4 Easter, May 12
“After this I looked, and there was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, from all tribes and peoples and languages, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, robed in white, with palm branches in their hands. They cried out in a loud voice, saying, ‘salvation belongs to our God who is seated on the throne, and to the Lamb’” (Rev. 7:9- 17). The lamb before the throne is the one whose name is above every other name. Looking out over a great multitude, the lamb sees not only all tribes and peoples and languages, but every face to which is assigned, by providence, a name. No mortal being can count the number before the throne and the lamb, but God’s accounting is perfect and his naming is irrevocable.
Changing metaphors: “I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father” (John 10:14-15). The shared knowledge of the Father and the Son is the love that once moved over the face of the waters. This love was everything before there was anything. Begetting, begotten, and shared love pulse in the blackness of what may seem to be nothing. This love comes to humanity in Christ. “My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish. No one will snatch them out of my hand. … The Father and I are one” (John 10:27-30). The Father and the Son are one in One Love. Jesus knows us and we know him in this love.
Gregory the Great offers this: “See if you are his sheep, see if you know him; see if you know the light of truth. You know, I say, not through faith, but through love, not by conviction, but by action” (Homilies on the Gospels 14:3-6).
Love works in this way. Love gives and returns and shares in endless exchange. Love has a voice and love gives a name. A story will help. “Now in Joppa there was a disciple whose name was Tabitha, which in Greek is Dorcas. She was devoted to good works and acts of charity. At that time she became ill and died” (Acts 9:36-37). Peter, acting in persona Christi, addressed her by name. “Tabitha, get up” (Acts 9:40). Even his actions are in Christ. “He gave her his hand and helped her up” (Acts 9:41). Receiving the hand of Peter, she received the hand of Christ, who then handed her to a Father from whose protection she could not fall. “No one will snatch [her] out of the Father’s hand” (John 10:29). She is presented alive in the life of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
Her new life is much more than resuscitation. She is alive in the love that holds all things in being, for the Father has given everything to the Son. She is named in love, as are all things. “He determines the number of the stars; he gives to all of them their names” (Ps. 147:4). The love given to her is the same love that gives life and being to creation from moment to moment.
On the deathbed of our sin, weighed down by a burden of guilt and shame, we wait and languish. Jesus comes and speaks each and every name, and reaches with the strong hand of his grace, pulling us up from death to life, life everlasting, life evermore. He brings us to singing and blessing and wisdom and honor and thanksgiving forever and ever.
Look It Up
Read John 10:29.
Think About It
“Whatever the Father has given me” is “All that the Father has he gives to me.”