In the Old Testament, high feast days in Jerusalem were an incredible event. Three times a year, Israelites from across the land journeyed to the temple in Zion to take part in the feast days. It was the most religious thing the people could do. The priests likened it to “coming near to the face of God,” or “drawing nigh to the Lord.”
“There was a wedding at Cana in Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Jesus also was invited to the wedding with his disciples. When the wine ran out, the mother of Jesus said to him, ‘They have no wine.’ And Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, what does this have to do with me? My hour has not yet come.’ His mother said to the servants, ‘Do whatever he tells you’” (John 2:1-5).
I believe it has never been more important for the church and the world to know the real Jesus. By “the real Jesus” I mean the only source able to satisfy every human need and longing, every desire to be loved, known and accepted, every hope to have a life of value, worth and purpose.
These things aren’t found in the world. Our culture is fully focused on American Idol-type fame, telling us we’ll be satisfied by money or good looks or popularity. We know differently as lovers of God—that our deepest desires can’t be satisfied by anything but Christ.
When the Lord came to earth to dwell among us, he had a very specific purpose, one that was formed prior to the foundations of the world. Born in Bethlehem, Jesus came with the mission to teach us of the Father, to do mighty works, to rescue us from sin and to free us from all bondage.
That kind of Savior would naturally draw the attention of this world’s ruling powers. Despite all the deadly obstacles thrown at him by man and by Satan, Jesus was able to accomplish his purpose. We see this dark opposition at the very outset of his story:
"Whosoever therefore shall confess me before men, him will I confess also before my Father which is in heaven. But whosoever shall deny me before men, him will I also deny before my Father which is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
What does it mean to confess or deny Christ before men? The Greek word for confess here means “covenant” or “assent.” Jesus is speaking of an agreement we have with him. Our part is to confess, or represent, him in our daily lives. We do this by trusting in his promises to care for us and by testifying of it through how we live.
We all know what it’s like to be confused. And for those who follow Jesus, confusion can be very bewildering. We’re taught that our lives are to be guided by the Lord’s clear voice, through his Word and the indwelling presence of his Holy Spirit. So when confusion sets in we begin to wonder about God’s guidance in our lives.
I am convinced there is a hunger throughout the world for the uncompromised grace of Christ. Scripture attests to this hunger. Luke writes that when Jesus preached the Sermon on the Mount, crowds of thousands “had come to hear him and to be healed of their diseases; and those troubled by evil spirits were healed” (Luke 6:18, NLT). These masses came because they had heard a rumor about a man of grace who would heal them.
This message is for anyone carrying a need right now. It is especially for those who have been afraid to express their need. In fifty-eight years of preaching around the world, I have learned that often people carrying the deepest needs can put on a front. On the outside it looks as if everything is okay in their lives, but inside they feel like death.
Lately I haven’t been able to shake a certain image from my mind. It’s of a heavenly bank, where God’s people come to make transactions. This bank is always open for us to make deposits, passing to the teller all our sins, anxieties, worries and cares. Of course, the vault where those deposits are taken is the throne room of God’s grace.
In Scripture, the word tabernacle speaks of a place where God resides. It is his home on earth where his glorious presence dwells. Through the centuries, God visited his people and made his presence known to them, but he didn’t have a tabernacle where his presence could dwell on the earth.
Noah heard God’s voice, but the Lord didn’t dwell daily with him. Abraham spent his days looking for the city whose builder and maker is God. Jacob was visited by God, but only on occasion. He didn’t know God’s presence dwelling in his midst daily.