The Power of God
I came across a phrase in Matthew this week that seemed to resonate with great intensity. In addressing the Sadducees unbelief in the resurrection, Jesus said “You do not know the Scriptures and you do not know the power of God.”(Matthew 22.29) The Christmas season is now just hitting its stride and we are awash in many messages. Some messages ring hollow, the others have become repetitious. My own blindness and hard heartedness has frustrated me and I ask myself, “do you know the power of God?” My own feeble brain tries to grasp it, and fails more often than not. This indeed was Israel’s failing as well, that despite having been delivered through the sea they forgot the power of God. They questioned him, asking, why have you brought us here to this wilderness to die? We were better off in slavery…
Throughout the vibrant and terrifying book of Revelation there is a picture of the sea, a sea from which the beast of evil rises. (Revelation 4, 13) We are still dealing with the sea it would seem. Are we walking through it with our head down, oblivious to the walls of water on either side, to the wind that blows across our faces? Do we think we are drowning? There are times I feel it is so. I forget the power of God.
The stories we reread and retell every Christmas speak of Christ’s humility and obedience to God’s plan. Indeed, it is true. Jesus the Christ submitted to God’s plan to render evil powerless. To free us from the slavery. But Christ did not leave it at that. He has not abandoned us in the wilderness. He may have relinquished his throne for a time but by way of his resurrection he has taken it up again. Never to relinquish again. And he has blazed the path ahead of us. Our temporary sufferings under the burden of man’s failings, even our very own, may very well crush us. It is quite possible. But through it we must never forget the power of God. The God who reigns above the sea (Genesis 1, Revelation 4), the God who walks upon it (Matthew 14), the God who succumbed to it (Matthew 3), is the God who walks us through it. Our drowning shall not lead unto death, but shall teach us to breathe.
In reminding myself, I am calling my fellow believers to fix their eyes on the shore. Christ’s body, the one that was in appearance the same as ours, was not left in the grave. By the power of God, Christ became the firstborn. Yes, the firstborn. We who profess shall also be resurrected. The magnitude of this reality is so hard to grasp. Resurrection. I believe our hearts and minds are still labouring beneath Plato’s idea that the physical realm is bad and the spiritual is good. Our experience often seems to reflect truth in this belief after all. It is our physical bodies that keep us stumbling, that inflict us with pain, that hold us back. But this is a deception. Man was made as body and spirit. Two dimensions in one creature. We get stuck in thinking that the spirit is best and that the body is to be scorned. But we forget the power of God. God raised Christ in his body. And not only do we fail to grasp the magnitude of resurrection where spirit and body are united but also the reality that heaven and earth are meant to dwell together. For man was made in spirit and body and he was made to live on the earth. The final chapters of Scripture give us a breathtaking picture of a new heaven and a new earth, united together. Where man is no longer burdened and there is no more sea. (Revelation 21)
I think Christmas can be a rather confusing time. We continue to hear of our Prince of Peace, Emmanuel, God with us and though we have been given a taste within our spirit of this truth we know there must be more. There is a bigger ending. Christmas is only a chapter in the story, one that requires a fuller knowledge of the bigger vision God has given us in his Son. For he really is bringing joy to the world. He is now redeeming for himself a people, God’s people, who will be resurrected to reign with him in all of creation that has been made new. Do not forget the power of God.