Through Jesus’ grace comes forgiveness, redemption, and salvation. (Ephesians 1:7)
Just when I thought I was caught up, I realized I missed an entire week’s worth of posts. Here ya go …
Matthew 11 gives us a beautiful picture of the relationship between Jesus and John the Baptist. (Unfortunately, John the Baptist is tragically killed three chapters later by the order of a drunken king and his vindictive wife, but that’s a story for another day.) We know from the account in Luke 1 that Mary (Jesus’ mom) and Elizabeth (John the Baptist’s mom) were related, but the Bible isn’t very clear about their exact relationship. I’ve always heard that Jesus and John were cousins, but perhaps that’s my southern upbringing where “cousin” can be a catch-all term for extended relatives. At any rate, they were related, to some extent or another.
I find it interesting that even though John probably grew up being around Jesus at family gatherings, annual Passover festivities, etc., and he had the distinct honor of baptizing Jesus at the beginning of his public ministry (Matthew 3), John the Baptist still had to come to terms with his own understanding of Jesus as Messiah.
In Matthew 11, we read that John the Baptist is in prison, but he has been receiving word about Jesus’ activities. In verses 2-3, John sends messengers to ask Jesus flat-out: Are you the One? Let that sink in a moment. John the Baptist needed clarification about whether or not Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah.
There are no shortcuts to salvation, even for insiders. Jesus’ own family had to decide for themselves whether to accept him as Lord and Savior, and so do we. It doesn’t matter if your daddy and your granddaddy and your great-granddaddy were pastors; you still have to decide for yourself. It doesn’t matter if your mom’s best friend’s sister-in-law knows Billy Graham personally; you still have to decide for yourself. It doesn’t matter if you attended a private, religious school and memorized prayers and creeds; you still have to decide for yourself. It doesn’t matter if you were baptized as a baby or dedicated in a church as a child; you still have to decide for yourself. There are no shortcuts.
Faith is not inherited. Of course, we should pass down our testimonies, teach our children, involve them in church, and encourage them to develop their own relationships with the Lord, but that last step is not something that we can do FOR them. They have to decide for themselves, just as John the Baptist had to reconcile his own beliefs about Jesus. So, who is Jesus to you? Is he the Messiah, the long-awaited One?
(Sunday) I like shortcuts and avoiding traffic as much as any other driver, but when it comes to our faith-journeys, there is only one way via Jesus.
(Monday) Read Matthew 11:11 and let it sink deep into your heart. John the Baptist was a rock star of the faith, yet we can be also!
(Tuesday) You know the cliché about riding an influential person’s coattails to get ahead in life, but faith doesn’t work that way. You alone decide.
(Wednesday) Matt. 11:10 says that John the Baptist was the prophet mentioned in the Old Testament (Malachi), yet even he had to opt in & believe Jesus.
(Thursday) How do we convince ourselves that somehow we could ever be good enough (or at least not too bad) to win God’s approval? It’s all his grace!
(Friday) Whether you’re the first Christian in your family or you come from a long line of faith, the decision to follow Christ was yours to make.
(Saturday) It’s usually a passage reserved for Christmastime, but read Luke 1 and marvel at God’s strategic plan for Jesus & John the Baptist.
Don’t overlook opportunities to share the love of Christ with others. Today is the day of salvation! (2 Cor. 6:2)
Cling to the hope of our salvation to find joy when life’s trials get you down (1 Peter 1:6).
2 Corinthians 6 reminds us that our invitation is waiting. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day your life can be brand-new!
2 Samuel 22:3 reminds us that God is our refuge, shield, salvation, rescue, and savior. What more could we ask for? Amen!
Have you ever broken or lost something expensive? Praise God that his gift of salvation can never be taken away! I am his; he is mine. Amen!
I love the word picture in Isaiah 61:10 about the Lord clothing us in his righteousness – a blanket of salvation, warm & secure in his arms.
Two of my kids are rehearsing for a Shakespeare play this fall, and understanding the dialogue can be as tricky as reading the King James Version of the Bible. Oftentimes when a subordinate is addressing his superior in Old English, he uses the phrase, “My lord …” I started thinking about how many lords (with a lowercase L) we can have in our lives.
Other people can be our lord, when we defer to their influence. Money can certainly become our lord, if we let it. Likewise, ambition and greed can be lord of our lives. We can be lord over others when we wield authority in a way that makes people feel subservient to us.
But what of Jesus? He doesn’t want to be the lowercase-lord of our lives; he wants us to acknowledge him as Lord with a capital L. Jesus is the only one worthy of being called Lord, as his disciple cried out in John 21:7 and Peter reiterated in Acts 10:36. When we confess Jesus as Lord, we are offering him authority over our lives – not because he demands it of us like a feudal lord over his fiefdom, but because we willingly give up control out of loving submission to him.
Jesus also came to be our Savior – again, with a capital S. We can think of countless saviors (with a lowercase S) in our lives. When I was just a toddler, my mom was my savior when she dislodged a Maple Nut Goodie from the back of my throat as I was choking. I could have died, and she saved me. A parent’s love is sacrificial: she would lay down her life for her kids. A parent’s love is authoritative: there was a time when she could dictate my comings and goings. A parent’s love endures: her love for me is unconditional.
A parent’s love is safe: she would do everything in her power to protect me. And yet, even she can’t save me from myself. As deep and abiding as my mom’s love is toward me, she cannot be my Savior. Only Jesus can be my capital-S Savior because of his perfect sacrifice.
Who do you say Jesus is? Have you accepted him as Lord and Savior of your life?
Are you curious about God’s salvation gift? I would love to listen & talk about your questions.