1 Nevertheless, there will be no more gloom for those who were in distress. In the past he humbled the land of Zebulun and the land of Naphtali, but in the future he will honor Galilee of the Gentiles, by the way of the sea, along the Jordan--
2 The people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of the shadow of death a light has dawned.
3 You have enlarged the nation and increased their joy; they rejoice before you as people rejoice at the harvest, as men rejoice when dividing the plunder.
4 For as in the day of Midian's defeat, you have shattered the yoke that burdens them, the bar across their shoulders, the rod of their oppressor.
5 Every warrior's boot used in battle and every garment rolled in blood will be destined for burning, will be fuel for the fire.
6 For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.
Let us understand and appreciate who Jesus is, the great and powerful Messiah, spoken of by God thousands of years in advance. Let us think about all the preparation, the incredible detail of 4000 years of prophecy.
1. The Power and the Prophecy
It began that Jesus would be the offspring of a woman, the promised offspring of Abraham. He would descend from the tribe of Judah, heir of the throne of David. The exact place of his birth was predicted, the time and circumstances--a virgin. The slaughter of infants at the time of his birth, the escape to Egypt and beginning in Galilee. He would be a priest after Melchizedek, rejected by the Jews, filled with wisdom. His triumphal entry, the singing of children calling out his name, his friend's betrayal. Being sold for 30 pieces of silver, buried in a potter's field, the traitor's place taken by another.
Silent when accused, struck and spit upon, hated without cause, crucified with sinners. Hands and feet pierced, mocked and insulted, given gall and vinegar to drink. Mocked, his side pierced, soldiers cast lots for his clothes, not a bone of his body broken. Buried with the rich, and resurrected from the dead on the third day
God showed with incredible detail exactly what would happen when his Son came to earth. More than anything else, the opportunity for us as Gentiles to begin a new life. The greatness of Jesus. Nobody ever has or ever will impact the world like Jesus Christ.
We have fallen on distracted times. The world is hungering for something it scarcely knows. Technology has come, but life is still a riddle and a delusion. Life is full of inventions, skills and genius, but life is more empty than ever before. Only one man can fill the soul--Jesus Christ, the Messiah.
Jesus never chiseled a statue, painted a picture, wrote a poem, composed music. Never published a book, framed a law, made a discovery, contrived an invention. Never wore a crown, held a scepter, carried a purple robe, never held an office. Did absolutely nothing in art, literature, science, philosophy, statesmanship or war.
Today, if a President or king entered this room we would greet him, standing. If Jesus entered this room, we would greet him on our knees. We need to ask the question, with all these things in mind, "Who is Jesus to me?" When we look around the world, Jesus is everywhere. Books, monuments, temples. All of this means nothing if the message isn't communicated in a man or woman's life. Being a disciple is the only way to communicate the true meaning of who he was and is.
To think it began 6000 years ago, and we are the fruit of that prophecy. Way back, when we were young, we believe God had a plan to use our life. If it began long ago, how much powerful is it today.
2. The Messiah and His Messengers
13 When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say the Son of Man is?"
14 They replied, "Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15 "But what about you?" he asked. "Who do you say I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
There was nobody alive they could compare Jesus to. Had to go to the grave. Even today, 2000 years later, who can compare to Jesus Christ? His love, mission, faithfulness, righteousness. Who can compare? Today, though, the question is simple. "Who is Jesus to you?" "I know what the people say. What do you say? What do I represent to you?" Peter spelled it out. "You are the Christ." What did this really mean to him?
67 "You do not want to leave too, do you?" Jesus asked the Twelve.
68 Simon Peter answered him, "Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.
69 We believe and know that you are the Holy One of God."
To Peter, Jesus was everything. He had nothing else, nowhere else to go. Today, who is Jesus to us? If challenged to give it all up.. Would we respond like Peter? "I have nowhere to go. I have nothing else" We see too many disciples today turning their backs on Jesus and the church. It makes it very clear who Jesus is in their life. He's not the Messiah, the Christ.
If challenged to leave, what would we do? Would we fall on our knees? Would we run somewhere else because we've been waiting for the opportunity? We have the doctrine on straight. We know what it takes to be saved. The question, though, 20 years later is, will we be faithful to what we know?
Think what it means to be a disciple of Christ. That is our challenge today. We have to restore being like Christ. What's the difference between us and others? Jesus is the reason. Why should our lives be different from the rest of the world? Jesus. Our life is more like Jesus.
Why should our family be different? Jesus. We're all trying to follow him. Why should our work be different from all our co-workers? Jesus. Why should everything we do, our schoolwork, friends be different? Jesus. That's the reason. If it's not different, if it's the same, we have to ask a question . . . Are we the true messengers of the Messiah, or not?
When they looked at the apostles, they were unschooled, ordinary men. They recognized, though, that they had been with Jesus. They were just like him. They were unafraid of the religious authorities, challenged at the risk of their lives. Many know what the Bible all about, but don't practice it. "Who is the Messiah in our life?"
15 When they had finished eating, Jesus said to Simon Peter, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me more than these?" "Yes, Lord," he said, "you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my lambs."
16 Again Jesus said, "Simon son of John, do you truly love me?" He answered, "Yes, Lord, you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Take care of my sheep."
17 The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.
18 I tell you the truth, when you were younger you dressed yourself and went where you wanted; but when you are old you will stretch out your hands, and someone else will dress you and lead you where you do not want to go."
19 Jesus said this to indicate the kind of death by which Peter would glorify God. Then he said to him, "Follow me!"
20 Peter turned and saw that the disciple whom Jesus loved was following them. (This was the one who had leaned back against Jesus at the supper and had said, "Lord, who is going to betray you?")
21 When Peter saw him, he asked, "Lord, what about him?"
Jesus put the question to Peter. "Am I really that special in your life?" "Then show it." That should be the difference in us. Not just sing about Jesus, not just preach about Him but following Him. At any point in time, we, our ministry can leave Jesus as our standard. We can focus on one another, compare ourselves with everybody else, like Peter
3. Closing In on His Coming
It doesn't matter where we are in the world. We're in the same fight.
12 I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.
13 And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father.
14 You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it.
Ask the Lord, and he will do it. Maybe not in the time frame that we desire. Maybe He'll let us sit on it. God can be glorified through weakness as well as through victory. Here's the question. Are we ready to do even greater things?
We're on the verge of doing something never seen in the history of God's people. Six billion people in the world, and we have the gospel of Christ to take them into glory. The opportunity to lift up the name of Jesus, the Messiah, is unparalleled. They did some great things in the first century, but after 2000 we can do greater things.
It all starts with us extending our hand, laying it on the line and saying, "Jesus is Lord". If we see somebody struggling, let us go help them. It's time to stretch out our hands and start going.
2 Peter 3:10-14
10 But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.
11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives
12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.
13 But in keeping with his promise we are looking forward to a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
14 So then, dear friends, since you are looking forward to this, make every effort to be found spotless, blameless and at peace with him.