New doctrine - Mark 1:27
"And they were all amazed, insomuch that they questioned among themselves, saying, What thing is this? what new doctrine is this? for with authority commandeth he even the unclean spirits, and they do obey him."
Correctly rendered, the question is more of an exclamation; "what new or fresh teaching!". As we approach the end of 2012 and look to the year ahead, we do well to continually meditate upon the incredible earthly ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ. The people of his day had never seen anything like it! Time and again we read in the gospels that the people were 'astonished', 'amazed' or that they 'marvelled' in fact there are over 40 mentions of these 3 expressions alone. Shouldn't we ever be amazed by the life of our Saviour whilst down here upon this earth? His walk, his ways and his words, every facet was filled with power, purpose and authority. Surely testifying to that truth that here was one who is God manifest in flesh!
A new testament - 1 Cor 11:25
"After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood: this do ye, as oft as ye drink it, in remembrance of me."
There are several passages that relate the institution of the remembrance supper, and each brings out a subtle shade of meaning:
- Paul here brings out the remembrance aspect. When we gather on a Lord's Day morning, it is always to remember him, his person and his work. Sometimes we may dwell almost exclusively on his death on Calvary, or on our blessed position and our future in heaven with him, but Paul correctly reminds the believers that it is to remember him.
- Matthew in his account identifies the cup as speaking of his blood which was shed "for the remission of sins", and this too brings out another aspect. Remission means pardon, deliverance, forgiveness and all this has been made possible by the shedding of his precious blood.
- Mark says that it was "shed for many" and we should thank God daily that we are included in the many!
- Finally Luke brings a more personal meaning as his account says "shed for you" and this should move us as we hear the words of the Saviour to us personally. How it should move us to serve him and worship him with all the more dedication and fervour!
A new tomb - Matt 27:57-60
"And when Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, And laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock..."
This reference reminds us that the Saviour became despised and rejected by men, and suffered and died on the cross. However, throughout this tremendous event we as believers can rejoice in that we see God's will being carried out and fulfilled to the letter at Calvary! Nothing was done that should not have been, and all things were done that should have been. Matthew tells us that the new tomb was Joseph's own, fulfilling the prophecy found in Isaiah 53:9 "And they assigned him a grave with the wicked... yet he was with a rich man in his death" Surely here was a perfect work, finished and completed by our blessed Lord and Saviour. As we go into a new year we take heart in the fact that God's Word is perfect and endures forever, and his purposes will be fulfilled, always!
A new song - Psalm 40:3
"And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God"
Now finally as we close these thoughts my mind went to this verse in the Psalms, which reminds me of the daily occupation of worship and the joy that should be ours as we consider our Saviour and offer praises to God.
David, the sweet psalmist of Israel tells us 3 important things about the new song:
- It is FROM God - He has given us this new or fresh song, and has put it into our mouths.
- It is ABOUT God - the subject and character of the new song is spiritual, as the word song here means a psalm or a hymn and it is described as praise unto God.
- It is TO God - He is the object and recipient of the praise!
What a lovely thought as we celebrate the beginning of a new year - To be found meditating upon the person of Christ and occupying ourselves with the praise and worship of God! We have been given a new song when we came to know him as Lord and Saviour, so let us live with this in mind for 2013!
May God richly bless his people everywhere and may we all be encouraged and strengthened in our testimony, both collectively and as individuals.
Yours in Christ, Mark