Captain Smith and Pocahontas. Romeo and Juliet.[i] Their love can’t hold a candle to the love of Bruno and Noelle. Bruno is a young man who is completely infatuated by his beloved, Noelle. For years now, they have truly loved one another and constantly do little things to show their love. Life for them could not be better. One day, Bruno goes to great trouble and expense to obtain a rare, expensive gift for Noelle. Bruno has done his homework and discovered precisely what Noelle wants. In all honesty, Bruno clearly sees why Noelle loved this gift and even loves it himself. After he bought it, he considered, ever so briefly, just keeping it for himself. Although the gift was challenging to find and very expensive, it was worth everything to him to please his Noelle by gifting it to her.
The gift that Noelle desired, and Bruno had acquired for her, was a six-inch leaded-glass orb, perfectly clear, with ribbons of vibrant color dancing through the middle, swirling around each other, but always distinct. As you peer into this web of color, it is like looking at clouds on a warm summer day, where different images appear before your eyes. The globe is mesmerizing, and the workmanship without equal. If you were to be privileged to see this amazing globe, you would instantly understand why so many fairy tales incorporate a crystal ball. You would likely be tempted to peer into it for hours.
Bruno has arranged to meet Noelle, and with great anticipation, he presents the gift to her. She is shocked and overjoyed, moved to tears. She embraces Bruno, kisses him, and tells him how much she loves him. She praises his thoughtfulness and admires his dedication to get her exactly what she wanted. Bruno is happy, to say the least.
Noelle proudly displays this beautiful glass orb where it catches the sunlight, and she can see it often during the day. Every time she sees it, she is reminded of Bruno. Everyone who comes to see Noelle, and there are many, also loves to gaze at this amazing work of art. This gives Noelle the opportunity to regularly brag of Bruno’s generosity and love in offering it to her.
Ah, but then Margie comes into the picture. Margie has known Noelle for years and has always felt inferior to her. Margie realizes just how precious this gift is to Noelle. So one day, she sneaks into Noelle’s home and steals the globe out of jealousy, spite, and hatred. Noelle is distraught when she notices her globe missing. It is always displayed in the same place of prominence. Then when Noelle discovers Margie’s treachery, she is outraged. And Margie has the audacity to brag about her misdeed and besmirch the value of Noelle’s great gift. No words can express the boiling wrath that Noelle feels towards Margie. Noelle remains all but inconsolable for days and days.
Bruno can barely stand to see the pain that his gift has now caused Noelle. If only he had never given her the globe, she would not be in such sorrow now. But as Bruno aches for his love, he ponders how he might make things right and devises a plan. As much as he is repulsed by Margie, he sets up a meeting with her. Only because of his great love for Noelle, he negotiates with Margie to see if he can work out an arrangement. Margie ultimately agrees to sell the gift back to Bruno, but for much, much more than what it cost Bruno originally. Bruno is outraged that Margie would delight in causing Noelle so much grief and hold her prized gift as a ransom. But Bruno decides it is the only way. The next day, Bruno empties his bank accounts, sells his car, his guitar, and everything else he owns of any value. By doing so, he scrapes up just enough money to repurchase the globe from Margie.
Late one night, per Margie’s demands, Bruno and Margie meet, and the exchange is made. Bruno gets home and opens the sack to inspect the globe. Only then does he discover that not only had Margie stolen the precious crystal globe, but she had also defaced it. The ball had been dipped in tar, then rolled around on the ground, picking up dirt, pebbles, straw, and feathers. It was disgusting and smelled rancid – perhaps even a bit of skunk essence mixed in.
Anger renewed, Bruno begins painstakingly cleaning the gift so it might again be acceptable for Noelle. At first, it is simple work, removing large items from the exterior, but as Bruno continues working to restore the once magnificent globe, he finds each layer more difficult to remove. As he gets nearer and nearer to the glassy surface, he works painstakingly to remove only the disgusting tar, while not damaging the precious globe. Bruno labors for days removing the pernicious pitch. When finally the tar has all been removed, Bruno is disheartened to discover that the glass underneath still appears cloudy – the orb lacks its original luster. Days later, Bruno has been able to polish the orb to its original splendor. Perfect – except for one scratch that is so deep it cannot be removed. And that one deep scratch has required much attention, to ensure that none of the wretched tar has remained behind.
Satisfied that the orb has finally been returned to its original beauty, Bruno approaches Noelle. She is still profoundly saddened at the loss of her gift but presses on each day. Bruno calls Noelle to his side and tells her he has a little surprise for her that may cheer her a bit.
“Close your eyes, my love.”
Then Bruno brings the restored orb out and holds it before her.
“Noelle, you may open your eyes now.”
