In reading about the final days of Jesus on earth, one cannot help but realize all the forces of the world were delivering Him up to the Cross. God’s determinate counsel, Satan’s malicious hate, Mary’s tender anointing, Judas’ treachery, and the priests’ plotting are all stories of conflicting co-operation. All of these forces were moving Jesus to the sacrifice of the ages. Perhaps the most important lesson we can learn from these conflicting co-operations is this: God is in control!
It is important to know that God is in control because, like the patriarch Job, we do not always know the reason for a particular event in our lives, and the direction it is moving us in. However, when the Christian rests in the fact that God is ultimately in control of all events around us then peace abounds, for we know human power structures, no matter how powerful they look, are not powerful enough to stop God’s intention to fulfill His ultimate desire in the Christian’s life.
There comes a time in all of our lives when events concerning our health, family, job, friends, and the world wash over us in an overwhelming flood of unsolvable problems. We have all walked through troubles, or are walking through them right now making us feel everything is out of control. The lesson from the passion narrative scenes is this: God is in control. Therefore, God is able to walk us unharmed through any trouble if we will only turn to Him.
Jesus said, “Come to me all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Behind every person is a motive that drives them. It’s what makes us rise in the morning and work through the day. Even the lazy person has a motive; it’s to do nothing. We all have passions that masters us, and that is what Jesus is dealing with in his words. He is saying if you have the right passion in life, you will find rest. The Old Testament gives us Jesus’ passion, “It is written about me in the scroll. I desire to do your will, O my God” (Ps 40:7-8). Examine Jesus’ life from beginning to end and you will see it is so.
We each have a choice of what to carry into the New Year; our will or God’s will. You may decide to carry your own will into 2018. If that is your decision the year will just be a repeat of the past. Instead of choosing your own will, why not accept Jesus’ invitation and take up His yoke. What is Jesus yoke? It is to do the will of God. If you accept His invitation you will find rest, and wouldn’t that make for a great year?
We have just concluded Jesus’ final sermon that is found in Matthew’s Gospel: The Olivet Discourse. In the sermon Jesus gave us a central truth about the end of the age that we live in, “No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, not the Son, but only the Father,” (25:36). We learn that because the time of Jesus’ return is unknown his followers are to watch, be ready, be prepared, and live with the conviction that He can return unexpectedly at any moment.
In the sermon Jesus gave us a somber picture of the age we live in, and it’s one of apostasy. As we wait, watch, and prepare for His return Jesus said, “He who stands firm to the end will be saved,” (13). One concludes that active resistance is needed by the believer in order to resist all that the age will throw at us, we must stand firm till the end.
Jesus knows that we cannot stand firm alone, so He gave us the church. The author of Hebrews wrote to believers to encourage their relationship with the church. He wrote, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds. Not forsaking our own assembling together as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the day drawing near, (Heb. 10: 23-25).
The Church is here to help you stand,
During the Christmas season we reread the old stories of Jesus birth, Mary’s song, Joseph’s yielding, the journey to Bethlehem, His simple birth, amazed shepherds, wise kings following a mysterious star, and the cunning evil of an old king. They are the cherished stories of Christmas.
There never has been another story such as that of Jesus birth. Never was a story so tender, so beautiful, so strong, or so pathetic, but if it is just a story it would have lost its power long ago. Men and women do not remake their lives, morals are not upheld, nations are not born, societies remade, and thoughts changed because of a story.
The world has not been transformed by the telling of the story of Jesus birth, any more than it is transformed by the telling of his death, and ascensions. What has transformed the world is the living presence of Christ in every successive century. What Jesus began to do two thousand years ago He has never ceased doing, and thus the world has been, and is being transformed.
This church is not gathered around the memory of a majestically beautiful story. We are here because the same living Christ is here, doing among us what he first did: Forgiving us, making us holy, and presentable before God.
Christ’s work goes on,