All writers in Op Ed are here to inform and acknowledge issues of importance to our communities, however these writings represent the views and opinions of the authors and not necessarily of The Advertiser.
Near the end of the Bible, Jesus Christ, now seated on the throne, makes an amazing declaration. From this position, he speaks with indisputable sovereignty: “Mark this: I make all things new!” Such an assertion is hard to ignore, especially in January. The flat statement begs no interpretation or analysis; it has to be taken for what it is or simply set aside in unbelief.
As we try to deal with the implications of Jesus’ words, the credibility of the one speaking becomes the linchpin. Another statement comes to mind, another assertion presented as fact: “He is risen, as he said” (Matt 28: 6a NKJV and below). I’m not sure how I’d respond to the communication of an angel except to say I’d probably react the way all humans in the Bible do–namely, with fear. Remember, the first thing angels say in these encounters is, “Don’t be afraid.” I suspect I’d need that reassurance, as well. In that shaken-up state, I’d be weighing what I knew and what I’d just heard. The credibility of Jesus would hardly be the question.
Jesus had issued several clear warnings about what was to come. We read the historical record–the demands of Jesus’ adversarial fellow countrymen and the subsequent Roman capitulation. As we do, we dare not tell ourselves, I wouldn’t have gone along with that! Think about Peter. He was one of Jesus’ closest friends, a leader among the disciples, and a future leader of the church. The night Jesus was arrested, this very Peter denied Jesus three times. We probably wouldn’t have done better, not a one of us. And this returns us to Jesus’ declaration, a sort of bottom line near the end of the vast biblical record: “Mark this: I make all things new!” Like all who try to deal with Jesus, first or twenty-first century, Peter needed to be made new.
At the beginning of 2023, when we remember Jesus’ amazing promise, the biblical witness to his life, death, and resurrection supports a belief that he’ll be able–and faithful, as well–to keep that promise. Make a list those aching imperfections, errors, and wrong choices only you can name, old wrongs that beg to be made new. Which of us has nothing requiring change or correction? Memory and experience need to be washed clean! Wouldn’t you rather not think about the people you’ve influenced in a harmful way? What about the unkind words? Such things can be devastating, resulting in harmful and permanent effects. What about wrong choices? What about things in ourselves flatly condemned as sin by Scripture? Who can say, that’s not me? Is there a single thing about our lives not tainted with self-interest? Life can be a mess and we’ve contributed! Jesus says, “Mark this: I make all things new!”
Seconds before he died, the one who would make that promise declared, “It is finished.” Finished! Jesus wasn’t just referring to his physical existence. He wasn’t just facing his own physical death. Obedience to his Father’s will was his driving principle and he saw a bigger picture. Even his enemies had to acknowledge his wondrous life and ministry. Jeering at the foot of the cross, they cried out, “He saved others, himself he cannot save. If he is the King of Israel, let him come down from the cross and we will believe in him” (Matt 27: 42 NKJV). Jesus did better than that. Three days later, he walked out of that tomb and we are the beneficiaries.
What can prevent such an Advocate, a person death couldn’t keep down, from making all things new? Nothing, as far as I can tell. Jesus said, “Mark this: I make all things new!” What a heartening thought as we face another year, one that will certainly bear evidence of our own sins and mistakes. The year is new, but what life do we have if we aren’t newly alive by the Spirit of Jesus? If we aren’t, like him, driven to spread around this new word, the astonishing good news of the salvation he’s accomplished, what is our message? If we’re just looking to ourselves to navigate the hazards that will surely present themselves in 2023. as in every other year, is our trust well-founded? I know of no better name than Jesus. He can be believed.