September 10, 2017
Imagine if I came to your home with a large plate with a silver cake cover on top and said, “Yesterday I baked a delicious, moist, chocolate cake with buttercream frosting.” Once you recovered from the surprise that I baked a cake, you’d be even more surprised if I said, “As I was eating the last piece, I thought of you. Just before I took the final bite, I put down my fork and thought, ‘I’m taking these crumbs to my friend.’”
How would you feel?
Contrast that emotion with the one you would have if I knocked on your door and said, “I pulled this cake out of the oven, frosted it, and brought it over for you to enjoy – although I did bring a fork in case you want to share!”
That’s a very different scenario, and it contrasts the way we treat God and the way He treats us. We tend to offer Him crumbs, while He offers us His best, and He offers it to us first.
This principle is stated clearly in 1John 4:19. “We love because He first loved us.” God always is the initiator in our relationship with Him. You came to church today because His grace prompted you and you responded. Any good we do is done in cooperation with Him, and in response to His action in us first.
Not only does God act first, He gives us His best. In describing Jesus, St. John the Evangelist says the eternal Word “became flesh and made his dwelling among us, and we saw his glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son.” (John 1:14) St. Paul calls him “the firstborn among many brothers.” (Romans 8:29) And the Father sent His Son as a sacrifice. He didn’t redeem us with an apostle, or an angel, or a prophet or preacher. He gave His best.
Jesus is not only the firstborn, he is the firstfruit. St. Paul says, “now Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.” (I Cor 15:20). ‘Firstfruit’ is a term for the beginning of a harvest – literally the first apples of an apple harvest, or first grapes, or first grains of wheat. When you go to a roadside fruit stand, the farmer gives you a sample as if to say, “Try this – I am confident you’ll want more.” Jesus is the firstfruit of God’s harvest. He will do with those who believe what He did with Jesus: call us out of the grave. (To be continued!)