Christmas Devotions: Remembering …The Neon Sign

Originally posted on December 19, 2011

Maps just aren’t enough for me.  I need some curious combination of maps plus highly specific step-by-step directions plus landmarks to get me anywhere.

I’m a hopeless case of lostness, the kind of girl who gets turned around in parking lots and shopping malls.  My life would be far simpler if my destinations were always marked with large neon red signs flashing, “This is it!  Turn here!!”

The prophet Isaiah knew that some day we would all see the flashing neon sign saying, “This is the Savior, the Messiah, the Christ.” He said:  “In that day they will say, ‘Surely this is our God; we trusted in him, and he saved us. This is the LORD, we trusted in him; let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation’” (Isaiah 25:9).

Indeed a day will come when “every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” at the very mention of Jesus’ name (Philippians 2:10).

We’re not there yet.  Many believe; many do not.

Even John the Baptist had a moment of questioning.

Years before, he had so confidently announced to a crowd around the Jordan River that Jesus was the Messiah, the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.

But when John sat in prison, awaiting execution at the hands of a vengeful king and his devious wife, he sent his own disciples to Jesus with a question, “Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?” (Luke 7:20).

Scripture tells us:

At that very time Jesus cured many who had diseases, sicknesses and evil spirits, and gave sight to many who were blind.  So he replied to the messengers, “Go back and report to John what you have seen and heard: The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor”  (Luke 7:21-23).

How could John know that Jesus was indeed the Savior?  Because Jesus’ presence had made a difference.

Jesus’ answer to John’s question was a landmark.  It was the neon sign John needed to be comforted and reassured.  Yes, Jesus was the Messiah that Isaiah had foretold would come:

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair (Isaiah 61:1-3).

He wasn’t a Messiah who came just to be, to exist, to occupy earthly space for a time and then fulfill a checklist of requirements before returning to a heavenly throne.  He wasn’t punching some divine time clock and then zooming out the door at quitting time.

Isaiah had promised and Jesus fulfilled.  He came to kneel in the dirt, to touch lepers and heal them, to eat with sinners and to extend a hand of grace to a woman about to be stoned for adultery.  He challenged the legalism of the religious elite, called simple fishermen and tax collectors to be His closest followers, and told a crowd of listeners that the meek, the peacemakers, and the poor in spirit are the ones who will see God and inherit the earth.

And He came to die.  Not the painless and peaceful slipping away after a long life and a fulfilled old age.  He died the gross and horridly painful death of crucifixion and felt the full separation from God His Father as this perfect Lamb assumed all of the sins of mankind  . . . ever.

He lived. He died.  He rose again.  All because He loved us.  Because He loved you.  You and me, sinners steeped in sin, deserve a punishment that He endured on our behalf.  He did it because on our own, our goodness and morality could never achieve the perfection needed to enter into heaven.  We just can’t be good enough.

So, we head for destruction until the one day it gets personal for us.  It’s not just the angels and the shepherds, Mary and Joseph, and wise men from the East who bow down low and proclaim, “We have our savior.”

It’s us.

And we know it’s true because Jesus’ presence in our lives makes a difference.  At salvation and beyond, our encounters with Him change us.  His revolutionary impact on our hearts and minds transforms us bit by bit into His reflection.

We submit our lives to the Lordship of this Savior and allow Him to change us, totally and without reservation, because Jesus’ presence in our lives should still be making a difference.

Heather King is a wife, mom, Bible Study teacher, writer and worship leader.  Most importantly, she is a Christ follower with a desire to help others apply the Bible to everyday life with all its mess, noise, and busyness.  To read more devotionals by Heather King, click here.

Copyright © 2012 Heather King

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