In Sydney two children go off to school but when they come home in the afternoon they find that their house is empty of all furniture and possessions and their parents have gone. The day began as normal without a hint of what was to come but now life will never be the same again.
A man comes home and finds a note on the table that his wife has left him. A woman gets an anonymous tip off that her husband is having an affair. A lady goes to her doctor about a growing lump. The grandfather carries his granddaughter piggyback all afternoon totally ignoring the tightness in his chest until the massive heart attack hits him. The young man works hard for a firm for many years only to receive out-of-the-blue a retrenchment. A mother goes along to help her primary school child at school and finds that she can’t follow her child’s education. A congregational member discovers that his favourite hymn is not in his Church’s new hymn book. A wife kisses her husband goodbye as he goes off to work only to have a policewoman come to her door an hour later informing her that he will never be coming home.
In our world today we are constantly bombarded with the reality that life is rapidly changing with all sorts of circumstances happening so quickly, in a moment, making sure that life will never be the same again.
When our personal relationships, future, health, and security go through change or crisis we all need an anchor, a security, someone or something that is stable and will not change on us. When we are uncertain about the future or adrift in a sea of change then we need sure direction.
And in the Christian Churches around the world, the Gospel of God’s friendship and sure hope is proclaimed to a world that has an insatiable hunger for the new and better but who at the same time is more and more lost and isolated from peace and security. Christians can speak about someone to a world who is either caught up only with today because they are scared of tomorrow or who is chasing the newest philosophy, religion, or fad in the vain hope of coping with life.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).
The centre of our hope, security, and anchor is a person; one who holds us; one who loves us; Jesus.
But all the religions of the world offer an anchor or security. But not like Christianity. In Mormonism the person of its founder Joseph Smith is largely irrelevant – it is the teachings that are important. The person of the philosopher Confucius is not essential to Confucianism – it is the teachings that are important. It is what Muhammad taught and revealed that is crucial for the Muslim. Take away Joseph Smith, Confucius, or Muhammad and their respective religions still stand and offer hope and security.
Take Jesus Christ out of Christianity and you are left with rubbish. Christianity is not about a set of rules of how to behave that are the same yesterday, today, and forever. Christianity is not about living a certain morality that is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Sadly so many Christians can act abominably. No, Christianity and all the security, peace, hope it offers in an ever changing world is about a person – Jesus Christ. It a relationship with Jesus that then determines how we should live.
Jesus has done something that will never change for all time. He died on a cross. That in itself is not unique – indeed two others died on crosses with Him. What is unique about Jesus is his resurrection. He is alive today and not some strange perpetuated memory of the past. This Jesus is alive today. And his resurrection gives us a lens to look back on His life and see that – wonder of wonders! – God himself has come to earth as a human being and suffered an innocent death to break the power of sin and death over us. God has come to earth as one of us to liberate us all from the clutches of hell. This resurrection lens now makes the most horrifying thing the most beautiful thing – a cross is transformed into the brightest beacon of love that God has for you. Until this earth is no more that cross will continue to shout its message of anchorage and security to a world stumbling in the dark.
The message doesn’t change no matter what is happening around you or what is happening within you. God has shown you his love – action first then the words! – but woe betide those who reject his free gift of love or who are lukewarm to his care.
Jesus is alive today and coming to us with his unchanging message of acceptance and love of us. Jesus hates sin and all evil that clings to us but loves us so much that he has rescued us from its power to condemn us.
This means that the Christian can know in particular that nothing anymore is a condemnation sent to us from God. When things go bad for us, when change threatens to swamp us then we can go back to the cross and know that we are not experiencing God’s anger towards us. When the cross of Jesus shines over our lives then we can know rather that God is not abandoning us but is working everything – and I mean everything! – out for our good.
This is the unchanging Jesus – that his love for you never changes; that his hatred for sin and evil never changes; that his cross and empty tomb never changes. Jesus is the one person that everyone in this world needs to hear about because He is the only one who can provide peace, security, and hope from the cradle to the grave and beyond.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
But he is not a God who is set in concrete – like a butterfly preserved in plastic in a museum. Before time began our Triune God was – he simply was – and then he created the world. In describing Jesus John wrote ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God’ (1:1). Later John wrote ‘And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us …’ (1:14). The Son of God in the mystery of the Incarnation changed in that he put on humanity but all because his love and grace never changed.
And today this same Jesus Christ comes to us through the power of the Holy Spirit through the Holy Scriptures and in the mystery of Baptism and Holy Communion.
Through the Word joined together with common water, bread, and wine the unchanging Jesus comes to us to lead us into ever growing individual lives. And the Word and Sacraments that proclaim God’s forgiveness in Christ through faith never changes. What a mystery! Christians therefore of all people should be those people who cope best with change and crisis precisely because Jesus is with us now. His love and care never changes.
This doesn’t mean that Christian are identical robots who act and behave exactly the same in every circumstance. No, Jesus recognizes our individuality for he has gifted us differently and we live in different relationships. Christians are identical however in that we all stand under the cross and we all are called to love. In that alone Christians should be the same the world over as we each follow Jesus’ footsteps everyday.
Each day something may happen and our lives will never be the same again. Yet amid all this swirling dizzying frightening life stands Jesus Christ who will never abandon you for his love for you has taken him to hell and back. Through his Word and Sacraments Jesus keeps coming to you and He says: Don’t be afraid. I am with you always!
- Hebrews 13:8