The songs beseeching God to give me more of Himself, strike a false note – He has already given me all of Himself – what he wants is more of me.
“You are right Ian. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob is here with you – Yahweh – the Creator of everything is here. I have been here before you, inviting you to come close to Me and listen to Me. I am present here through Jesus and His Spirit, seeking the closest bond of love with you. So as the year stretches out before you remember that everything that is happening to you in your life, what you experience as joyful and pleasant as well as the challenges. They are all intended to draw you closer to Me in a bond of peace and love. Yes you matter to Me – your life matters to Me – it is important. That is what lies behind my whole purpose for the universe. And as you experience this bond growing deeper and deeper – remember it is not only for you – it is a gift available to anyone who seeks it. If it is really important to you then continue to share it with whoever I bring across your path – shout it from the mountain tops – that the world can hear.”
As the new year begins, it is fitting that we come to the end of this magnificent gospel which Matthew, divinely inspired has left for us, as it should provide us with a suitable launching pad for the rest of the year.
Firstly we come to the description of the resurrection of Jesus in ch 28. This is perhaps the most important event of the gospel. Not because it outshines the sacrificial death of our Saviour in importance, but because it underlines it and adds a number of exclamation marks. This is not just a blowing of life back into a corpse. Remember the resurrection of Lazarus, “He has been dead 4 days, by this time there is a bad odour” (John 11:39). From the minute the circulation stops decomposition sets in. The tissues are changed and broken down. To raise a person from the dead, apart from the fact that it is a totally supernatural act, requires an actual recreation of that person. In the case of Jesus, when He was seen again His physical characteristics had changed completely.
Now if one sees to what extent the bible, in various places, emphasizes the fact that His resurrection was witnessed by many people, one realizes to what extent this act raises the whole life and death of Jesus above that of a super hero of sorts to the unique Divine. We find in Acts, that Paul in his various sermons places a great emphasis on this event. Thinking through this all reminded me of its importance and I realized how seldom I have ever spoken about it to anyone else when I have tried to share the gospel. I suppose by speaking about it, I have been afraid of being relegated to a nutcase.
Close on the heels of the description of the resurrection come the final paragraph of Matthew’s gospel. I suppose this event, the resurrection climaxes this whole amazing story of our Saviour and should lead us almost involuntarily into joining our hearts to hear this “Great Commission”.
Let us just look at a few points in this paragraph. Firstly what does Jesus mean by saying, “All authority has been given Me in heaven and on earth”?
So, firstly He is passing that authority on to those disciples, but not only them but every one after them. Just stop and think. This message which Matthew has given us, which we have the authority to tell others of, has the full power of God behind it. “The gospel is the power of God for everyone who believes”. Romans 1:16. We don’t just have a good story to share, we have a story which carries the full power of God to transform the life or lives of those to whom we tell it. God not only helps us with the right words to say, but drives them home with all His power behind them.
What is the message then? It covers every aspect of the gospel story. Introducing people to the whole idea, bringing them to a point of decision (baptising them), helping people to understand the way the gospel is lived out in each person’s life. The list is endless. Each one of us has a role to play. A role which is unique to each one. The command is to “do it”. Be ready to share this wonderful news at every opportunity that God gives. To some it may mean prayer. To others providing a social platform. The ways are endless.
So as we stand on the brink of 2023, remember we each of us hold a Jewel beyond price in our hands and if we share that it becomes a Holy Fire. This year is not just a year to find a way of passing through it. It is a year of possibilities for every one of us. It should fill us with excitement and anticipation. It has to me. Remembering the sobering thought though that we are at war with satan and his friends and so he is going to do the maximum he can to discourage us. But the resurrection shows Jesus has won the victory, we just need to trust Him and live in it.
God bless each one of you for 2023.
(I have decided to read 1 Corinthians now).
- Jesus, On His Journey to Jerusalem
- The Ministry of Reconciliation.
- The True Gospel Affirmed.
- The Messianic Age. “Now but not yet”.
- Let Us Hold Firmly to the Faith we Profess.
- What Response can we Expect?
- Trust and Obey, that's the Servant's Way.
- Living with Wisdom.
- He is not here!
- Contending for the Faith.