On a windy and cold summer day 20 years ago, I stood in the Aberdeen airport in Aberdeen, Scotland, waiting for my older brother to fly in from America. At the time, my wife and I lived in Scotland while I was studying theology with James Torrance. My brother, like me, was a keen golfer, so he was coming for a visit and a few rounds on some of the famed links in bonnie Scotland.
As I waited, I noticed a young man about 30. There were at least 100 other people scurrying about in the airport, but for some reason this young man grabbed my attention. He was obviously waiting for someone and with not a little excitement. Pacing over to the arrivals monitor, he would check his watch and then walk back to the window. This went on for 15 minutes or so, when he stopped his ritual and positioned himself in front of one of the terminal doors.
Before long a plane taxied to the terminal, the doors flew open and people hurried through on their way home or to catch their next flight or to find the baggage claim area. Having no clue as to why, I was nevertheless riveted to the young man. Then it happened. A blond-headed little boy of about 11 walked through the doors and stopped dead still. Like an alarmed deer, his eyes scanned the airport. Then he saw his dad and ran to his arms with the fire of the universe. There were tears of joy and laughter. No parent could have watched without tears themselves.
The gospel is the stunning news that the Father’s Son has received us into his life. We don’t make him part of our world; he has made us part of his world…”
For me, it was like some kind of Einsteinian relativity moment. The airport itself and all within it seemed to slow down, as if everyone had paused to watch. I can still see the little boy’s face. He was home. Then I heard a voice inside my own heart calling out, “Baxter, Baxter, there is the gospel.”
It was as though the Father was telling me, “The little boy is my Son, Jesus Christ. There is the resurrection. There is the ascension. And there is his welcome home into my embrace. And the good news, Baxter, is that he has you and the whole world with him.”
Could it be that we have underestimated Jesus Christ? Could it be that our American Lone Ranger individualism has blinded us to the core of the gospel itself? Could it be that Jesus Christ is not simply one man among others, but the One in and through and by and for whom all things were created and are sustained (John 1:1- 3; Colossians 1:16-17; Hebrews 1:1- 3)? And could it be that when this One became one of us he did not break his association with us, but made it far stronger? And could it be that what became of him became of us? Could it be that when he died, we died (2 Corinthians 5:14)? Could it be that when he rose, we rose with him (Ephesians 2:5-6; 1 Peter 1:3)? Could it be that when he ascended, he lifted us up into the Father’s embrace (Ephesians 2:6)?
How odd it must seem to the angels to hear preachers imploring us to receive Jesus Christ into our lives, as if we managed to make it into existence and live up until now without him. Have you ever asked your children to receive you into their lives?
Think on this: The gospel is not about us receiving an absent Jesus into our lives. The gospel is the stunning news that the Father’s Son has received us into his life. We don’t make him part of our world; he has made us part of his world, part of his life with his Father.
Can you see yourself and the human race, and indeed the whole cosmos in that little boy’s arms as his father embraced him? Christian faith says, “Amen, yes, Lord, this is who you are and this is who we are. I believe; help my unbelief.”
Author: C. Baxter Kruger