Ancient Words: Do they have meaning in 2019?
Ancient words, now centuries old. What do they mean for us as we look to begin the year 2019?
Luke 2:8-11 (MSG)
There were sheepherders camping in the neighborhood. They had set night watches over their sheep. Suddenly, God's angel stood among them and God's glory blazed around them. They were terrified. The angel said, "Don't be afraid. I'm here to announce a great and joyful event that is meant for everybody, worldwide: A Savior has just been born in David's town, a Savior who is Messiah and Master.
A Savior, the Messiah, the Master has been born is the message of angelic visitors in the night, they said that this event was for everyone.
A Savior facilitates an emergency evacuation. A Messiah provides leadership. A Master is one in charge.
If you don’t require an escape, if you don’t require direction and leadership, if you must be in control, you don’t need a Savior, Messiah, and Master. Those ancient words have no meaning for you.
The New Testament looks back to the Old and sees in the words of the Prophet the birth of the Savior, Messiah, Master—
Isaiah 9:6-7 (MSG)
For a child has been born—for us! the gift of a son—for us! He'll take over the running of the world. His names will be Amazing Counselor, Strong God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Wholeness. His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings.
Wholeness means all is well. If there is no need, you feel everything as is as it should be; if you view your world, yourself, as good, if you like how you are running your world, you don’t need this God-given gift of Jesus to bring you his wholeness, His shalom, you think you already possess it. Those centuries old words have no meaning for you.
He’s an old man, like so many we see and pass by deeming them insignificant.
His name is Simeon. He encounters parents Joseph and Mary and their infant son who have just finished up the circumcision ritual and prays out loud:
Luke 2:32 (MSG)
With my own eyes, I've seen your salvation; it's now out in the open for everyone to see: A God-revealing light to the non-Jewish nations, and of glory for your people Israel.
Light available to everyone. Light exposes and illuminates. Light shows defects, exposes traps hidden in the dark, and the light reveals the repairs necessary. If you think are not in the dark you don’t need a light. Those ancient and centuries-old words hold no meaning for you Ancient words, centuries old, that as you look forward to 2019 hold no meaning for you if you are not in any danger; if you are not in a fight; if you are not imprisoned if you haven’t been sold out. If so, then, you’ll find no need for a Savior. If you are not struggling and lost, you’ll have no need for a Messiah. As you chart your own course when all is well, physically, financially, emotionally, when you’re in control you will not need a Master.
In the day, like most every kid in the Midwest, he went to church. If his parents were pillars in that faith community or just dropped him off for free babysitting, I don’t know. If he attended kicking and screaming, or his parents told him so, or because he sensed the presence of God, I don’t know.
Eventually, in that Midwestern church, he was baptized. I don’t know what partaking of that ritual meant to him, but the sacrament itself is a public declaration of your personal need of a Savior, a Messiah, a Master, the need for a Wholeness Bringer, a revealing Light, and the acknowledgment that Jesus is exactly who you need.
I fear though that as he grew up in that church he never learned to follow Jesus, oh he got religion, but religion is not Jesus. So as an adult, his life did not demonstrate the obedience one comes to expect of a disciple. In fact, he came to mock Christians. He didn’t need a savior, making his own way, making money in business, doing as he pleased.
Much later in life, he grew sick, he learned that he was dying, when hospice started, he remembered the ancient words, centuries old, at death’s door he decided he needed a savior. So just days before his death he asked the hospice Chaplin to baptize him again. I must confess that I felt the part of the prodigal son’s older brother who became angry at his father’s gracious welcoming home of his younger brother. I thought, “oh you coward, all these years you despised Christ and now at death's door, you cry out to be saved.”
It took a while but God eventually softened my hard heart. I thanked God that Jesus is judge and not me. I prayed that this lost soul made his way home. I hope he did because I if so I just might make it too.
You have no idea what you will experience or be confronted with any day in 2019. It might be status quo, things moving like they always have. For many though, there will be a death, a disease, a disaster, a dream destroyed, and you will find yourself helpless to overcome it, to get through it, to make it right. You could find yourself in a place for the very first time when you need a Savior, a Messiah, a Master, one who can bring light and wholeness back into your life. Will you remember those ancient words then, or will you get sucked down into the abyss?
