It’s time to put away Christmas. It’s also time to quit thinking of Jesus as a baby and remember His Mission: Saving souls!
1 Like snow in summer or rain in harvest, honor is not fitting for a fool. So is continuing to think of Jesus as a baby.
Many people pay homage to Jesus for coming to earth to save us, but they never stop to think about Him growing up and becoming an itinerant preacher, a Rabbi. What was His message? “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near” (Matthew 4:17). There are three interpretations that have been used: “is at hand,” “is here,” and “has come near.” The basic meaning is that what was far away has arrived and is imminent. Have you ever thought of God as far away? Sometimes it feels like He is. But, that is exactly what Christ came to remedy! Paul tells us in Romans 10:8-9 what the New Covenant is all about:
8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.
Paul is quoting verses from Deuteronomy 30, which is a prophetic chapter about God circumcising our hearts (a great chapter that he references many times in his letters). He is synthesizing the old with the new using a teaching that John gives us in His Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.” “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” “The law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” John 1:1, 14, 17. Jesus is the Word. Therefore, salvation comes through believing that Jesus is the fulfillment of the law. In Christ, we have found favor in God’s sight. God left the sins of mankind unpunished until Christ died on the cross, on which He took ALL sin to the grave with Him. Jesus, who has risen from the dead and ascended back to His throne at the right hand of God, calls us to believe in His sacrifice and to give our lives to Him. It’s a one-time thing and a daily thing: once for justification (just-as-if-I’d-never-sinned) and then each day for sanctification (the daily sacrificing of ourselves and living for Him, thus becoming more and more like Christ), as we look forward to our future glorification (receiving our new, imperishable bodies that never tempt us to sin and never wear out).
If you have heard these truths before, but don’t know where to find them in your Bible, I challenge you to read Romans. As you do, look up each reference that is at the bottom of the page or at the end of each paragraph. Learning where Paul got his information helps us understand his teachings. NOTE: The glorification part is from 1 Corinthians 15–another good chapter to study!
Have fun with Him digging into His Word. He thought enough of us to write down what He wants us to know. The least we can do is learn it!
Abba, may this coming year be one of great learning for us. I know that at our church, we will be emphasizing prayer, which goes hand-in-hand with Your Word. On a general level, prayer is us talking to You, and reading Your Word is You talking to us. I know it’s much more than that, but it’s a simple way to look at the two. May we be diligent in both, “pressing on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us.” (Philippians 3:12). Have Your way in us, O LORD, and DON’T LET GO! Amen.