January 1, 2013
READ: Ephesians 3:14-19
May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God (v.19).
The hope of change is in the air as we enter the New Year. It’s the anticipation of a new outlook or a new direction or the chance to do things differently.
At the turn of the first century, the Jewish people were anticipating a change. In many ways they were still reeling from being captured by the Babylonians—something that had taken place more than 600 years earlier. Their aggressors had destroyed Jerusalem and Solomon’s temple, carting off most of the people to Babylon. It had been devastating—it felt like Egypt all over again, as they were once more enslaved in a foreign land (Psalm 137:1).
Babylon eventually fell to other empires and many Jews made their way back home to rebuild, but they were not yet free. In Jesus’ day it was the ruthless Romans who were running the show (Luke 2:1), and the Jewish people again felt the crushing weight of oppression. Still, they lived with an ever growing expectation that God would overthrow the Romans, just as He had done with Pharaoh and the Egyptians. Again, they were waiting for God to rescue them from their oppressors and reestablish His kingdom.
It was into this increasing anticipation of another exodus that Jesus burst on the scene. His countrymen were more than ready for God to oust the Romans. They wanted an uprising—which is partly why they called for the release of Barabbas (a revolutionary) rather than the release of Jesus (John 18:40). They couldn’t see that Jesus came to rescue them (and the whole world) and reestablish His kingdom through love, not force (3:16; Galatians 1:4).
Simply love. It’s what Jesus embodied and modelled throughout His life. This is the power He unleashed to change the world, culminating in His death and resurrection.
Jesus’ sacrificial love seeks the best for us and from us. —Jeff Olson
Read Matthew 11:12 and note what Jesus said about His kingdom and those who are against it.
How does Jesus’ example of love instead of force inspire you in your relationships? What sacrifices do you need to make to seek the best for others?