Travelling into 2018 with Jesus
This weekend is the peak weekend for holiday bookings and travel. Everyone wants a good deal. What do travel agents attempt to do? Well, they say they know the way, how to get to our chosen destination. They attempt, through brochures, to tell the truth – although not always. Some people have arrived at their holiday destination to find it’s a building site! Travel agents also say they will give you life like you’ve never had it before. Does any of this ring a bell? Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”’ (John 14:6). There won’t be any messing about there.
As we step into 2018 I want to offer encouragement to you through the triology of Psalms 22, 23 and 24, what may be described as God’s travel brochure in the scriptures.
Psalm 22: God’s travel brochure.
Psalm 22 is a description of the Crucifixion. It is not pleasant reading. This is also described in Isaiah 53. But wait a minute … it was written in 1,000 BC, yet crucifixion was invented by the Romans 700 years later. ‘And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.’ (2 Peter 1:19-21). Because the prophecies of the Old Testament are true it helps to prove scripture given and written under inspiration of God.
Psalm 23: We know the way.
Psalm 23 shows us an amazing companion, an amazing courier – the best companion to go forward into the New Year. Trust in Him. Jesus is ‘The way, and the truth, and the life.’ (John 14:6). Jesus says He will send a comforter to us in the Holy Spirit. ‘And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.’ (John 14:16). The Greek word for comforter is ‘paraclete,’ the one who comes alongside, who travels along with you. The Lord Jesus Christ will journey into 2018 with us, whatever our circumstances.
In Psalm 23 we are surrounded, enveloped by God. He is beneath us in green pastures. As a shepherd David constantly led his sheep to green grass. Jesus is beside us, by still waters. Our shepherd is with us. The paracelete is with us. Jesus is before me. There is a table. It was the custom in those days when you stayed with someone they prepared a meal for you. It was a special time. One problem of today is people do not eat together. But here a table is prepared – a banquet. There is a banquet in the church –communion. At the moment there’s an enemy trying to distort the Christian faith. One of them is marriage being attacked. We are in the presence of our enemies but the Saviour is with us. Whatever encompasses us in 2018, we have a table set before us as the Lord will bless us abundantly. Goodness and mercy follows us. In front of us, beyond us – it is not just there, it is also in the distance, is the home of the Lord, where we are going to. What an encouragement for 2018.
To offer life: Psalm 24.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life.”’ (John 14:6). The life that Jesus offers is not a normal life because normal life has a beginning and an end. Jesus offers eternal life. As the Ark of the Covenant had journeyed through the desert and was then brought finally on a cart into Jerusalem, Psalm 24 may have been written as they came in. Who can go there? ‘He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.’ (Psalm 24:4). Who can have clean hands, a pure heart and be vindicated? Jesus’s sacrifice can cleanse us. You can’t get a special deal on Christian faith. ‘Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat!’ (Isaiah 55:1). Salvation is free, you cannot buy it with money. Why? You could never bring enough! The Christian life wasn’t purchased with silver or gold but with the precious blood of the Lord Jesus.
There is a chant, ‘Lift up your heads, O gates!’ (Psalm 24:7). It is a psalm of ascent. You can hear them from a distance. It is a wonderful picture of movement into the presence of the Lord.
As we step out into 2018 we have an amazing travel guide, a wonderful companion in a life we’ve never had before. We may have to learn to walk again, to alter our attitude, but wherever we are, let’s go together as a church.