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Jesus’ Family Celebration

Weekly Devotional for Preachers
Jesus’ Family Celebration
Image: Cyndi Monaghan / Getty

My Dear Shepherds,

What do you think occupied Jesus’ mind and heart after his resurrection? Surely, that must have been a time of ecstatic joy in the bonds of the Triune God, for the redemption conceived before the creation of the world had been finished.

Perhaps in that Eastertide, Jesus rejoiced with his Father with language too wonderful for our ears, but if the heartbreaking words of Psalm 22 had expressed his agony on the Cross, so also the triumphant praises that conclude that same psalm express our Messiah’s worship of his Father:

For he has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one …. (vv. 22-24)

The poor will eat and be satisfied … (vv. 25-26)

Then our King of Kings rejoiced that the kingdom of this world had become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ:

All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,

and all the families of the nations will bow down before him,

for dominion belongs to the Lord and he rules over the nations. (Ps. 22:27-28)

Under the LORD’s dominion the defiant will certainly bow to Christ because their unseen puppet masters were disarmed when he “made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.” Having lost both leaders and land they will surrender.

But what Jesus joyfully celebrates most is the innumerable procession of his glad captives, the orphans, beggars, and prodigals flocking to the Savior from the remotest parts of the earth, sinners like us who had not even been a people but who are now the people of God.

Yahweh’s covenant with Abram included the promise, “all the peoples of the earth will be blessed through you.” But neither Abram nor anyone after him could’ve imagined how God would fulfill that promise through the Cross and Resurrection. They could not imagine how many tribes and languages populated this earth, nor the multitudes hidden in the seed promise “that a people not yet created may praise the LORD” (Ps. 102:18), nor the astonishing final blessed scene, “a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and before the Lamb.”

But Jesus in his risen glory knew! His heart must have nearly burst!

Pastoral work includes acquainting our local congregations with their vast family in Christ and to help our people join in Jesus’ joy by celebrating the global reach of God’s grace. We need to tell stories of faraway churches and the testimonies of believers whose names we can hardly pronounce. We need to humbly learn from the faith, devotion, and biblical thinking of Christians whose cultures are different from ours. And we must pray for them, especially the persecuted church.

Our congregation in suburban Chicago was blessed with believers from various nations. One Sunday a readers’ theater group drew from Revelation 5, Hebrews 9, and Revelation 7 to lead us in celebrating the worldwide reach of salvation. Besides English, our readers spoke Greek, Mandarin, Indonesian, Swahili, German, Chang (from Nagaland in India), and Spanish.

Singly, then in pairs, they read in their accented English. Growing louder, they each read a line of John’s description of the great multitude in their own tongue. Finally, and suddenly, some bowed to one knee while others lifted their hands in worship. They raised their voices in all those languages at once, all understood by God: “Praise and glory and wisdom and thanks … be to our God forever and ever!” Then, in unison they shouted, “Amen!”

The room fell silent as we all caught our breath at this glory of God!

Be ye glad!

Lee Eclov recently retired after 40 years of local pastoral ministry and now focuses on ministry among pastors. He writes a weekly devotional for preachers on Preaching Today.

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