Kingdom Principle: Death precedes Life, Obedience precedes Celebration
|Isaiah 63:7-9||Psalm 148||Hebrews 2:10-18||Matthew 2:13-23|
To be hung over is to take in too much and to suffer the effects of a major let down. Are you in a Christmas Hangover, waiting for the New Year or simply caught in the middle of wondering what is next and how to manage the buzz and rush of the season? “Pause this thought”
I wonder how many people spent this Christmas praying for someone else to die? It may seem odd, but I know it’s real; many people are on the “list” waiting of an organ transplant (around 100,000)– and their Christmas prayer was that God would grant them the gift of life by receiving the organ which they are desperate for to live. Yet – for this gift to be given – another must die. “Gather both thoughts” Organ donors are at the crux of both a Celebration and Mourning, Hangovers look back at the celebration and measure if it was worth it.
It was Jesus that hung, so that we need not suffer a hangover for he took the cross and grants us life. With Organ donors – the match must be perfect and the timing divine. Again in Christ all this has been met in “thee tonight.” But let us not forget, Jesus promises us eternal life, but he does not promote an easy life.
I often dread the traffic at Christmas and the tension of the extend family. Yet Joseph & Mary– After weeks of travel, the family “inn” where they hoped to stay, hasn’t saved them a bed. I know how frustrated I would be if upon arrival for Christmas dinner, if there was not enough seats at the table, much less, if I was told I have to go outside and beg while the rest of the family enjoys a home cooked meal. For, Joseph in less than one year – he went from being a man known for his righteousness, with a young maiden betrothed to be his bride; to becoming an outlaw on the run with a shunned woman and a child whom was not of his own. Yet in this the rush of the season; the Angels proclaiming the birth of the Messiah, the Wise men bring great gifts (I believe they came at the birth not later…) And yet the heels of the good news of great joy, in less than “4 hours” Joseph will need to transplant his son or he will die at the hands of Herod. (A heart or lung transplant must take place with in 4-6 hours.) What is more is that others died because Jesus was born. This is much like the donor list… it is hard to think about – but it is there. This is not the typical This is not what we thinking how as an evangelical message of hope And yet we see in Joseph acts of obedience – action of submission regardless of your own personal awareness or willingness. Imagine if Joseph knew other baby boys would be killed, he would have been torn with how to warn them before he left town… We are often caught in the aftermath of a bad hangover when it comes to comprehending all that it meant for Jesus to come to earth. Yet at the same time we are flooded with the joy and praise of being called up to be a donor recipient for new life has been given.
If you think this has been a bit raw – take a second look at the the context of the Isaiah passage, and wrestle with the fact that Jesus has to suffer and be tempted so that his sacrifice would be perfect. (He was perfect and sinless – but for atonement to be complete, suffering was essential.) In all this – Jesus broke the power of the devil who holds the power of death. And He did so to make us Holy, so that we might sing his praises and live a life of obedience as a faithful servant.
So – How do you cure a hangover – in regards to alcohol – scripture is clear – do not be drunk on wine but rather of the Spirit. (Eph. 5:18) The cure is in understanding the root of the problem. Find a greater power source to lift you beyond all trouble, worry and strife, and you will be the cure. How do you overcome the dilemma of praying for another person’s death? Again it is a matter of perspective and understanding. You are called to have no fear of death and you overcome the enemy’s wrath in service and faith. What does all this mean for you and me this week?
You are called to give your life to Christ, and in doing so you are put you on the donor list of the Kingdom. We are to pray Thy will be done and this means you & I must die daily, but it also means that you will be born again in the same light. Since it’s better to give than receive, how much greater shall it be to be on both ends of the exchange. This is how to overcome the crashing blow of a hangover – remain caught up in the Spirit. For you have been made Holy, by the one who is Holy.
Obedience precedes Celebration – (and Easter precedes Christmas) If you do not submit your name to be a “organ donor” prior to your death, chances are not likely that your organs will result in someone else’s Celebration. This is a personal choice, but let’s be real – someone ought to be celebrating your death other than Satan. This is not a soapbox to become a donor –for I, myself am being convicted and needing to update my records, this is a call to see that obedience preceded the celebration of the life of Christ. This is a call to embrace suffering and a way in the wilderness as the means by which God produces and promotes his servants. This is a call to listen to the leading of the Spirit and to be filled with power from on high to do the unexpected and to embrace a new course of life this next year.