This time of year, as usual, there will be a lot of preparation, a lot of travelling, and a lot of partying going on. And during such time, many will wrongly assume that Jesus is in their midst, while in fact he is not. Thus, our gentle advice: Make sure that Jesus is with you. Don’t just assume He is.
In Hebrews chapter 9, the Bible tells us that Jesus Christ came to die in order to take away the sins of the world. When Jesus died as the Lamb of God – without defect, He did so once and for all, unlike the Jewish High Priests who continuously offered animal sacrifices year after year. The text also reminds us that life is a journey and at the end of it we must all appear before the judgment seat of God.
“ Just as people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment, so Christ was sacrificed once to take away the sins of many; and he will appear a second time, not to bear sin, but to bring salvation to those who are waiting for him. (Heb. 9:27-28)
Life, like any other journey, definitely requires preparation. But how much preparation is required and does it matter whom we travel with?
Reflecting on life’s journey, Tom McLemore says, “As with all journeys, this one requires preparation. Heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people.” Therefore, necessary preparation needs to be made and the right travel companion must be chosen. That companion is Jesus, our saviour and guide. But unfortunately, many people assume that Jesus is with them, while in fact, He is not. They are like Joseph and Mary who were returning home while leaving Jesus behind in Jerusalem.
In Luke 2:41-52 we read that:
“Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. Thinking he was in their company, they travelled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.” Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” But they did not understand what he was saying to them. Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man
ARE WE REALLY TRAVELLING WITH JESUS?
It is possible to be travelling without Jesus and not to realize it. And this is happening today to many people. Things are not always what they seem. Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end, it leads to death.”
Jesus’ parents had taken it for granted that He was with them. They might have taken someone else’s word for it. After all, Jesus had been with them for the past 12 years. They assumed Jesus was with them then and had failed to check out the facts.
It is possible to assume God is with us, when in fact He is not. Samson is another example. After Samson told his wife Delilah about his Nazirite vow, Delilah made him sleep on her knees, and she called a man and had him shave off the seven locks of Samson head. Samson thought that he was still powerful and could set himself free like before. But he did not know that the LORD had left him. (Judg. 16:19, 20).
Many on the day of judgment will have completed the journey to eternity thinking that Jesus has been with them when in fact He wasn’t.
In Matthew 7:21-23 Jesus says, 21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?’ 23 Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
My friends, we cannot afford to assume that Jesus is with us…or to merely take it for granted. Nor should we take someone else’s word for it! We must check out the facts in the word of God. In 2 Corinthians 13:5, the apostle Paul advises us to “Examine ourselves to see whether we are in the faith”; to test ourselves.”
It is possible to look for Jesus in the wrong places, just like his parents did. Jesus’ parents found him at what seems to be the last place they would have looked for him. They didn’t find Jesus among friends and relatives… What are we saying? Are we saying friends and relatives are bad? Not at all. But the truth is that some friends and relatives’ company may not lead you to heaven.
So, are you travelling, partying this holiday season? Very likely. Then, would you like Jesus to be in your midst? If so, don’t just assume He is, but make sure He is by behaving in a Christlike manner. As you prepare for your party, as you entertain people and/or being entertained, remember to ask yourself what would Jesus do? Remember the great motto used among some Christians as a reminder: WWJD? Ask yourself WWJD, and conduct yourself accordingly”. Would Jesus get involved in any kind of indecent acts? Would he be cracking crude jokes? Would he…? Would Jesus ignore the needy or would he help them?
The Scripture tells us what Jesus did. He attended to their needs. Jesus healed the sick; he fed the hungry by thousands. And as we observed earlier, He was found In the temple – attending to his Father’s affairs.
Where will we find Jesus today? McLemore asks, “Is it so strange then, that Jesus is often found in some of the last places men would look for Him?
In order for us to journey with Jesus, we must first be joined to him in the waters of baptism. Consider the following passages:
“Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? 4We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.” (Rom. 6:3,4).
“Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.” (Col. 2:12).
In 1 Peter 3:20-21, Peter says, “ to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God.[ It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ…”
In Mark 16:15-16 Jesus said to His disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
And yet how many people today think they can have Jesus without being baptized into Him? How many have been told to simply pray the so-called “sinner’s prayer”?. The word of God, is clear. Jesus is found in the waters of baptism. It is after baptism that Jesus adds those who are saved to His church (Acts 2:47), which is the household of God (1 Tim. 3:15).
If people refuse to look for Jesus, or not look for him where he commands them to, they will not find Him and will arrive in eternity having travelled without Him. They will have taken the wrong way and will not make it to heaven. For Jesus clearly says, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6).
May those of us who have already found Jesus and made Him our Lord and Saviour, do everything we can to make our calling an election sure, putting into practice those things that Peter instructs us to – 1 Peter 1:5-8.
And may those who have not yet obeyed the gospel, do so without delay. Look for him in the scriptures where he may be found, and obey Him as he commands. Long ago, He was not among his parents’ friends and relatives and may not be among yours either.
Go in search of Him yourself. Mark 16:16 Jesus tells you where he may be found and what you need to do to be saved. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
Today is the day of salvation (2 Cor. 6:2).