“A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another”(Jn. 13:34).
In poetry, music, theater, movies, novels, and history itself, any observant person can see that humans are obsessed with love. Love intrigues us, it compels us, and it befuddles us. Just as people are fascinated by love, so too people are often unable to define or explain love in any genuinely coherent way. We talk about love as though it were an irresistible feeling, a fleeting charm, and an unbreakable bond. And yet, each of these descriptions contradicts the others.
Like many meaningful concepts in life, God’s word speaks clearly as to the nature and expression of love. But we are often so preoccupied with fantasy that we are unable to consider the beauty and glory of reality. Jesus Himself is offered as the exemplary loving person, and He calls His disciples to love as He did and does.
Far from the romantic imagery of teenaged longings, true and genuine love is robust, textured, and panoramic. Furthermore, there is one place on the planet where God has designed Christ-like love to take its truly expansive shape. In the context of the local church, Christians display the kind of sacrificial, persevering, gracious, radical, and inspiring love that Christ both exemplifies and empowers.
The psalmist says, “Remember Your word to Your servant, in which You have made me hope. This is my comfort in my affliction, that Your promise gives me life” (Psalm 119:49-50).
In this world, we will face good days and bad ones. Anyone who has lived long enough can easily attest to the fact that some days are quite bad. We endure affliction from multiple sources and with varying effects.
Some suffer from the pains of bodily illness, others from mental anguish, still others from emotional distress. Some grieve the personal loss of a loved one, and others ache under the weight of needy loved ones who yet remain. Financial strain, relational dysfunction, precarious job situations, wayward children, and a slew of other crises may afflict us throughout our lifetime.
With all of this, what is the Christian’s hope? Do we hope in the words of politicians or doctors, philosophers or well-meaning friends, employers or academics? The psalmist reminds us that there is a word from God, which has the ability to create hope and give comfort… even in the midst of affliction.
What, then, is that life-giving word from God? Ah, the most glorious word from God is the promise He made to renew all things through the Savior – the suffering conqueror. Oh, such a word is blessed hope to all those who hear and believe! Though things are not now as they should be, God in Christ is making all things new! He will not leave things as they are, but He will renovate heaven and earth.
God said to the serpent of old, “I will put enmity between you and the woman [Eve], and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Genesis 3:15).
It is overwhelming to measure what was lost when sin entered creation through Adam and Eve. The bleakness of death, the brokenness of relationships, and the barrenness of creation itself are all results or effects of this horrific fall. In God’s poetic response to humanity’s first sin, we hear terrifying truths.
And yet… there is also a beam of hope-filled light amid that darkness! God’s first words about the future of mankind were not condemning but restorative. Before God declared the disastrous curse, He shouted the hope-giving promise of blessing!
In this ancient account of the first sin, we find the first gracious proclamation of the good news from God. He is merciful, and He promised a rescuer, a savior, a restorer. All that was lost in the fall is gained through Jesus Christ.
Jesus restores life to the dead, He restores the joy of living to the glory of God, He restores harmony in broken relationships, and He restores the heritage of an everlasting family.
In short, Jesus is Himself the dawn of hope for all who love and trust Him.
“Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us” (Romans 8:34).
Christ alone is the savior of sinners. This exclusive claim is repugnant to our culture of trivial tolerance, and it has always been obnoxious to sinful humans everywhere. And yet, this intolerant declaration is actually quite expansive. Just consider how wide the invitation really is.
While the Gospel of Christ does indeed prohibit the notion of any other savior besides Jesus, this exclusive Gospel also opens the way for any guilty sinner to approach God with confidence and joy. Regardless of pedigree, intellect, geography, wealth, or a host of other demographic descriptors, anyone may find gracious compassion and newness of life in the one-and-only Savior.
God has provided an incomparable gift in the person and work of Jesus Christ. The priceless Redeemer has satisfied God’s wrath for sinners like us; the perfect Justifier has earned righteousness on our behalf; the tireless Intercessor pleads our case even now; and the conquering King of glory welcomes us into His good kingdom forevermore.
