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(Part 60)


June 12, 2015

Today’s readings:
Hosea 11:1-9
Isaiah 12:2-6
Ephesians 3:8-19
John 19:31-37

God loved His people Israel, whom He delivered from slavery in Egypt. “When Israel was a child I loved him, out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hos 11:1). Unfortunately, Israel was ultimately ungrateful, rebellious and even idolatrous. “The more I called them, the farther they went from me, sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols.” (Hos 11:2). Israel was unmindful of the love and care and protection extended by God. “Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, who took them in my arms; but they did not know that I cared for them.” (Hos 11:3).

Due to their rebellion and disobedience, Israel would be overrun by its enemies. “He shall return to the land of Egypt, Assyria shall be his king, because they have refused to repent. The sword shall rage in his cities” (Hos 11:5-6a). Israel turned its back to God, and justly deserved its fate. It would have been right for God just to abandon them. “My people have their mind set on apostasy; though they call on God in unison, he shall not raise them up.” (Hos 11:7).

But how could God abandon His child? “How could I give you up, Ephraim, or deliver you up, Israel?” (Hos 11:8a). God is merciful and compassionate. “My heart is overwhelmed, my pity is stirred.” (Hos 11:8c). Ultimately God raised up from Israel the Messiah, a Savior. God sent His own Son to redeem His children. Jesus went to the cross to die for us. At the cross on Calvary, the soldiers “came to Jesus and saw that he was already dead” (Jn 19:33a). With his death and resurrection, Jesus conquered sin, darkness and evil. “God indeed is my salvation” (Is 12:2a).

So God delivered us from bondage and slavery to our own Egypt, that is, sin and the dominion of the evil one. Jesus restored us to our relationship as children of God. But we too, just like Israel, have been rebellious and disobedient. We too have turned our back on Jesus our Savior. As such, we are once again enmeshed in sin and darkness, and are in great danger of losing the salvation already won for us by Jesus.

What needs to happen? Jesus has to be proclaimed anew, so that so-called Christians can once again meet and know him. The aim is “that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith” (Eph 3:17a). Then one who meets Christ anew, in order to experience the fullness of God’s salvation, ought to live Christ as well. The aim is “that you, rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the holy ones what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Eph 3:17b-19).

How does one get to meet Christ and live Christ? It is when someone shares Christ. Just like Paul did, with all his imperfections. “To me, the very least of all the holy ones, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the inscrutable riches of Christ” (Eph 3:8). To share Christ is to preach about Jesus the Messiah and to tell people of “the eternal purpose that (God) accomplished in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Eph 3:11). One is to share Christ with “boldness of speech and confidence of access through faith in him.” (Eph 3:12).

So everything starts with God’s love. Out of love, God sent Jesus the Messiah, who won for us our salvation. We are to witness to Jesus, to share Christ, so that others may meet Christ and live Christ, and thus experience that salvation. Since God wants all to be saved, the task of sharing Christ is intended to be a worldwide work. “Among the nations make known his deeds, proclaim how exalted is his name. Sing praise to the Lord for he has done glorious things; let this be known throughout all the earth.” (Is 12:4b-5).

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