All of mankind can agree….”I have strayed like a lost sheep.” (Psalm 119:176) But the wonderful thing about these verses in Ezekiel is how proactive the Lord is. It’s Him that is searching us out, looking after us, and rescuing us from the thick darkness of sin. Jesus is called the Good Shepherd who gathers and watches over His flock and tells us in Luke 19:10, “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.” And like the parable of the lost sheep, Jesus will leave the 99 on the hillside to go looking for the one that has wandered off. (Matthew 18:10-14) Have you strayed away from the Lord? Know that Jesus is actively looking for you today.
When Jesus came to earth He made the greatest sacrifice of self-abnegation and self-denial possible. He humbled Himself and renounced His Divinity. In other words, Jesus went out of Himself in order to enter into fellowship with us. So why are we so against doing the work to enter into relationship with Him? We’d like Jesus to just save, change, and sanctify us without lifting a finger in the process. Or we’d rather bargain with Him first – (“You do this for me first God, and maybe then I’ll start working on myself.”) The bottom line is that we also must go out of ourselves in order to enter into a right relationship with God…and waiting around until He does all the work in our lives (that we need to be doing) will never happen.
It’s almost like the Writer of Hebrews is looking around at the wickedness in the world at that time and lamenting…”Yet at present we do not see everything subject to Him.” And sadly, we could say the same thing today as we survey the evilness and rebellion in our world. Jesus Christ has supreme power and rule and there will come a day when He takes His rightful seat of authority over this broken world. For submission to authority is either compulsory or voluntary…demanded or deliberate. And on that day, every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. There will be no insubordination or willfulness…no pride or arrogance…for the world will see Jesus in all His glory, and there will be silence.
These blue cord tassels were to be a daily reminder of the Lord’s commandments and the fact that the Jews were a holy and separated people. But if we go to Matthew 23:5, Jesus is calling out the Jewish Leaders who had taken this Scripture to an excess by making their tassels extremely long in order to make a show of their “religiousness”. It’s called Legalism…and the Church over history has been really good at it. We’d rather focus on the strict and excessive conformity to the letter of the Law, than embrace grace and mercy. Or we’d rather obsess over external appearances than do the hard work of changing our hearts, minds, and attitudes. Legalism is taking God’s word to an extreme and then affixing human rules and regulations to it. Legalism lets us focus on things we can control and be proud of…the “Look at me, I’m so very religious!” But like white-washed graves, we look so nice on the outside, but hold so much decay within.
Jairus was the President of the Jewish Synagogue in Capernaum, but at this moment in time all his power and authority meant nothing to him… for he had a little daughter dying. He was desperate enough to actually plead with Jesus to come to his house and heal her. But it would get worse. While they were headed there, someone from Jairus’s household ran up to tell him his daughter had just died…but it would get worse. When they got to the house the scene was utter chaos with people weeping, wailing and milling around. That’s when Jesus took control of the situation…moving all the people out except for the parents, Peter, James, and John. He then took a hold of the child’s hand and said, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!” And she did. So what practical application can we take from this story? When you’re going through tough times, position strong people of faith around you…people that can believe for breakthrough and won’t give up or become discouraged. It’s friends that will gather around you and pray when you may not have the strength or ability to. Finally, realize it may get worse before it gets better. But through it all Jesus is saying to you, “Don’t be frightened, just trust in Me.”
Jesus had called Lazarus from the grave, and out he stumbled. But he was still bound by the grave-clothes wound around his body and face. Others had placed these winding cloths on him, and now it took others to free him from them. When we become a Believer we are raised from the dead unto eternal life, but for many of us, we continue to wear the trappings of the tomb. These hindrances cling to us like grave-clothes, impeding our movement forward and blinding us from the truth. And just like Lazarus, it was someone else that placed them on us, binding us up in sin, addiction, and pain. So it takes others to free us from these grave clothes…to come along side to encourage, exhort, and unloose the sins that still bind us to the past.
The disciples thought Jesus was confused and making a mistake for wanting to go back to a place where He had almost been killed. But where they were coming from was a very incorrect and sorely limited understanding, perception, and interpretation of just who Jesus was and what He could do. Psalm 18:30 tells us that, “As for God, His way is perfect.” Nothing that God has done or will ever do is a miscalculation or blunder. His Will in your life is faultless, flawless, and correct in every detail…and His timing is always perfect.
For Mary, this was her first baby…and for the world, it was likewise a new beginning. For Mary, it was her first labor and delivery in rather dismal conditions.. for us, it was the gift of a new start. It tells us in Colossians 1:15 that, “He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born over all creation.” When that tiny baby was born, the manifestation of God the Father came to earth to dwell among us. And when Mary laid baby Jesus in that manger, surrounded by livestock and hay, the preeminence over all creation arrived to light the way for sinners.
For Simon Peter, he had come full circle from that first encounter with Jesus on the shores of the Sea of Galilee. He and his brother, Andrew, were fishing when this stranger approached them and declared, “Come, follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19) Now three years later, following Jesus’ death and resurrection and Peter’s denial of Him…Peter has been restored and re-commissioned. “Follow Me,” is fellowship of faith and life with our Savior…it’s both inner fellowship of trust and confidence, and outer fellowship of becoming more like Him daily. “Follow Me,” ultimately means counting the cost and determining it’s all worth it.