Jesus loves me, this I know... What if that’s actually the key to an identity so free, so abundantly full of life, so solid and lasting that all other identities fade into insignificance? For John, his most defining, grounding, and meaningful identity was found in the simple fact that he was and always would be loved by Jesus. In the end, nothing else mattered. All his accomplishments, connections, titles, writings, and even his very life faded in comparison to the blazing reality that he was loved by Jesus. That's the kind of love that changed John forever. What if the secret to finding ourselves is to be deeply and profoundly loved by Jesus? This series is an invitation to, like John, experience the identity-transforming, life-giving love of Jesus; to discover this Jesus who turned John’s world upside-down and right-side-up. We all want to be pursued, wanted, and loved. Do you realize that the God of the universe loves you; He desires you; He rejoices over you; He is reaching out to you and for you. He’d move heaven and earth to be near you. In fact, He already has. He sent his Logos, not in the abstract, but in the flesh. The "Ultimate Cosmic Reality" and "Agent of Divine Life" has taken up residence among us, making glory, grace, and truth accessible to each one of us. Won't you come and see Jesus?
If you read the Bible, you will find numerous stories where in God’s goodness despair is turned to deliverance, misery is turned to majesty, brokenness is turned to beauty, and grief is turned to glory. These stories are not here to stoke our wishful thinking. These stories show us, in compressed form, the redemption God is weaving into our stories as well. The same God who was working all along to bring redemption into Ruth and Naomi’s stories, is the same God who is right now working redemption in your story and mine. The problem is, we’re too close to the action and so we usually don’t see it. God is weaving an intricate tapestry of redemption. Boaz and Ruth had no idea what their stories would one day mean, how redemption would turn out to be the story of the universe in Jesus. Naomi had no idea her loss and grief and bitterness could be turned to such joy, not only for her, but for the world. And yet, without their knowing, or their permission, God’s mercies were operating in the shadows. And God is doing the same for us today.
The Bible is a masterpiece with a central message, from beginning to end, about Jesus and the redemption that He brings to humanity. And this is true of the Old Testament story of Ruth, as well, as it foreshadows the redeeming love of Jesus. As the story unfold, we see five aspects of Boaz’s redemption of Ruth that foreshadow Jesus. We learn that Boaz's redemption is a voluntary redemption (John 10:18), a covenantal redemption (Matthew 26:27–29), a substitutionary redemption (2 Corinthians 5:21), a sacrificial redemption (Mark 10:45), and a transformative redemption (1 Corinthians 15:21–22). All of these acts point our hearts to the redemption that’s ultimately found in Jesus.
Sometimes doing the right thing is the last thing we want to do. Anyone can do the right thing when there’s no pressure. But doing the right thing when the pressure’s on, that takes character. In this passage, we find four bold moves of obedience that change the trajectory of potentially tragic circumstances for Boaz, Ruth, and Naomis towards goodness. We see these characters do the right thing even when it's tough. 1) Ruth does the right thing in asking Boaz for marriage, even when it raised the stakes of being rejected. 2) Boaz does the right thing in honoring Ruth as a daughter, even when temptation was so readily available. 3) They both do the right thing in honoring this next-of-kin, even when it threatened their hope and happiness. 4) All three do the right thing in waiting on God, even when being still and surrendered is hard.
Our story continues with Naomi having a sightline to redemptive hope from God. But she becomes frustrated in waiting for it all to play out and tries move along God's plan. What do we do when we have a line of sight to the redemption of God, and yet God has us waiting? It's so easy in this moment to take matters into our own hands to to forgo God's perfect timing. In this sermon, we find three warnings against manipulating the timeline of God's grace: 1) We can pursue the right thing at the wrong time. Takeaway: Wait upon God’s perfect timing. 2) We can pursue the right thing in the wrong way. Takeaway: Submit to God’s perfect will. 3) We can pursue the right thing with the wrong heart. Takeaway: Rest in God’s perfect sufficiency.
Grief is the price of love. To love deeply is to grieve deeply when love is bereft. And if you’ve ever grieved deeply, you know how hard it is to avoid becoming bitter. Where does our hope come from, and will there be mercies along our journey? That’s where our story about Naomi and Ruth picks up today. In this sermon, we find four wonders—glimmers of hope—about how God leads us in mercies through the darkness. We learn that grief is only a chapter, mercies are everywhere, God is right here with us, and God’s kindness has just begun.