Mankind had to be reminded and shown the original image and likeness from which he fell after the sinful act of disobedience to God’s only command. To do this who else but the Son of God had to become man and with this then complete the other aspect of restoration of man to God by paying in full the price of redemption through His own death on the cross. The relationship of man with God was finally fully restored through the pouring out of the Holy Spirit into man and the process of sanctification of believers and the steady work of transformation commenced. This change helps us imbibe the traits of Lord Jesus to live like Him and in this other believers and the Holy Spirit get actively involved.
Real meaning of God becoming Man – God created man in His image and likeness and this likeness was distorted after man’s disobedience (Genesis 1:26-27). Man acquired a new nature where animalistic instincts started playing predominant role and spiritual aspects got sidelined and man was then removed from God’s presence in the Garden of Eden. God created everything through the power of His Word and His Spirit and man having been created in His ‘image and likeness’ was also empowered as such. On seeing Eve, Adam claimed her to be ‘now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh’ and man was supposed to be joined to his wife and ‘become one flesh’ (Genesis 2:23-24).
All this changed after the sin of disobedience and Adam blamed Eve for having given him the fruit to eat and she in turn blamed the serpent for having deceived her. The moral degradation of shifting of responsibility started and thereafter the downward slide kept on. God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses on Mount Sinai and the people ‘witnessed the thundering, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking’ (Exodus 20:18-20). The Israelites were filled with such fear that they asked Moses to speak to God and they would listen to him ‘but let not God speak with us lest we die’.
The first part of the Ten Commandments is about God and the rest are to guide mankind about the right rules for living on the earth and about interpersonal relations. The sinful man could never fathom God and His Divine loving nature and instead of getting closer to Him started hiding from the All-Knowing God but with the aim of reaching Him with his own efforts and his own terms. The effort of people to ‘build a city, and a tower whose top is in the heavens’ to let us make a name for ourselves, was one such attempt to reach God. But God did not abandon man and His eyes were and are always on His people and Moses was told by God about this before sending him back to Egypt. The LORD urged Moses to go back for God was aware of ‘the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows’ (Exodus 3:7). God expressed His love through creation and how much pain and anguish He must be feeling everyday seeing His people suffer.
The messages from God sent through His prophets and the law as given to Moses to lead man on a path of right living with God also failed. Therefore, ‘when the fullness of the time had come, God sent His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons’ (Galatians 4:4-5). Despite all the evil prevailing in the world, God expressed His unimaginable love for mankind by sending His Son as a Redeemer. ‘God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved’ and all past glory be restored to mankind, the glory as of the First Adam (John 3:16-17).
Coming of the Son of God into the world is about changing the mindset of mankind about God, firstly, that He is a loving and not an angry God who is out to punish mankind. Secondly, God has ‘no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from His way and live’. Thirdly, that no one can ever please God with his ‘good deeds’ for the sinful nature of man ensures that the evil in him far outweighs the good. God’s act of resting on the seventh day and sanctifying it, is the expression of His desire for man to find rest in His finished work. His Son suffered for our sins and died on the cross that we find rest in Him from our labor of seeking and reaching God in our own merits. Fourthly, He did not come to conquer the world but to lead His ‘lost sheep’ back into His pen, to God the Father and He came as a caring and loving Shepherd to serve His sheep, to give and not to take. Finally, God even declared the name of His Son through angel Gabriel as ‘Yeshua’ which bears testimony of His work and purpose of coming. The word comprises of two parts, ‘Ya’ for short of YHWH the name of God as declared by God to Moses (Exodus 3:14) and ‘yasha’ meaning ‘rescue, deliver or save’.
Lord Jesus’ second coming will be as ‘KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS’ which name will be written on His thigh (Revelation 19:19 and 12). But He wears many crowns on His head and He has a ‘name written that no one knew except Himself’ for the name represents His complete role which no one except the Holy Trinity knows. He is ‘the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last’ for He is the Creator, Redeemer and ultimate Ruler of the universe (Revelation 1:11). God has ‘highly exalted His Son and given Him the name (role) which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth’ (Philippians 2:9-10).
Apostle Paul’s labour pains for believes – He was the messenger of Lord Jesus to the Gentiles and founder of churches in many regions including Galatia. The believers were being led astray by false teachings of Judaizers, who preached circumcision and following of the Law of Moses to receive salvation besides faith. Apostle Paul defined his labor, as the labor of a woman to give birth to a child, to form the real image of Lord Jesus in the believers (Galatians 4:19). During Old Testament times medical facilities being primitive and not as well advanced, birth of a child after completion of pregnancy and the well being of mother and child was considered a miracle.
Elijah the Tishbite declared no rain or dew ‘except at my word’ and the heavens were sealed for the declaration was in the name of the LORD(1 Kings 17). After defeat and killing of the prophets of Baal by the Israelites and leading them back to the LORD God, Elijah went up to the top of Mount Carmel, ‘bowed down on the ground, and put his face between his knees’.( 1 Kings 18:41-46). But why did he adopt such an unusual posture for prayer? A woman in labor was required to squat and push and keep pushing to deliver a child and complete the miracle. His servant was sent up to look toward the sea and on the seventh time only he saw and informed about a cloud ‘as small as a man’s hand arising out of the sea’. This turned the whole sky ‘black with clouds and wind, and there was a heavy rain’. A small cloud of blessing that has come into your life is the onset of a great rain of blessings and receive that as such.
