Luke 3:3 (KJV) 3And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins
One act—repentance—causes such immeasurably great results: forgiveness of our sins, assurance of eternal destiny in the presence of our dear precious Lord. It’s a message everyone needs to hear.
We don’t cower or withdraw from preaching the message of repentance. Although it’s not a popular subject, we don’t turn our backs on it. It is an essential message for an indispensable experience: salvation.
Others don’t like to be told to repent; it suggests sin and sinfulness. Although it’s a common knowledge that all sin, that nobody’s perfect, others would rather not be told about it. But we’re not moved by people’s words or reactions. We’re moved by God’s Word and His Spirit. We do what God says we do.
Luke 2:16 (KJV) 16And they came with haste, and found Mary, and Joseph, and the babe lying in a manger.
Jesus was described in no spectacular way; in fact, unlike Joseph and Mary, He was not even called by His Name. He was just referred to as babe. This doesn’t mean however that that’s all there is to Him. Jesus was way more than just an ordinary baby.
What we know about Jesus, and what others know about Jesus fail in comparison to who our precious Lord really is. Just because he was born humbly in a manger, just because he lived as a human being, just because he died, it doesn’t mean He is just an ordinary man. He is the king who came down from heaven. He lived as a man but he lived a victorious sinless life through 33 years of Him being here on Earth. He died a sacrificial death and paid for the sins of the whole world of all generations. And he is right now seated at the right hand of God the Father. He will come back as the King of all kings and the Lord of all lords to judge both the living and the dead. He will rule and reign over every tribe, every language, every nation—forever.
That’s our Jesus—and a lot more.
The description doesn’t define the person or create the substance. Others may perceive Him very lowly or unfavorably, but He is still the great He is. Same with us: others may look down on us and say all manners of evil against us, but we are who we are. We are not affected by people’s demeaning words if we don’t let them.
Luke 23:35 (KJV) 35 And the people stood beholding. And the rulers also with them derided him, saying, He saved others; let him save himself, if he be Christ, the chosen of God.
Both the people and the leaders expected Jesus to save Himself as an unambiguous proof of Him being the Christ. They were amiss. God’s chosen Messiah came not to save Himself, but to seek and to save the seemingly helpless and hopeless lost. He did it not by saving Himself from death on the cross, but by the exact opposite—not saving Himself, by giving His life—shedding His most precious blood—as a ransom payment for our sins.
God said, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:9). He often does things in ways that transcends our expectations and baffles our imaginations. But they always astonishingly yield the best results. It’s because of this that the saying “Let go and let God” isn’t just a good cliché to us; it’s our lifestyle.
Our only wise God and Savior, we humble ourselves before you. Please open our eyes, our hearts, and our understanding to the wonders of Your ways. Help us to never doubt You, but to always trust Who You are and how You do things. We won’t come to a point when we’ll understand all Your purposes in every turn of events, but we can always trust You in all of them. You have repeatedly shown us Your inexhaustible creativity. You have assured us of Your unquestionable and unending love. We depend on You and act on those things You’ve plainly revealed to us; we depend on You as well even in times when we don’t have a clue as to what’s going on.
Matthew 21:44 (KJV) 44 And whosoever shall fall on this stone shall be broken: but on whomsoever it shall fall, it will grind him to powder.
Never fight against the Lord Jesus Christ. It’s a “no-win” position to take. After all, He’s not a weakling that many people think He is. True, people can speak very insulting and really bad words against Him, and they don’t get struck with a divinely-originated death blow. There are those who challenge Him without a seeming answer from heaven. They conclude that either He’s not real, or He’s just not as powerful as people make Him out to be, or He’s a coward. Some see Him as the helpless sheep brought to the slaughter.
The truth though: yes, He came as God’s spotless Lamb, but there’s another side of him people don’t see, understand, or accept. He is the Lamb of God; He is also the Lion of the tribe of Judah. Everything was created through Him. And creation is way much bigger, greater, and mightier than us. Whatever plan of attack, whatever strategy, whatever approach, whatever weapon, the end will be the same: Jesus will always be standing—on top.
He is the Lord of hosts. He is the victorious warrior. It’s best that we be on His side—the winning side. Understanding the end of everyone who dares challenge Him into a fight, we prefer what we have now: a love-relationship with our Lord, Savior, Father, and Friend.
John 3:16 (KJV) 16For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
The incarnation of our Lord and Savior Jesus—Christmas, is an extremely clear statement and demonstration of love and salvation. God loves us. He desires all of us to be saved. That’s the reason why He generously gave us the best and most valuable Christmas gift ever: God’s Son wrapped in humanity cloak. The little Baby laid in a manger is God’s gentle yet profoudly emphatic declaration that imperfect and fallen humanity has hope.
One of the worst feelings is that of being unloved. So many people all around the world suffer this tragedy. It’s not that they don’t love; it’s that their deep and true love isn’t reciprocated. True love is willing to give without anything in return, but it does really feel wonderfully great when it’s returned, or when you receive it even from another source/s. I’ve learned it from somewhere before: love is man’s greatest need. In the context that God is love, I agree.