The look of shock and wonder on Noelle’s face is overwhelming. Her eyes widen and she lets out a shriek of joy. Noelle gently receives her resplendent ball, then sets it safely aside and throws herself into Bruno. She wraps her arms around him and kisses him over and over and thanks him as tears roll down her cheeks. Bruno’s heart is bursting inside his chest, seeing the delight of his beloved. And Noelle has never loved Bruno more.
Bruno quietly apologizes that he could not remove the one deep scratch.
Noelle replies, “No, Bruno, it is perfect. Every time I see that scratch, it will remind me even more of your boundless love for me.”
And they both lived happily ever after and the crystal orb was never disturbed again.
This parable is, of course, fictional, but I hope it will be a useful analogy. The great thing about analogies is they help us understand difficult things by relating them to something we already understand. The terrible thing about analogies, is they are never perfect, and if we press the details, they are never completely accurate.
But let me explain my parable to you and you can decide if this rings true. Noelle represents God the Father, and Bruno is Jesus, His beloved Son. Margie is Satan. And the beautiful orb? That would be you and me – and every other person in all of history.
I believe in the Trinity – God the Father, Jesus the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who are One Being, yet three Persons. This is difficult for us to understand since we humans are constrained to only one person per being.[ii] But God does not have human constraints. From before the dawn of time, the Father, the Son and the Spirit all loved One another and lived together in perfect harmony. Yet They agreed that the introduction of intelligent creatures with free will that would be able to share in their love would be good.[iii] The Bible also tells us that all things were created by Jesus Christ.[iv]
My hypothesis is that, in some measure, Adam and Eve, and all their offspring, were created by Jesus and presented to the Father as a precious gift. The Father delights in His people, Jesus is delighted both by His people and that His Father loves them so. The Spirit, who has breathed life, both physical and spiritual, into these creatures, delights in the joy of both the Father and the Son. Love has expanded by the creation of these magnificent creatures called humans.
But the Bible tells us that Satan was jealous of God,[v] and I believe he may have been particularly envious of people. Why would God delight so much in these measly humans when Satan himself was such a wonderous being? So Satan bewitched Adam and Eve into disobeying God[vi]and stole all of humanity from the Father. Since the crystal orb represents humanity, my analogy falters some at this point. For in the story, the sphere did not reject Noelle. But we, Jesus’ gift to the Father, have all turned against the Father of our own free wills.[vii]
But the analogy gets back on track since Jesus paid the highest price to buy back His gift, to redeem humanity, and present us back to the Father. Jesus did not just sell His earthly possessions, but He paid with His lives. Lives? Jesus was executed by the Romans on a cross on Golgotha, and His physical body died. But at that same moment, suspended in time, Jesus died spiritually as well. Jesus, the Son of God, Who delighted in the love of His Father before there was a creation, was suddenly cut off from the Father.[viii] Jesus experienced the full just wrath of His Father, that was rightfully directed to His disobedient, hateful people, and experienced spiritual death on our behalf. [ix] At that critical moment in history, God died. The Son and the Father, two Persons in One Being, were somehow separated.
Jesus bought back His gift at great personal expense[x] and presented redeemed humanity back to the Father.[xi] His Father was delighted, overjoyed. But here is the mystery that my analogy cannot begin to explain. God the Father raised God the Son, Jesus, back to life – both physical and spiritual.[xii] The Triune God has been made whole again. God, One Being, is once again Three in One – Father, Son, and Spirit, and Their joy and love for One another has been elevated, assuming that is even possible for God.
After Jesus rose from the dead, His resurrected body was not completely restored. “Put your finger in the holes in my hand, touch the hole in my side.”[xiii] Jesus will bear the wounds that redeemed us as an eternal reminder of His great love both for His Father and for us. As Michael Card so aptly put it, “When the kingdom comes with its perfected sons, He will be known by the scars.”[xiv]
So each time a man, woman, boy or girl, repents and gives their life to Jesus, another person has been regifted to the Father. The Scriptures tell us that there is rejoicing in heaven whenever someone repents.[xv] I believe the angels dance and hoot and holler. But the One who rejoices the most is God – the Father rejoicing in having His precious gift returned, the Son at the joy He has given to the Father, and the Spirit that He could move the heart of one more beloved soul to bring such joy to the two Persons He loves most.
[i] Fever, Otis Blackwell and Eddie Cooley, 1956. Verses 3 and 4.
[ii] Another imperfect image is Siamese twins – two separate souls sharing parts of one body.
[iii] Genesis 1:26
[iv] Colossians 1:16
[v] Isaiah 14:12-14
[vi] Genesis 3:1-7
[vii] Isaiah 53:6
[viii] Matthew 27:46
[ix] 2 Corinthians 5:21
[x] 1 Corinthians 6:20, 1 Peter 1:18-19
[xi] Isaiah 44:22, Romans 5:10, Colossians 1:22
[xii] Acts 2:32
[xiii] John 20:27
[xiv] Michael Card, Known By the Scars, 1984.
[xv] Luke 15:7, 10