This is a New Year, and right at the outset of 2015 I want to remind you of three things that can never repeated too often. So here we go.
My first reminder is this: Jesus paid the highest price for your life.
1 Peter 1:18-19(NIV) 18 For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.
There was a popular Christian song sometime back that talked about the price that Jesus paid for our salvation. I liked it a lot because it made clear the point that nothing we can do in and of ourselves will ever earn us eternal life.
One line talking about the ineptitude of our human effort really stands out to me saying, “It wouldn’t be enough to buy one splinter of the tree that Jesus died on”.
Forget purchasing our own salvation some how some way. By our own goodness and effort, not only could we not afford the cross, hey, we couldn’t even buy a splinter of it.
Now that puts it in perspective. The reality is we will never really get it until we see Jesus. We cannot grasp the value of even a single drop of blood that He shed for us.
And that’s because we can’t completely understand Jesus having no blemish or defect. We understand the value of a pure diamond, or pure gold, but we don’t understand the value of pure divinity. How do you put a value on that?
And because we don’t understand divine perfection, we can’t understand the tortuous degree of pain that He endured taking on my sin, your sin, and the sin of everyone who ever has or ever will live on this planet.
We can’t understand completely what it means to be all God, yet all man at the same time. We are not able to reason from the known to the unknown.
No one else ever has or ever will be like that, so no one but God understands. The theological term to describe the equally God/equally man, person of Christ, is theanthropic.
Theanthropic explains why Jesus could say in John 4:14 if you drink of me you’ll never thirst again and yet in John 19:28 say I am thirsty.
But while we may not be able to reason out what it means to be all God and all man at the same time, we can rightly know that the price Jesus paid for our lives was a steep one.
Our sin marred God’s perfection—only for a brief period of time, but Jesus was an ugly pulp of our sinful mess while He died on the cross. We must never down play or sanitize that fact, the crucifixion was grotesquely hideous.
I was in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City with Anthony looking at one of the most famous and priceless paintings in the world—a self-portrait of Rembrandt.
I’m certain it’s valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars. But here’s the crazy part…we were only separated from the painting by a velvet rope.
Nothing else was shielding or protecting it. It was completely vulnerable. If anyone had chosen to splash it with acid, or jump the rope and slice the canvas they could have easily done it.
And that’s kind of how the matchless Son of God presented himself to humanity, and we did take the opportunity mess Him up pretty good.
But our sin didn’t leave him messed up. He conquered sin and death when He rose again 3 days later and we need to be reminded as we begin 2015 that a big price has been paid for each of us.
The second thing that I want to remind you of as we enter a fresh new year is, We must not grow weary in well doing.
Galatians 6:9 (NIV) “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up”.
Now, in a quick reading of that verse it can all sound so easy, but we get tired, don’t we? Life presents us with daily challenges and twists and turns in the plan as we thought we understood it.
But there are few things more discouraging than when you are trying your hardest to do the right thing and your efforts seem to go either unnoticed, or worse still, unappreciated even when noticed.
The Holy Spirit knew in advance how we would feel from time to time, and that’s why this reminder is included in the pages of scripture.
Each year over the Christmas week, I choose a book to read, purely for relaxation and entertainment. A couple of years ago I read, “The Rescue of Belle and Sundance”.
The true story is about the abandonment and subsequent rescue of two packhorses near the top of Mount Renshaw in British Columbia. It’s a tale that had me alternately jeering and cheering.
I found myself jeering the cruelty of a person who could abandon two magnificent dependent living creatures to fend for themselves in the harsh Canadian winter. When they were discovered in the little 12-foot square enclosure that they had trampled out while 6-foot high snow banks piled up around them, they were so desperate for protein that they had gnawed each other’s tails down to the stump.
And I found myself cheering the rescue effort of a small group of volunteers who for several days, in temperatures reaching minus 40 degrees, dug with shovels a kilometer long trench through the 6 feet of snow to free the emaciated and frostbitten animals.
It is a story of painstaking, stick-to-it-ness, in spite of the frequent temptation to forgo the good deed. I found the story stirring and inspirational, and in the mercy and compassion of those rescuers I see the image of God.
But in reading the horse tale, I was reminded of a task far more eternally consequential. It reminded me that Jesus has called us to put our hand to the greatest redemptive drama in human history.
When you and I lend our effort, who knows what desperate people will walk out through the passageways that we create by working alongside God.
That’s why I remind you today that we must not grow weary and we must not give up. If we remember daily the price that Jesus paid, we will gladly create those passageways that create hope and walk the lost back to Christ. They are the reward of His suffering.
Which ties directly to the third and final reminder I want to leave with you today: Jesus is coming back for those who love Him.
Rev.22:12 (NIV) "Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.”
Every Christmas and New Years season, media outlets compile retrospective stories that review the past year, and I find them interesting.
Do you know what CTV News chose as the top three stories of the year? These are them in ascending order:
3. Ebola At the time the Ebola story came to the attention of Canadians there were just 160 cases of Ebola. Now, there are over 18,200 cases, with nearly 7,000 deaths.
2. ISIS and Terror Born in the chaos of the Syrian civil war and Iraq's unending sectarian violence, the world was astonished at how fast the Islamic State spread its barbaric rule in 2014.
1. Ottawa Shootings. We will never forget images of bystanders working frantically to save Cpl. Nathan Cirillo as he lay dying in front of the National War Memorial. And
the question of how a gunman could walk right into Canada's Parliament is one we are still struggling with. The symbolic damage is hard to fathom, and the repercussions are likely to be long-lasting.
If you think about it, the media has done us a year -end favour, by reminding us that we are clearly not in control.
I read a comment a while back from someone mocking the Christian belief in the rapture of the Church. He said that the last bit of thinking this world needs is that Jesus is going to come back and rescue us like daddy rescuing his family from a burning house. But hey, from my perspective, as more rooms catch fire, I’d be happy to be rescued.
The fact is that destruction is brewing all around us in many forms, and outside of Christ, and left to our own devices, and with Satan’s willing assistance, mankind will ultimately destroy itself. Even so come quickly Lord Jesus.
As you go about making your plans, and then begin your journey through 2015, be focused and aware. Keep your spiritual guard up and flee temptation. Fall at the feet of Jesus and you’ll fall for nothing else.
Know again today, that as you seek first the Kingdom of God, everything you need will be added to you. Everything.
Live this year more for your eternal future than for your financial future, remembering that only what’s done for Christ will be rewarded.
If you will approach this year with those three thoughts as your primary guideposts:
-that Jesus loves you and paid a huge price for you
-that you must not grow weary in doing the right thing
-that the one who loved you more than His own life will one day receive you to Himself
Then I can promise you, based on the promises of an unfailing God, you will enjoy a fulfilling and satisfying year!
--Pastor Craig Eagle