Love came—in the person of God’s Son. The majestically and perfectly pure Darling of Heaven willingly came in complete submission to the Father. Here on earth, He lived to die; He left the heights of heaven to descend to the depths of hell. The beautifully wrapped Perfection was to be horribly and cruelly desecrated and destroyed. It didn’t deter Him; He willingly offered His body as a living sacrifice: truly holy and acceptable to His Father and totally beneficial to us.
In humble and truthful admission of our desperate need of Him, we bow and walk in complete yieldedness to His Lordship and total dependence in Him as our Savior. Gratefully, we offer ourselves in love and obedience—in peaceful and joyful awareness of the truth that all He wants for us is the best, comforted in knowing that He’s absolutely able to take us there.
Luke 13:1-3 (KJV) There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices. 2 And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things? 3 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.
Certain Galileans suffered murder from the hands of Pilate while they were in the middle of their religious activity. The Galileans suffered; His audience obviously didn’t. Jesus found it imperative that He quickly clarified what may otherwise could have come to an erroneous conclusion, belief and doctrine. The suffering of the Galileans and the “non-suffering in the same way” of the audience was not a divine indicator of who was more sinful. It was not necessarily an insightful commentary of their varying spiritual conditions. But it’s worth noting: Jesus’ reference was not between sinners and a non-sinners; It was between sinners and greater sinners. Implication: the Galileans who suffered and those who didn’t were all sinners who will all perish unless repentance happens. With that He showed an indispensable essential act everyone has to undergo for any possibility of escape from perishing: repentance.
Suffering and tragedy hits everyone. Being accused wrongly, being betrayed, getting into accident, getting sick, losing a parent, losing a child, losing a friend, losing money, losing everything – these are experiences shared in all strata of society. Not everyone experiences every suffering and every tragedy, but anyone can and will experience sufferings and tragedies. Great sinners and not-so-great sinners all share in human experiences – good and bad. Apostle Paul and Fuhrer Hitler both suffered – both died. Both of them sinned. Paul described himself as the chief of all sinners; Hitler is a generally accepted figure of great sinfulness. Both of them could have perished and suffered eternal destruction. We know for sure that the self-confessed chief of all sinners repented, thus was saved and became one of the greatest Apostles of the Lord Jesus Christ. We don’t know of the Fuhrer. Perish or not, it’s not because he was a sinner above all humans or not, it was dependent totally on whether he repented or not. Let me quickly add: if He believed (fully trusted and depended in) Jesus as his Savior Who was able to forgive him of all his sins if he repented from them. Whoever we are, no matter how highly or how lowly we’re esteemed in our sphere – natural or spiritual, we’ve all sinned. Unless we abnormally want to perish, repentance is a must. Le’t humbly ask for forgiveness – turn away from our sins, and simultaneously turn to God.
Forgiving Father, thank you for the hope you’ve given us despite our sinfulness. We turn away from our sins. Thank You for being our Savior Who can and will forgive.
Luke 9:20 (KJV) 20 He said unto them, But whom say ye that I am? Peter answering said, The Christ of God.
After Jesus pointedly asked His disciples who the crowds generally perceive Him as, He quickly directed that very same question towards them. It wasn’t enough that others had a favorable impression of Who He was; It wasn’t enough that the disciples correctly knew what others believed; what’s important was their own conviction. And not just any conviction, it needed to be the right conviction. Praise God, they got it correctly. That was predictable. They’ve walked with Him; They’ve seen His unquestionable integrity. They’ve listened to Him; they’ve heard the purity and authority in His teachings. They’ve seen His miracles; they knew the beyond-humanly uniqueness of His works.
There are many people in the world who see Jesus as a good person Who has done a lot of good for mankind. He has left us great teachings; He has shown us great examples; He has become a great Inspiration that led to myriads of humanitarian efforts and beautiful expressions in the arts. Those are all wonderful. But He challenges us to adjust our focus – from the crowd to our own personal conviction. Is He to us Who He is? From being a Person we know about, has He become a Person we know. Do we really share in the conviction that He is the Son of God Who came to save us? Have we gone from understanding Him as the Lord and the Savior to being our personal Lord and our personal Savior? This indispensable relationship with Him is forged in an individual level. Aside from our Lord’s finished substitutionary work on the cross, there’s no such thing as sponsored salvation – before and after death. Let’s make sure that we have gotten a sure grip of that which He has gotten hold of us for.
Dear God our Savior, may our eyes be opened to see You and Your Son for Who You really are. Help us not to be satisfied with just knowing how others are doing in their perception of, connection with, and walk with you. Help us to orderly put first things first. May we perceive, believe, and receive You in our very own lives as Who You really are – Lord and Savior. Upon doing so, may we be faithful instruments of bringing this same saving knowledge and experience to the crowd. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.