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Category: Jesus’ Preeminence

The Missing Piece

Topic: Salvation                                                                                 Printer Friendly

Author: Illustration Exchange

ILLUSTRATION

Nothing is complete without Jesus. He is the “Author” and the “Completer,” the “Beginning” and the “End” (Hebrews 12:2, Revelation 22:13). Everything exists because of Him, and everything is missing something without Him; and not just missing something, but the central thing; the thing that supplies true meaning and purpose to all things.

That’s what the Bible means when it says of Jesus, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen (Romans 11:36).

This applies to everything, the animate and the inanimate alike. Take for example the Old Testament Law. Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). In other words, the OT Law is incomplete, it’s missing something without Jesus.

Sometimes when Jesus is missing it’s more evident than at other times. Take for example Exodus 31:15, where we read, “You have six days each week for your ordinary work, but the seventh day must be a Sabbath day of complete rest, a holy day dedicated to the LORD. Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death.”

“Relax or die!” Isn’t that what God is saying here? We tend to focus on the long list of things the Law commands us to do, but what about the command to rest from all of our doing? It’s hard to say which of the two we fail at most miserably, our doing or our resting.

Nevertheless, “Anyone who works on the Sabbath must be put to death,” seems like a gross and bizarre overreaction on God’s part. In what universe does this punishment fit this crime? It makes sense that doing the wrong things should be a crime, but should failing to do nothing be a punishable offense? And so severly punished?

Clearly, there’s something missing.

missingpieceAPPLICATION

“Relax or die!” makes no sense without Jesus; with Jesus, it makes perfect sense.

That’s because Jesus IS the Sabbath rest we all so desperately need!  By fulfilling all of the commands of the Law and by offering His perfect life as a sacrifice for our sins, Jesus became our Sabbath rest.

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Standing In For Tom Cruise

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Topic: Salvation
Scripture: 1 Peter 2:24; 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 2:17
Source: “Standing In” by Bryson Smith, as published on Perspective.org.au, Perspective Vol8 No4, 2001, from an article published in the SYDNEY MORNING HERALD, Sunday Life Section, Sept 17, 2000
Author: Bryson Smith 

“I [once] read an interesting article … all about movie stand-ins,” says Bryson Smith. “They’re the people who replace movie stars in scenes that are dangerous or just uncomfortable. Like Glenn Duhigg, an ex-lawyer who worked as the stand-in for Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible 2.”

As Duhigg himself recalls:

It sounds very glamorous saying you’re the stand-in for Tom Cruise but I don’t think many people realize the long hours and constant demands that deflate your ego very quickly. The days are long. Whatever scene Tom was in, I would be the one standing there, being him sometimes for ages as the crew set up the shot – getting the lighting just right and the props just so. I’d be standing there for hours out in the weather, getting drenched in the rain or sun stroke out in the heat. And then Tom would just walk on the set from his air-conditioned caravan or out of his beautiful sports car once the scene was ready.” As one of the other stand-ins said, “I realized very quickly the difference between being a star and being a stand-in.”

[Bryson Smith is a member of the ministry team at Dubbo Presbyterian Church, an evangelical church in rural Australia.]

Application:

“But you see,” says Smith, “on the cross, Jesus Christ was our stand-in. He endured the discomfort, the pain, the punishment from God, all in our place. He accepted God’s anger on himself instead of us. He was our stand-in.

“Amazing that he would do that, because really he’s the important one. You wouldn’t expect Tom Cruise to stand-in for that bloke Glenn Duhigg. No, no. Tom’s the important one! And yet, even though Jesus is the important one, a divine king come to earth, yet he stood in for us.”

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed” (1 Peter 2:24). “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18). “Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people” (Hebrews 2:17).

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Stealing Baby Jesus

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Topic: Christmas
Scripture: Colossians 1:12-18
Source: Tracking Systems Direct
Author: Illustration Exchange

NBC News:

When Baby Jesus disappeared … from a Nativity scene on the lawn of the Wellington, Fla., community center, village officials didn’t follow a star to locate him. A GPS device mounted inside the life-size ceramic figurine led sheriff’s deputies to a nearby apartment, where it was found face down on the carpet. An 18-year-old woman was arrested in the theft.

Giving up on old-fashioned padlocks and trust, a number of churches, synagogues, governments and ordinary citizens are turning to technology to protect holiday displays from pranks or prejudice.

It’s a sign of the times. Holiday display theft is on the rise, and Baby Jesus is a particularly common target.

  • At First United Methodist Church in Kittanning, PA., a baby Jesus was stolen and replaced with a pumpkin.
  • In Eureka Springs, AK., someone who took off with a plastic baby Jesus from a public display, as well as the concrete block and chain that was supposed to keep it locked down.
  • In Meridian Hills, IN, a couple stole the figurine, and then led police on a high-speed chase in an effort to keep their loot.
  • A parishioner of a Brooklyn church prayed that whoever stole the Baby Jesus from a $1,700 Nativity scene dedicated to his late parents would have the heart to return it.

Sensing the opportunity, reports NBC News, security companies have increasingly started rolling out products and special seasonal contracts specifically designed to address the threat. “We have seen a growing number of cities and homeowners simply frustrated with holiday theft and vandalism, and that is the primary reason behind the increased use of GPS theft recovery systems during the holidays,” explained a Tracking System Direct specialist.

Application:

“Stealing” Jesus isn’t just a “seasonal” threat.

Everyday, whether at the hands of false religions, pseudo-Christian cults, false prophets, or even secular humanists and atheists, Jesus is being plucked from his place of prominence in the Gospel message.

Materialists and commercialists pluck him from the center of the Christmas season and replace Him with Santas and sleighs and gifts and gadgets galore.

Secular humanists and atheists rob Him of His divinity, reducing Him to mere human, or worse yet, mythical status.

Take whatever security measures are necessary to keep Jesus in your Christmas this holiday season, giving Him, in all His glory, His place of preeminence.

“Giving thanks unto the Father … Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence” (Colossians 1:12-18, KJV).

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