“The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16)
Christmas is here, a time to celebrate the advent of Jesus, and it is an act of faith to rejoice in the gift of God to us. Today's verse, Matthew 4:16, quotes Isaiah 9:2, a Scripture pointing to the Messiah, the Christ, who saves us from our sins, from ourselves. It is infinitely good news that God Almighty left His place in glory, became part of humanity, grew up like all of us, but He is infinitely more. He is our Everlasting King, Savior, Teacher, Healer, High Priest and Lord. He, the King of Glory, died for our sins, and as the Representative of humanity before God the Father, He became the Perfect Sacrifice, our Substitute, who gave His life so we might be forgiven and delight in Him—forever.
At a prayer meeting a few mornings ago, one of the men quoted the words of Psalm 51, including—“Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!...Against You, You only, have I sinned and done what is evil in Your sight… purge me… wash me and I shall be clean… Hide Your face from my sins, and blot out all my iniquities. Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me…” Those are words we can personally offer to the Lord in prayer, for “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). As that Psalm unfolded during our time of prayer, I glimpsed Jesus’ act in dying for you and me. He took on the limitations of humanity, but always was and is God. David was the man who wrote Psalm 51, but this is Scripture, which is deeper, more complete than just the experiences of the writers. Clement of Rome, in the first century AD, wrote: “The Scriptures are the true utterances of the Holy Spirit” (Epis. 1.45). Paul the Apostle observed, “Everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). Paul also wrote, “All Scripture is given by inspiration of God,” literally in the original language: “God BREATHED Scripture” (2 Timothy 3:16). The Lord Jesus said, “The Scriptures… are they which testify of Me” (John 5:39). When David uttered the words of Psalm 51, he was confessing his own sin, and we do well to confess because we are all sinners. But the words are also Scripture—David was “a prophet” (Acts 2:29-31) who looked into the future and glimpsed the Messiah, the Christ, who would faithfully pray for us and die for our sins. Jesus Christ did the work of salvation—our part is to trust in Him and what He has done. He is giving us the capacity to trust in Him who is greater than all our problems.
Jesus Christ fulfilled Scripture. The words of Psalm 51 are David’s words and also the Word of God, uttered for us all. They are prophecy, revealing something of what Jesus would do, what He DID for us on the cross. As God, He was not limited like we are, but He also became human and vulnerable for our eternal benefit. David prophesied about Him in Psalm 22:1 that the Lord would cry out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” while dying on the cross for us, which was fulfilled in Matthew 27:46. Our sins upon Him brought isolation...the Sinless One was blinded to the Presence of God the Holy Father. But the context of Psalm 22 continues into Verse 24: “He (the Father) has not despised nor abhorred the affliction of the afflicted (Jesus), nor has He (the Father) hidden His face from Him (Jesus); but when He (Jesus) cried to Him, He (the Father) heard.” He hears you also, even when you are so blinded by the sins of this world that you do not perceive His loving response to your need. God hears and answers.
Consider that when Jesus was on the cross He was completely human and yet remained fully God. He limited Himself in some ways, and yet, as God, He remained infinite. Our sin blinded Him in ways too deep and awful for us to truly comprehend, and yet words like those in Psalm 51 were uttered within Him perfectly and completely for every human who has ever lived or will live. “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21). He presented and is presenting your sins and mine to the Father, praying in absolute faith for our forgiveness. He cries out for each one: "Father forgive them for they do not know what they do" (Luke 23:34).
Around the world there are “power grids” sending electricity from a central source to outlying consumers, governments, companies, armies and individuals. Most have gadgets like radios, lights and other items that entertain us, light our way and conform environments to our needs. We just need to plug in our appliance to an electrical socket and the lights come on. God Almighty in eternity IS the “Power Grid” behind—everything. When the Son of God came to us, He brought the power, love and light of eternity to this world. He turned on the lights. People like Abraham, Hannah, Rahab, David, Isaiah and the rest of the faithful who lived before the cross, were plugged-in by faith to the Lord who would die and rise from the dead, just as right now WE plug in by faith to the One who died and rose from the dead. This capacity for faith is a gift within us, an enabling given by the touch of God. We are not that different from the electrical appliances bought in a store. We are “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14), but must be plugged into the Power Source in order to function like we should. Jesus is “the light of the world” (John 8:12), and we become “the light of the world” (Matthew 5:14) by trusting in the Lord—plugging ourselves into Him through simple faith. He is our present Savior and our certain Hope. He turns on the lights for you and me.
Decades ago, I noted the claims of a televangelist preacher that every day he personally prayed for each of the prayer requests sent to his ministry. Years later I met someone who had worked for him, finding out that the preacher actually had the requests stacked up in a room, and when he passed by them he would say something like, “Lord, please meet these needs,” a general, not a specific request. Jesus, who is unlimited in power and in love, actually does pray exclusively for each of us, as in Romans 8:34—“It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.” On the cross He prayed for you. Every moment of each day He is making intercession for you by name and by need. We are limited to one person at a time, but He individually prays for each of us at all times as though we were the only ones who ever lived. He does it for me, He does it for you, and it is for us all. He is God.
If your situation seems hopeless, remember the One who died for you. Give some thought to Who is praying for you right this minute. He is presenting your need to the Father. We see things outwardly and are blind to the future. He comprehends you fully, better than you know yourself, and you are being prepared for a future that He knows because He is is already there, lighting your way. “The people who sat in darkness have seen a great light, and upon those who sat in the region and shadow of death, light has dawned” (Matthew 4:16). Place your faith in Him and His light dawns within you. He is praying for you. His prayers are answered.
Father, I confess my sins and I praise the One who has brought me to You. I am plugged into the power of God because my faith is in the Lord who paid the price and turned on the lights—in me. I trust in You. My hope is in You. I am Yours. In Jesus Name. Amen.