There will come a time in your life when you will need to be rescued when you will need to be lead when you will need the One who is in charge. There will come a time in your life when you need the wholeness that sets all things right, that will keep you together when you are falling apart. There will come a time when you will need the illumination He brings.
Hear again the ancient words century’s old--"Don't be afraid… born … a Savior who is Messiah and Master” “His ruling authority will grow, and there'll be no limits to the wholeness he brings” “…A God-revealing light… open for everyone… your salvation” There will come a time when you will not only need to remember these ancient and centuries-old words, but you will need to act upon them.
In faith, you will need to grab hold of the truth and finally acknowledge that yes you need a Savior, a Messiah, a Master; that you desperately need the Wholeness and the Light God has offered you in the gift of His Son. In faith, you will need to believe that these words are spoken of Yeshua ben Josef, the Jew from Nazareth, the one we call Jesus. With a solemn vow, you will have to commit yourself to be his disciple in order for Him to turn your mess into His masterpiece. There will come a time when this will be the only way for you to be rescued, to be delivered, to be redeemed, to be made right. Before the troubles come, right now, in this good time, this time of plenty, this time that is as close to carefree as can be, right now act upon these ancient centuries-old words and ask God to help you receive all He desires to give to you.
Pray something like this: Father God I now see that I have chosen a path of ignorance in living my life. I believe I will need and need now a Savior, a Messiah, a Master; I need the wholeness that puts things right and I want to walk in the light. Jesus is your gift to me. I commit myself to put off my old ways and putting on His ways, which are your ways. Accept me, Father, I want to be a disciple of Jesus.
The words in that prayer are not magic. They just point you in a way of entering into an intimate relationship with God. If this is the desire of your heart, please tell me. I want to encourage you in your faith.
Ephesians 6:13 (MSG)
Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet.
Now for you who already believe, you have bent the knee to the Master and known the salvation of your soul and follow the leadership of the Messiah; you who are getting put all together and made righteous by your cooperation with His Holy Spirit; you who have tasted and seen the goodness of God. These next words are for you.
I challenge you to exercise that 7th habit of a disciple and contemplate your relationship with God.
2 Corinthians 13:5 (NIV)
Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves.
Inspect your life, the things you’ve done, the things you failed to do. Review the desires of your heart, are they heavenward or are they temporal, set on things above or below? Securitize your walk, your discipleship, see if you are working towards a reward, keeping your solemn vows. Evaluate your love life, are you loving others by forgiving them, bearing with them, meeting their needs for this is what true disciples of Jesus do.
I’ve got surprising news for you. If you think you have failed the test, you have not. Because you see the problems, you see the regrets, you see what needs to be repaired. As you examined your life the Holy Spirit has shown you where and what you lack. In that revealing comes the power to change, not judgment and condemnation.
Satan will take your test results and try to convince you that you are worthless,
a loser, one who is incapable, that you’ll never change. Or Satan will take your test results and try to convince you that you’re doing fine, do what you want, do what pleases you regardless of how it affects another, run your life as you feel. The disciple of Jesus disregards these lies, and then partnerships with the Holy Spirit to trust in Christ to make up for what is lacking, to show you where you can make changes, knowing that the Father is always faithful.
The test is a stepping stone to a more intimate relationship with God, not a stumbling block for you to trip and fall over.
As we stand looking forward to a New Year, allow those ancient centuries-old words become fresh and new in your life. “Fan into flame the gift of God” (2 Tim 1:6 (NIV). Enter this New Year dedicated to walk the walk, talk the talk, be the lover. Faithfulness is what is prized in the Kingdom.
Ancient, centuries-old word—a Savior, a Messiah, a Master, the bringer of Wholeness and light is the gift of love given to everyone. Let that truth indwell you. Be one with that Person. Jesus said “Remain in me, and I will remain in you”
Then follow God fearlessly into 2019.