Jesus, make your home in us!
Jesus never seems to have written anything, except perhaps when he wrote something on the ground to save the adulterous woman from getting stoned to death, like no one in Afghanistan saved that poor woman from the mob that claimed she had burned pages of the Qur’an! What brutality justified by so-called religion! And the one in Jesus’ time may have been a so-called “honor killing.” Why wasn’t the man being dragged out to be put to death? Maybe Jesus wrote, “You hypocrites. You’re blaming the woman for the violence you did to her!” But what he said was, “Let him who is without sin cast the first stone.”
If Jesus did not write, we know that his disciples could not stop writing about him. Jesus had written about God’s love and forgiveness with big letters on their hearts. And as God’s Word, begging to be written and heard, he got into their hearts and into our hearts, so that we can say, “God is our God and we are God’s people.” We don’t need to be taught. The Master, the Holy Teacher is right in our hearts. The High Priest, the Melchizedek, meaning in Hebrew, the King of Righteousness, is the king of our hearts – and we have all come to know him, from the least of us to the greatest. And to know him is to love him. God has taken us in accepted us and forgiven our sins and even promises to remember our sins no more, to quote the Prophet Jeremiah.
When Philip and Andrew brought the Greeks to Jesus, – they probably wanted to see him in order to become his disciples, Jesus sees how he is moving the world, because in those Hellenistic days, the whole world spoke Greek. It was the common language. Jesus spoke Aramaic, but all the New Testament writers wrote in the common Greek, the Koiné, about Jesus. Even in Rome, the Greek language was used in the services of the churches in Rome for three hundred years. We still have a vestige of that Greek language in our liturgy, the Kyrie: Kyrie eleison, meaning, “Lord, have mercy!” in Greek.
So Christ is glorified, knowing, however, that it will mean going to the cross, dying like a seed, so that a mighty tree could grow, filled with the fruit of the Holy Spirit, in which God’s people could live with the King of Glory in them, drawn by the power of God’s love on the cross, driving the rulers of this world off their thrones, so that as a community, from the least to the greatest, we all know God in Christ and we proclaim sweetly and gently, in a way that fills the world with compassion, “Our God reigns!” Amen.