You may not know Him…but He still knows you. In fact, He’s known every intimate detail about you before you were even born. You may not believe in Him…but He’s been faithfully sharing the beauty of the world He created with you every day. You may think you don’t need the “spiritual crutch” of religion, and that you can make it on your own…but the harsh reality is, you can’t…for no one can. That’s because we’re all sinners living in a very wicked and broken world…none of us with the ability to save ourselves. You may have never thought about Him…but He cares about you so much that He sent His Son, Jesus, to die in your place on that Cross.
The other Sunday I was able to hear a dear friend preach and part of his text came from this Scripture. He asked if we see Jesus when we look in the mirror…or do we just see our old self. That’s because, if Christ is dwelling inside us, we should be growing more and more in His image everyday…not remaining stagnant. He called it a new man season…a time to look at that reflection in the mirror and change what needs changing. But on the other hand, it’s also very easy to get comfortable and nonchalant with our Christian walk and lose sight of Jesus in that mirror altogether.
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.
Man has always willfully rebelled and rejected God. But God looked past that rejection and sent His Son into the world to save it. Jesus Christ took upon Himself the punishment for the sins of all mankind…He willingly was broken, wounded and killed that we might live. Romans 4:25 tells us, “He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification.” Today we have that blessed assurance of righteousness through Christ Jesus…and as we look at the empty cross and tomb, we can with confidence proclaim…He is not there, He is risen!
You were on the Lord’s mind long before you had ever heard of Him. He saw you saved and made whole when you were at the very lowest point in your life. He saw you doing great things for Him way before you had the confidence to step out in the abilities He had given you. For the Lord not only knew your name… He saw the person you would become through Him.
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.
In our minds, we’d love to have it…the perfect Christmas, complete with bells and mistletoe, gifts and family. But it usually doesn’t work out that way, and in the weeks leading up to Christmas stress takes over and we find ourselves focused on the wrong things. We’re worshipping the problems by worrying…we’re devoting ourselves to a crazy schedule out of desperation…and we’re putting up on a pedestal the to-do list only we think must get done. Quit fretting and stewing over the small stuff…Christmas will happen with or without every detail being done and it will be perfect in its imperfect way. For if you think about it…there has been only one “perfect” Christmas…and it happened in all places – a cow shed.
The simple answer to these questions is…we can’t. In our immoral human state, we are not innocent before God and in right standing with Him, and no matter what we try to “do” to become righteous we will fail, for all of our good works are like filthy rags in His eyes, (Isaiah 64:6) The only way we can stand pure before God is to accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior. Jesus came to seek and save the lost, (that’s us) and to bear on His body our guilt and shame that we may stand before our Heavenly Father sinless and perfect…washed in the blood of Jesus.
Jesus is the Great Overcomer… He who has defeated death, triumphed over the grave, and conquered sin, tells us in this scripture that adversity will only strengthen our spiritual backbone if we won’t give up. Jesus, the Great Overcomer, has forged the way for us to become overcomers too…to be victors not victims…winners not wounded.
The story comes out of Matthew 21:42 where Jesus is quoting this Scripture to the chief priests and elders of the Temple…whom were not too happy about Him accusing them of rejecting the Messiah…namely Himself, Jesus. Continuing in the next verse, Jesus countered with, “Therefore, I tell you that the Kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit.” Jesus was offering the gift of salvation to Gentiles…building His Church from those willing to accept Him as Savior. And as Believers in Christ, we are the Church. To paraphrase Ephesians 2:20, We the Church, are God’s people, built on the foundation of all martyred apostles and prophets, with Jesus being the chief cornerstone.