Oh, yes… Christ alone is the sufficient savior of sinners!
Jesus said, “I told you that you would die in your sins, for unless you believe that I am he you will die in your sins” (John 8:24).
Everyone loves an encouraging word, but not every situation calls for one. A person suffering from a fatal illness will not benefit from a reassuring lie. Our children are not corrected if all we give them is kindhearted counsel. A defiant army is not subdued by the mere wooing of a negotiator.
Jesus Christ offers words of great encouragement, but these are not the only words He offers. Jesus spoke (and still speaks) words of dreadful threatening, and we are wise to take these words to heart. The true and sober warnings from a faithful friend should be the most welcomed words of all.
What greater despair and anguish could there be than for one to die in sin? The thought is horrible, and yet many carelessly dismiss it today. Christ is the gracious Savior of all who believe (trust, love, serve) Him, but He is the indignant judge of all who remain in their sin of disbelief.
May God gracious grant that we take this warning to heart, and may He grant us grace to believe and thereby be free from our sin and guilt.
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12).
Stubbing your toe on the bed-frame is just one of the many perils of walking in the dark. Moving blindly through your familiar home is one thing, but the unfriendly and bewildering darkness in the world conceals devastating troubles. Simply put, darkness is cold, confusing, and dangerous.
Amid such darkness, the dawn of light breaks through in the person and work of Jesus Christ! Warmth renews, and gloom dissipates; for the comforting and illuminating presence of Christ has come.
The theme of light is rich and pervasive throughout the Bible, and Christ embodies all that God tells us about light. Christ is the presence of God with us (Jn. 1:14, 18); He is the glory of God revealed (Jn. 1:14); He is the wisdom of God made known (Jn. 1:9); He is the life-giving power of God to save (Jn. 1:4, 12-13); He is the fullness of God’s gracious grace (John 1:16)!
Oh, praise be to God! For the dawn of light has come, and He is Christ our King and Savior!
Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink” (John 7:37).
Everyone thirsts… This is true, but not everyone realizes it, nor do many people know what their thirst really is. People chase many things in search of something that will somehow ease their desperate need for a satisfying drink. When temporal pools fail, the thirsty seek deeper wells or distracting tonics. In the end, there is only one who truly satisfies, and Jesus makes His graciously fulfilling offer to those who can hear it.
Jesus’ offer is incredible, and it is magnificently different from every other invitation. “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink.” Three things are noticeable here. First, the thirst must be recognized, and it must be acknowledged for what it is – a longing for something much more substantial and lasting. Second, the one who thirsts must come to another, utterly throwing off any hope or trust in the self. Third, Jesus clearly says that He is able to satisfy.
If you are thirsty, drink your fill of Christ! Drink of His goodness and grace! Drink of His majesty and glory! Drink of His humility and mercy!
Drink all you can hold, and continually drink; quench your thirst indefinitely in the person and work of Christ.
Jesus said, “I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true… I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me” (John 7:28-29).
The grand narrative (or big story) of the Bible is bigger than most people realize. Additionally, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is fundamentally a Trinitarian Gospel. That is, God the Father sent God the Son to be the one through whom the work of redemption is accomplished, and God the Holy Spirit applies this work to the hearts and lives of those who enjoy the benefits of spiritual life in the triune God.
All of this was and is played out in real time and over the course of human history, but this story began even before time itself. While the Gospel (and the triune God from whom this good news comes) is timeless, we are not. We live only a short while, and then we enter an endless existence – where we will finally see with eyes wide open what we only see now through dim light in this upside-down world.
The Christ from the Father makes His appeal to all who will hear and obey it: “Come to me, for I am life and truth.” Without delay, repentance and faith (turning from sin and trusting in Christ) are the right response, because one day the offer will no longer be available to sinful rebels like us.
May God grant us faith and repentance this very moment, and may we give proper attention to the gracious gift God offers us in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.