Newsletter January 2017
As we come to the end of another year and take down the Christmas decorations, we reflect on the events of 2016 and look forward to 2017, praying that it will bring us the blessings we so desire: in our families, our careers and education, our finances, and our spiritual walk. We may make New Year’s resolutions, hoping that this time round we will actually succeed in keeping them. We may be looking beyond our immediate circumstances, wishing that the trouble in our world might change for the better, and peace and prosperity might come.
The Jewish people living at the time of Jesus were also hoping to see a change for the good. They had heard prophecies regarding God’s kingdom and the freedom and peace its arrival would bring. But how would it come? What would be the sign of its arrival? In this atmosphere of yearning for a new beginning, a prophet named John appears, who calls the people to turn from their sins to God and be baptised in preparation for the coming of His kingdom. At this point, Mark begins his gospel account:
The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. 2 As it is written in the Prophets:
“Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’” (Mark 1:1-2)
Then, one day, Jesus comes to John to be baptised of him, and as He comes up out of the water the Spirit of God descends on Him and a voice comes from heaven, saying, “You are My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Expectation turns into fulfilment, hope into reality. The King has entered the stage of human history to establish His reign. With Jesus’ arrival, John’s ministry of preparation has come to an end; he is arrested and eventually executed. Now Jesus begins to preach, saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.”
We are living in the time of fulfilment. Heaven has come to earth. The Almighty God, the ruler of the universe has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love. (Colossians 1:13) All we who confess our sins, who receive His forgiveness and follow Jesus wholeheartedly receive new life and a new identity as citizens of this spiritual kingdom. Our future is secured, our eternal inheritance guaranteed. We are no longer of the world, just as Jesus is not of the world. (John 17:16). Yet we remain in the world, for now, as ambassadors of the new kingdom to which we now belong. From now on, we are commissioned to call others, so they too can be reconciled to God through Jesus Christ as we have been. (2 Corinthians 5:20)
As we leave the old year behind and enter the new, let us not focus so much on a four-digit number at the end of a date. Let us rather embrace what Jesus Christ has already done for us and answer His call to share the hope of the gospel with others. Resolutions are made with the best of intentions but usually broken before the year is over. Then, disappointed with ourselves and our circumstances, we spend the remaining months of that year waiting for yet another new beginning, instead of walking daily in His power and in His service.
God is not limited by our time restraints: Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation. Jesus, the King, has come. All was fulfilled when He gave His life on the cross. Therefore let us live every day of the year in His power and to His glory. Whatever 2017 may bring, let us rejoice in our salvation and look forward to that day when He returns to receive us into our eternal inheritance. Meanwhile, let us tell the people of the world that they too can enter God’s kingdom through the blood that Jesus shed for their forgiveness as well as ours.