“The divine `yes’ has at last sounded in him, for in him is the `yes’ that affirms all the promises of God.” (II Corinthians 1:19-20 (Moffatt)
Jesus is the Yes — the divine Yes. A great many people today would like to choose Christianity, but they think it is a No to living. “You cannot do this.” “You cannot do that.” “You cannot do the other” — if you are a Christian. This is in fact a denial of the will to live. It is the will to surrender and die.
So listen to my text: “The divine `yes’ has at last sounded in him, for in him is the `yes’ that affirms all the promises of God.” This verse says it is a divine Yes. And it says it has been at last sounded. Because before Jesus life was a No. The ancients did not know how to say Yes.
The greatest No was Buddha. He pondered deep and long on the problem of suffering. He came to the conclusion that existence and suffering were one. The only way to get out of suffering was to get out of existence. The only way to get out of existence was to get out of desire. Cut the root of desire-even for life -then we go out into that actionless, passionless state of Nirvana, the state literally of the snuffed-out candle.
The mood of the present day is cynicism. Many people are soured on life. They are cynical and negative. This age has three sneers for everything and three cheers for nothing. It has a code of “I don’t believe in this;” “I don’t believe in that;” “I don’t believe in the other.” They are trying to live by a No. And it is turning out badly and sadly, for you can’t live by a No. You have to live by a Yes.
Bertrand Russell said that life is a bottle of very nasty wine that leaves a bad taste in your mouth. A great actor was dying and said, “Let down the curtain, the farce is over. There is no reality in life; it is a farce.” Sartre, the French existentialist, said, “Hell is other people.” How can you have a society if you believe other people are hell?
Furthermore, modern materialism comes to a similarly negative conclusion. A very able man who was a chemist and the head of the chemistry department of a great university said to me that man is nothing but combustion, chemical combustion. He flares up for a few years and then dies down to an ash. I said to Dr. George Carver, the great Negro saint and scientist: “You are a chemist. What would you say in reply to this man — that we are nothing but chemical combustion?” He said, “The poor man, the poor man.” That is all he would say. It was a very adequate reply, because if you have a small view of life, a poor philosophy, you are going to be a poor man. If you believe that the end of life is only an ash, then you are going to live life as an ash. A Nothing.
Now is Jesus a Yes or a No? If he is No we cannot take him, because we can’t live by negation. We have to live by affirmation, for we are affirmative beings. We can’t live by No and cynicism.
After these ages of No, No, No comes this statement fron Paul, perhaps one of the greatest that he ever wrote: in him, Jesus Christ, at last, at long last, of No, No, No, has come an affirmation — the divine Yes has sounded! Over against these human No’s a divine Yes has sounded, for in him all the promises of God find their Yes. He is the divine Yes — not a human guess, but a divine Yes! Does he affirm all the promises of God? Yes!