As we continue to journey with the question of who Jesus is, this week on virtual church we will be entering through the strange window of Jesus initially not wanting to share his identity.
“Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, and he cried out, “What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.” But Jesus rebuked him, saying, “Be silent, and come out of him!” (Mark 1:23-25)
As Jesus began his earthly ministry and stepped out into the mission to which the Father was sending him, he knew that it was indeed not going to be easy. The road ahead was long and winding, and so here at the outset it is not that Jesus didn’t want to share the TRUTH (he always wants to do that), but that the people were not ready to hear it.
Sadly, I believe that we can relate to that, especially at this point in our history. As we think about, Biblical truths and characteristics of God which he has revealed to us, we have got to take them all seriously. God is jealous. God is Judge. God is Just. These are all valid, as are the facts that, God is Glorious. God is Gracious. God is Good.
The problem, as I see it, is that instead of accepting that God is who he says he is, that he is, and can be, both Just (by which we mean he is right and proper in all he does) in his sentencing of the unrepentant sinner and gracious at the same time.
As followers of Christ, we are made right (just) in Christ. But again, to remain in Christ requires us to be repentant (to turn away from sin and toward God. To step into a life of walking toward him and not keeping him at arm’s length).
In going to the Cross, Jesus did not flout justice instead he satisfied it. Therefore, the Father’s grace and mercy does not prevent him from exercising his justice, and visa-versa.
“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8)
God does not change. This is another characteristic which we need to accept, and in that we can trust that what he says he will do will be accomplished. What is written in his Word, is trustworthy and can be believed.
There are many passages of scripture which can help us to see this. However, the place I am most drawn is Malachi 3 which talks of the Messenger of God refining his people (v3). This talks of mercy, grace and love, as God works to mold us into that which is best pleasing to him. However, at the same time it speaks of God drawing near for judgement, bearing witness against sorcerers, adulterers, those who bear false witness, those who mistreat others, those who do not fear him (v5).
“For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, have not perished.” (Malachi 3:6)
God’s promise to us, is one of covenant relationship - His promise to be our God if we commit to being his people. He will not stop seeking us, and He is always calling us back to him - but the decision on whether to answer that call is fully in our court. The people of Israel broke the covenant that was made as God brought them out of Egypt, which led God to, as Jeremiah 31 tells us, make a New Covenant where he says: “I will forgive their iniquity, and remember their sins no more.”
God is in the business of reconciliation. I love verse 37 of Jeremiah 31 as it talks of God declaring his rejection of the people of Israel if the heavens can be measured and the foundations of the earth explored. This shows God’s faithfulness to his promises, as neither of these two things are possible.
He will not forget you. But woe to you who do not repent, and turn away from your wicked ways.