MAKING IT REAL FOR HIS PEOPLE - John Piper
Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. —Hebrews 8:6
Christ is the Mediator of a new covenant, according to Hebrews 8:6. What does that mean? It means that his blood—the blood of the covenant (Luke 22:20; Hebrews 13:20)—purchased the fulfillment of God’s promises for us. It means that God brings about our inner transformation by the Spirit of Christ. And it means that God works all his transformation in us through faith in all that God is for us in Christ. The new covenant is purchased by the blood of Christ, effected by the Spirit of Christ, and appropriated by faith in Christ. The best place to see Christ working as the Mediator of the new covenant is in Hebrews 13:20–21: Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant [this is the purchase of the new covenant], even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will, working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. The words “working in us that which is pleasing in his sight” describe what happens when God writes the law on our hearts in the new covenant. And the words “through Jesus Christ” describe Jesus as the Mediator of this glorious work of sovereign grace. So the meaning of Christmas is not only that God replaces shadows with Reality, but also that he takes the reality and makes it real to his people. He writes it on our hearts. He does not lay his Christmas gift of salvation and transformation down for you to pick up in your own strength. He picks it up and puts in your heart and in your mind, and seals to you that you are a child of God.
Many times, I feel that God is distant. I think that one of the reasons may be because I am a physical being with visual inclinations—I like to see things to believe them and experience them and interact with them. Because God is invisible to me, many times, I feel that God is distant. And more than distant, many times, I feel that He is inactive in my life. But this advent devotional states the opposite by saying that God actively places reality—His salvation—into our hearts.
And that is the Christmas story. The story of a God Who was actively, enthusiastically, engagingly in love with His creation, so much so that He actively left His Son as a helpless babe in a dirty manger on the planet Earth. Beyond that, however, God not only told His Son to go down to earth, not only guided His ministry among humans, not only spread healing and teaching to humans, not only led His Son to a bloody death upon the cross, but actively and willingly placed the full blast of His just, violent, wrath upon Jesus, so that humanity would be clothed in Jesus’ righteousness and stand justified before God. And that is why we celebrate Christmas.
But the Christmas season is not the only time that Christians celebrate Jesus. God’s active saving work not only ended with the death of Jesus. As Hebrews 13:20 declares, God was actively engaged in bringing Jesus back from the dead, as well. And that is what the early Christians placed their hope in. The resurrection of Jesus was the hot topic back in the Early Church. Because that signified His victory, and thus their victory. And it signifies our victory as well, which is why we celebrate Easter.
So brothers and sisters of Arbor Bridge Church who are reading this right now, I humbly encourage all of us to not let our awe and wonder of our God to end with the Christmas story, but go beyond to the Easter story. Let us remember that God actively lowered His Son to the form of a baby crying in a manger, but He also actively raised Jesus from the dead and seated Him at His right hand. Lastly, let’s not even end with the Easter story, but look beyond to the day that Jesus comes back. Let us remember that Advent means coming, and as we celebrate this Advent season, we wish to not only celebrate how Jesus came to earth over 2000 years ago, but how He will come back again.