But thanks be to God who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ 1 Corinthians 15:57 ESV
For residents in a nursing home life can sometimes feel like a place of total defeat. You can see it in the stooped shoulders or hear it in the angry reactions to small annoyances. In our own home as we are passing through my wife’s battle with cancer I am finding myself facing the same struggles. I feel like a rowboat caught in the tidal wave of serious illness and family turmoil. That is exactly the situation which the disciples faced as the accompanied Jesus to the Garden of Gethsemane. Jesus had asked them to pray with him for one hour; but the Bible tells us that
And when He rose from prayer He came to the disciples and found them sleeping for sorrow. Luke 22:45
They were overcome by sorrow, but not their master. Jesus had prayed till His sweat fell like drops of blood. Jesus had continued interceding even when they felt defeated. In the same way He is interceding in heaven for you and I today. Neither our sorrow nor our despair will cause Him to abandon us. He will come and awaken us. He will carry our burdens. He chose in that dark garden to pay the full price for our sin to give us hope. It is that hope which lies behind the cry:
O Grave where is your victory? Death where is your sting? 1 Corinthians 15:55
That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by Esaias the prophet, saying, Himself took our infirmities, and bare our sicknesses Matthew 8:17
If we think that God is so intimately concerned with our physical needs that He has counted even the number of hairs on our head. We have a great hope that whether in this life or in the next; God will heal every disease, restore all that is broken and renew our youth like the eagles!
Whether sitting in a wheel chair in a nursing home or confined to a bed with a tracheotomy tube in order to breathe, Jesus offers the hope of complete and entire healing as one part of His promise of eternal life. That promise may be overlooked or forgotten by we who are in perfect health, yet God does not forget. The same Jesus who was moved with compassion for lepers, the blind and the lame has promised to wipe every tear from our eyes. He not only has compassion for our aches, pains and disabilities but the Bible tells us that He took all of these onto his shoulders and carried them. If we continue reading in the chapter of Isaiah that Matthew quotes we see that in the very next verse that it is by His stripes that we are healed. God is so very concerned for every one of our pains and infirmities that He allowed a whip to fall across the shoulders of Jesus. As He was wounded again and again we were being healed. Weak arms will be lifted, failing voices will sing again and deaf ears will hear the shepherd’s voice! Yes we have the hope of healing! When the temporary things of earth have passed we will stand strong and eternally young in the presence of our ageless King!
This past Christmas our youth got together to not just prepare a Christmas program for the nursing home but to also raise funds to purchase devotionals from Joni and Friends ministry for gifts. One of the highlights of our practice was spending an hour wrapping each book. Some came out better than others! Did you ever stop to wonder where we came up with the idea of gift wrapping? Isn’t the gift itself what people really want? I think it all comes down to presentation and that is something even God chose to do when he sent Jesus to that manger in Bethlehem!
but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Philippians 2:7-8
In a strange sort of way Jesus was God, gift wrapped! Before you think we are straying into some strange teaching pause to think of some reasons we have for gift wrapping. First we wrap up a gift to keep it a surprise. In that same way Jesus came to that humble stable of Bethlehem as a baby. From the outside no one could see who He was. It took angels telling the shepherds to get an audience for His birth! God came gift wrapped in humanity. The Father chose this way so that only those whose hearts were humble could know what the gift was.
Another reason for wrapping is to say. “Here I prepared this just for you!” In that same way Jesus was sent, not only for the whole world, but also for each one of us individually. Just as he sat by the well for one woman and went to the pool of Bethesda for one man, so also He gives Himself to each of us one by one.
Some of us open presents on Christmas Eve and others Christmas morning but for all of us the gifts are wrapped and sitting under the tree because it makes us wait till the right time to open them.
But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law Galatians 4:4
You might remember that God also came down on Mount Sinai during the Exodus story. But it was not the right time for the gift to be opened. People were terrified. No one could approach the mountain and Moses was only allowed to glimpse God after He had passed by and was going away. But at just the right time Jesus came, the gift was presented and we by faith could begin to unwrap the fullness of the love God in Jesus Christ.