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(Part 76)


December 4, 2013

Today’s readings:
Isaiah 25:6-10
Psalm 23:1-6
Matthew 15:29-37

The ministry and mission of Jesus is all about overturning what is not right and restoring what is right according to God’s original plan. He brings light into the darkness of the world. He brings salvation from sin. He is Truth versus the father of lies. He is Peace in the midst of strife. He is the Way to those who have lost their way. He brings life to overturn death.

So in his public ministry, it was but natural for Jesus to overturn and restore. People brought the lame, the blind, the deformed and the mute to him and he cured them (Mt 15:30). Being so used to the sorry situation of people, “the crowds were amazed when they saw the mute speaking, the deformed made whole, the lame walking, and the blind able to see” (Mt 15:31a).

But the greatest restoration is the restoration of paradise, from Eden to the New Jerusalem. We were meant for paradise, a perfect existence, but it was lost, and Jesus came to make it possible for us to once again return to paradise. The New Jerusalem will be stark contrast to this world.

  • Here there is poverty, hunger and even famine. “On this holy mountain the Lord of hosts will provide for all peoples a feast of rich food and choice wines, juicy, rich food and pure, choice wines.” (Is 25:6). God will provide not just food but a feast!
  • Here there is mistrust, envy, selfishness, deceit, disunity, strife. “On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations.” (Is 25:7). People will see the truth that they are all children of God, that they are their brother’s keepers, that they must be united as is the one body that they are. People will be untangled from the web of deceit and disunity that has plagued peoples and nations throughout all time.
  • Here there is darkness, sickness, injury, despair and death. “He will destroy death forever.” (Is 25:8a). There will be no more death but only eternal life.
  • Here there is sorrow and pain. “The Lord God will wipe away the tears from all faces” (Is 25:8b). There will be no more mourning, wailing or pain, but only absolute joy in being with God forever.
  • Here there is condemnation. “The reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth” (Is 25:8c). There will be no condemnation or exclusion, but only welcome and entry into heaven.
    Jesus “went up on the mountain” (Mt 15:29b) and cured and restored the people. We in turn, having been cured and restored, will at the end of time go up “on this mountain” (Is 25:6a). This is Mount Zion, the city of the living God. This is the New Jerusalem. This is paradise. This is heaven. There we will live gloriously, “for the hand of the Lord will rest on this mountain” (Is 25:10a).

It is a long journey, from Eden to heaven. Some will be lost along the way. Some will get tired or frustrated and give up on their journey. Some will prefer the pleasures of pagan places along the way. But those who persevere will have their reward. The fullness of this blessing will be manifest in the end times. “On that day it will be said: ‘Indeed, this is our God; we looked to him, and he saved us! This is the Lord to whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!’” (Is 25:9). We look to Jesus the Savior. He has saved us. He will be the one to welcome us into heaven.

Who is this Jesus? He is our shepherd who guides and protects us (Ps 23:1-4). On earth we “walk through the valley of the shadow of death” (Ps 23:4a). But Jesus saves us and “restores my soul” (Ps 23:3a). Our souls are not lost to the netherworld, as the evil one strives to accomplish, but our souls make it to heaven where they belong, according to the original plan of God. On earth we may have nothing to eat, hungry and on the verge of collapse (Mt 15:32), but Jesus was able to multiply loaves and fish such that “all ate and were satisfied” (Mt 15:37a), with even more left over. Jesus has conquered the world and triumphed over death.

People need to meet this Jesus, in whom “there is nothing I lack” (Ps 23:1b), who “guides me along right paths” (Ps 23:3b), who comforts us (Ps 23:4c). How do people meet Jesus and have an intimate personal encounter with him? They need to hear the good news of salvation in him. They need to be evangelized. Then, even in this life, “goodness and mercy will pursue me all the days of my life” (Ps 23:6a). We will experience healing and restoration.

More importantly, when the end comes, we will make it to heaven. “I will dwell in the house of the Lord for endless days.” (Ps 23:6b).

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