May 24, 2010

God's Earnest Payment

I wonder if you have ever made a purchase in which you had to put down earnest money. Maybe a down payment on a house, or a deposit on an apartment. Earnest money is money plunked down to demonstrate that you are serious about completing the deal. So serious that you are willing to advance the cash … and willing to forfeit it if you renege on the deal. Earnest money. In earlier times, it wasn’t always money. Sometimes a person would hand over a prized milk cow, or maybe pledge a year’s wheat crop as earnest that he would fulfill a promise, or pay off a debt.

Now what would it say to you if you were a poor, unemployed worker – desperate and unable to provide for yourself and your family … and what if a wealthy man came up to you in the unemployment line and said, ‘I’d like to draw up a contract in which I will pledge to give you as much food, as many hours, and as many resources as it will take to keep your family afloat from now until the end of time. I am going to promise – and put it in writing – that I will “freely give you all things.”’ That’s a pretty big pledge, is it not? Not even the federal government can do that (although they are getting closer)! It’s an amazing promise! So much so that you would probably laugh the man out of the building! ‘Come on, buddy. Nobody makes promises like that. Get real.’

But then imagine that that man went out to his car and came back inside with his little boy – with his only son. And what if he put him forward and said: ‘You aren’t sure that I am serious? I’ll tell you what I am going to do. To prove how serious I am about giving you everything you need … let me start by handing over my own son. Let me start by giving you my little boy. He is here to help you. He will work alongside you. And more than that, He will be proof that I am serious about this. If I am lying, or if I renege, well then I will have handed over my son to total strangers negligently, and for no good purpose.’

Now you know the man is serious. But of course it would never happen in the human realm, would it? I am not sure that it should happen on that level. But it has happened on the spiritual plane, has it not? “He who did not spare His own Son” (Romans 8.32), “but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”. Do you hear what God is saying there? ‘You want proof that I will really give you everything you need? If, because I love you, I would hand over My only Son; My most prized loved one – to be beaten, spat upon, mocked, tried, and crucified – don’t you think I am more than willing to give you the money for next month’s rent? Don’t you think I am more than willing to heal you if that would be best? Don’t you think I will help you through your fear of sharing Jesus with that neighbor? Why would I give you My very best – My only Son – and then withhold something so small from you?’

Do you see? Jesus is, in a sense, God’s earnest. We say it reverently. And we realize, of course, that He is much more than that. He is the sacrifice for our sins. He is our high priest. He is our teacher. He is our example. He is our friend. He is our King. But, in addition to all these things, Jesus is also God’s earnest; God’s good-faith deposit; God’s proof that He will fulfill His contract with those who believe. Jesus is the yes to all God’s promises. If God would go so far as to give us His Son, then He would surely give us anything that would be for our good! That’s what Paul is saying. And I hope that is what you believe … for yourself. “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give [you] all things?”

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