But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
20Now among those who went up to worship at the festival were some Greeks. 21They came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and said to him, “Sir, we wish to see Jesus.” 22Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. 23Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. ...
... 32And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.” 33He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die. 3
I am a sucker for old school sailor tattoos. Anchors on the forearm. Diving Swallows on the chest. A big heart with like, Sheila scrolled across it. Those always make you cringe don’t they? Yeah, I get that you loved Sheila at the time, but…what about when your leave is over? What about the next port of call when you love…. Betty? Humans are fickle after all. At least that’s the story get in Jeremiah. God sets up a covenant with God’s people that involves them being faithful to God and God being faithful to them and well, it’s a long story but let’s just say that it didn’t really work out that way. Basically they wrote “Yhwy” on their arm and kept their end of the deal for like, 20 minutes until they were like “oh somthin sparkly” and went after other Gods. Soon Baal’s name covered YHWY’s. And lest we judge them too harshly, let me remind us that we all have our somethin’ sparkly distracting us from God.
So anyway, the God of Jeremiah is frankly fed up with how the whole quid pro quo of the original covenant has panned out. It ends up that folks can’t manage to teach God’s law to each other much less keep that law and be faithful to their God. So in Jeremiah God says fine…
I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34No longer shall they teach one another, or say to each other, “Know the Lord,” for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, says the Lord; for I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sin no more.
I imagine those who heard this the first time were all like, and? What do we have to do? When’s the other shoe gonna drop and God’s like, yeah. there is no other shoe. I’ve got you covered. But where does that leave me and my choices? The God of Jeremiah isn’t waiting for God’s people to decide that God will be God for them. The God of Jeremiah isn’t loitering outside the doors of our hearts waiting till we invite Jesus in. God writes God’s word on our heart. It’s like a divine tattoo. And it’s by God’s initiative, not ours. You don’t choose it or invite it. God has made that choice for you. ……..Which can be kind of uncomfortable. For several reasons. Not the least of which is the fact that my heart is a bit of a dubious place for God. Like, I wish God would call before coming over so I could pick up the place first. You know? Get my heart all nice and cleaned up for Jesus? Cause it’s kind of a mess in there. Sometimes my heart is full of love but it feels like love…envy…greed…resentment…are ALL in there….like they have some sort of time share arrangement or something.
But still. God writes God’s word in conflicted, messy human hearts saying I am yours…you are mine. From the least to the greatest…which happens to be problem #2. Couldn’t God be a bit more discerning? I mean I would be if I were God. I’d enter only the cleaned up hearts of the greatest leaving those filthy hearts of the least to fend for themselves. The thing is….God isn’t like that. It’s like in the reading from John … Jesus says, When I am lifted up I will draw all people to myself. It is this indiscriminate Christ who God writes on our hearts.
It is Christ the man of sorrows, Christ the one who says follow me. Christ, friend of sinners and threat to the powers that be. He is indelibly scrolled upon our inmost being. This is to have our creator make a claim on us which is foundational. It is the claim of a God who will go to extraordinary lengths to say I am yours and you are mine. God, so desperate to reach us, came in the form of a servant to write God’s word in the hearts of those who would journey to the cross.
This is different than me inviting Jesus into my heart. Because here I have no choice. It’s felt that way. Especially when I came back to the church after a 10 year…furlough. I had no choice. There was a time when I felt like if I could be something other than Christian I would….but see I can’t get away from him, it feels as though Jesus keeps drawing me to himself – which is beautiful but isn’t always pleasant. Several of you are the same way. I’ve heard your stories. One of you who was raised Unitarian and had a crisis of faith last year. When we met for coffee you described it to me like this: “I think I believe in Jesus”. That was your faith crisis.
Another of you searched every other spiritual path before realizing that Jesus was there like hiding under your bed the whole time. See….sometimes Jesus just hunts your ass down and there’s nothing you can do about it. He is written in your hearts. Some of you have been deeply wounded by the church. You have every reason in the world to stay away and frankly no one would blame you. But Jesus foils our plans of independence. Here you are – the gospel boldly written in you and you walk this road to the cross like Jesus has you in a tractor beam. This is Jesus Lifted up drawing us all to him again and again.
See, Jesus lifted up doesn’t draw all nice people to himself. He doesn’t draw all people with pure hearts to himself. In our reading from John today these Greeks come and say: We want to see Jesus. These outsiders. Pagans. Non-believers. In all their un-circumcized glory walk up to the very Jewish Phillip and say “Well, we want to see Jesus too” It’s like there has been a small cyclone circling around Jesus and now it’s getting bigger…even pulling in the Greeks. And where is this whole “all people” thing gonna end? A more discerning God would have the sense to limit the guest list a bit.
But it gets better because in the Greek it’s not really even that he will draw all people to himself. It’s all things. See, Jesus in his true glory, that is, Christ crucified will draw all Things to himself. I imagine it being like the tornado scene in Wizard of Oz – everything swirling around her house – as in everything – an old cow, miss gulch on her bicycle….pure hearts and poluted ones…from the least to the greatest. God doesn’t wait for our hearts to be pure to write Christ in them. And on the cross to which we have been journeying during Lent, Christ doesn’t draw all nice things to himself. He draws all things to himself. In the glory of his innocent death He says “It’s mine now. You don’t get to choose because in this death I draw all things to myself: Magdalen and Barabas, 501c3’s and 401k’s, Ted Haggart and Mother Teresa, organic kale and cheese whiz” That’s Jesus for you ..embarrassingly indiscriminate drawing all things to himself. Even us.