One of my favorite shows EVER was “I Love Lucy.” For those of you old enough to remember the show, it’s just about the best sitcom ever written. It was so unique for its time, and timeless in its lasting impact and depiction of the culture of the early 1950s. To this day, if ever I see an episode on TV, I turn it on … laughing at whatever is presented as if it were the very first time I watched it, as I quote nearly line-for-line.
A beloved episode, called “Down the Line of Translation” includes a scene (which you can watch at http://www.tv.com/shows/i-love-lucy/down-the-line-of-translation-2911569/) wherein Lucy is found holding counterfeit French Francs while traveling through Europe. She is arrested after trying to pay a restaurant bill and brought to a local jail where Ricky tries to rescue her. Unfortunately, a language barrier exists since Lucy spoke only English and Ricky only English and Spanish. Fortunately, one of the police comes up with an idea and has a drunk prisoner brought out to help. The idea … the police sergeant speaks only French, another officer French and German, the drunk prisoner German and Spanish, Ricky Spanish and English, and Lucy only English. Hence, they form a line of translation, without which one can only imagine how convoluted and ineffective the crucial conversation would have been.
This brought to mind some parallels with my reading through John 16 – 20 this week, stimulated from a passage in John 16 (verses 20 through 24) …
I tell you the truth, you will weep and mourn over what is going to happen to me, but the world will rejoice. You will grieve, but your grief will suddenly turn to wonderful joy. It will be like a woman suffering the pains of labor. When her child is born, her anguish gives way to joy because she has brought a new baby into the world. So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy. At that time you won’t need to ask me for anything. I tell you the truth, you will ask the Father directly, and he will grant your request because you use my name. You haven’t done this before. Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy.
It’s often overlooked, I think, that in addition to forgiveness for our sins, grace to make it through the every day sort of troubles, and a promise to provide us eternal life with Him in heaven, another gift of Jesus’s death and resurrection was the elimination of the “middleman” in our fellowship with God. When we look at the Old Testament, we note communing with God oftentimes occurred having some sort of intermediary mechanism. Principally, this occurred through the high priest in the holy of holies in the temple. Only the high priest could approach God’s presence in the holy of holies, and even then it was only under certain circumstances … ceremonial cleansing, preparatory steps, etc.
We note in Matthew 27:51 that at the moment of Jesus’s death, “… the curtain in the sanctuary of the Temple was torn in two, from top to bottom.” In symbolic and actual form, this shows us that Jesus’s death removed the divide between us and God … and note that it was torn from top to bottom, because only God could remove it.
Okay, so what does this mean to us in practical terms? Well, it’s sort of like what we noted in the “I Love Lucy” episode I mention above. In a way, our previous fellowship with God was impeded by the scourge of our sin, creating a situation where we needed significant intermediation … translation, as it were. Our ability to communicate and commune with God was disrupted by irreconcilable differences in our “language.” His … perfectly holy and sinless. Ours … completely the opposite. We couldn’t approach God directly, because our way of talking was diametrically different and opposed.
Today, because of Jesus’s sacrificial propitiation for our sins, He has reconciled our linguistic gap with God, so … if we walk with Jesus … by Jesus’s loving action, we can approach the very Creator of the universe directly … personally.
Many religions, religious movements, and religious “leaders” would have us think that we can only converse with God through an intercessor. Some would argue that God is too big and too powerful for us to be able to know Him in a personal, approachable way … except that if He is so big and powerful He is big enough and powerful enough to provide a way for us to contact Him and to contact us in return (hence, their argument is self-refuting on its face).
God not only can find a way, He did make a way. A way to personally have relationship directly with Him. Intimately. The Way. When our selfish pride formed the basis for our sinful actions and separated us from Him, He sent His one and only Son to remove the chasm.
There’s no translation … or translator needed. We don’t have to pray to or through anyone else to reach Him. Not only do we not NEED to, we SHOULDN’T … under what circumstances does it make sense to go to or through someone subordinate when we can go straight to the top?
When we’re unsure where we stand, He stands at the ready to talk and minister to us. When we’re unsure which way to go, He’s right there to show the direction. When we’re in a dark and scary place, He’s there to illuminate our circumstances and make a way to safety. Personally. Intimately. It’s what He’s always longed for since He created us, and He’s provided the Way to make it happen.
All we have to do is accept the free Gift He offered us in Jesus. The rest is up to Him … and is already handled. We have a direct relationship, communion, and communication right there for the taking.
No translation needed.