Lord Jesus being believed and received as a Savior by the believer is his/her new birth and akin to a miracle and every evangelist labors for that in his prayers and efforts. The disciples were commanded by Lord Jesus to preach ‘repentance and remission of sins in His name to all nations. But then He cautioned them to wait for fulfillment of ‘the Promise of My Father upon you’ and ‘tarry in the city of Jerusalem until you are endued with power from on high’ (Luke 24:47-49). Lord Jesus blessed the efforts of the disciples to reach out with the message of the Gospel to others by ‘confirming the word through the accompanying signs’ (Mark 16:20). When people were working on erecting the tower of Babel God declared, ‘Indeed the people are one and they all have one language, and this is what they begin to do; now nothing that they propose to do will be withheld from them’ (Genesis 11:6).
Apostle Paul’s labor to ‘form Christ Jesus’ in the believers is hard work to bring them in accord with the true message of the Gospel and with each other for only then would they be able to do the works that the Lord did and even greater works that that. This labor is like labor of a woman to bring about the miracle of birth of a child.
Expected changes in a believer’s life – The first message of John the Baptist was, ‘Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ (Matthew 3:2). Lord Jesus also preached the same first message (Matthew 4:17-19). Repent is understood to mean turn from evil and turn to God and taken as a warning ‘or else’ and gives the impression is of an angry God warning people about change or otherwise be prepared to go into hell. Greek word ‘metanoeo’ translated as repent, has two words, ‘meta’ is to ‘change’ and ‘noeo’ meaning ‘mind or think’ thus meaning to ‘think differently afterwards or change of mind afterwards’. The message in both cases is to think differently after this realization of the kingdom of heaven being at hand. After calling Simon and his brother Andrew, Lord Jesus made them a promise, ‘I will make you fishers of men’. The call to follow is an invitation to join Him in His work.
But why does He want to change them into this new state of mind? – Lord Jesus preached to the disciples, ‘Kingdom of God does not come with observation’ but that the ‘kingdom of God is within you’ (Luke 17:20-21). The kingdom for which work He calls is within the believer and not visibly outside. If it is within me then something within me must change with this new kingdom in me and this is the change that repentance is about.
After identifying Lord Jesus as the Word that was with God and is God, light of men in whom there is life, whom darkness did not overcome, the True Light, the Creator of the world, he reveals the new identity of every believer (John 1:12), of those who receive Him and believe in His name. Since name reveals the identity of an individual this faith must be in His identity.
First change is in thinking is about God – God is love and loves me despite my past and is willing to listen to me. All that I do to please Him is therefore unnecessary. God has stored up great blessings for those who fear or revere Him and shall hide him in His secret place to protect from evil men (Psalm 31:19-20). ‘Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart’s of man, the things which God has stored up for those who love Him’ (1 Corinthians 2:9). It is easy to love someone who loves us rather than the one who is always angry. The command to ‘love God with all your mind, heart and soul and might’, mind is about thoughts that I can change by dwelling on God’s word and His promises (Deuteronomy 6:5). Heart is about reaction to an input and that is different in everyone as given by God and we ask Him to help change. God has promised ‘I will put My laws in their hearts and I in their minds I will write them’ (Hebrews 10:16). We must seek His help to love Him also.
Second change is about your thinking about yourself – The kingdom of God is within me and I am of a ‘chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light’ (1 Peter 2:9-10). You are ‘the people of God’ and we as children are heirs of God but since His Son is also His heir and we become joint heirs with Him (Romans 8:17). We have an inheritance through faith, but what good is that if I am suffering now? Lion is the king of the jungle but who taught him that, for he inherited that mentality in himself and walks and behaves as the king despite his size and strength being much less than some other beasts. Are we living as the children of God?
Third, Love yourself for what you are, for God does – When I love myself, it is easy for me to care for myself, my body and my whole being. Then I control my desires to eat and all else for I want to present myself to God everyday in a better or a stable state than yesterday. Then it is easy for me to find time for expressing my gratitude to God for all that He has given and withheld. Prayer and worship is then easy.
Fourth, change your thinking about others – Then all are seen by me as His sheep (John 10:16) though they are not yet in His pen and then I put in my extra efforts to win them over to the kingdom. Then no one is my enemy for God does not consider anyone as His enemy.
God desires an attitude change and as Apostle Paul says I must ‘rejoice always, pray without ceasing (be in conversation with God at all times) in everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you’ (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18). May the Lord bless each and every one of us and strengthen us to change and glorify His name everyday of our lives.This is Christmas for every believer otherwise we have not fully received Him as yet in our lives and our faith is still weak
Receiving Lord Jesus as the Lord of our lives is about living under His Sovereign control and in obedience to His will. Our attitude and behavior automatically starts changing the moment we do this, for then the full power of the Holy Spirit in us starts working towards our transformation. God, in His love for us, sacrificed His own Son on the cross to get us free from the clutches of the devil and his forces of darkness. If we do not receive Him, what good will this do to us?