“If I preach the gospel, this gives me no ground for boasting” (1 Cor. 9:16). Who am I? I did not make the gospel. Rather, “an obligation is laid on me and woe to me if I do not proclaim it!” I take it to the Jews, and to those outside the law, and to the weak; and since Jew and Gentile are equally weak, I mean to say that I take the gospel “to all people” (1 Cor. 9:22). The gospel is Jesus Christ our Lord, and I am determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and him crucified (1 Cor. 2:2), and raised, and ascended, and poured out in Spirit and fire. Who is he? Whom do I proclaim? A voice speaks: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him not one thing came into being” (John 1:1-3).
He is the Ancient of Days, a very old Jesus. “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether throne or dominions or rulers or powers — all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Col. 1:15-17). And yet it may seem — no, it is clear — that all things fall apart. Nature trembles and humans fall; nature strikes and human depravity grows. Thus an old Jesus keeps working: “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col. 1:19-20). He, through whom all things were made, has come to glue the broken pieces with the paste of his blood.
I did not make the gospel. “I am entrusted with a commission,” and that commission includes announcing that there was never a time when the Son was not. So, I see Jesus everywhere, hear him, touch him, and know him in the fabric of what he has made. “It is he who sits above the circle of the earth, … who stretches out the heavens like a curtain, like a tent to live in; … ‘Lift up your eyes on high and see!’” (Isa. 40:22-26). The Word dots the firmament and names the hosts. And yet, in pure love, this same Word comes to the faint, the powerless, and the exhausted (Isa. 40:29-31). He comes, it seems, down to the circle of Earth, but assuredly he comes into human lives. He takes up the weak, and makes them “mount up with wings like eagles” (Isa. 40:31). They run and do not fall, walk and do not faint. They are filled with the fullness of grace upon grace.
I have been asked to tell you how the mighty God comes down. “He came and took her by the hand and lifted her up” (Mark 1:31). He — that is, Jesus. Having healed Simon’s mother-in-law, he took the balm of his goodness to the whole city, healing every disease, casting out every demon (Mark 1:32-34). His work, however, is largely hidden. He hears in secret. He works in secret. “His understanding is unsearchable” (Isa. 40:28). Thus, for now and until the close of the age, God will be God in those who as yet are weak and frail. Jesus is and will be resurrection not after our death but in our death.
Look It Up
Read Ps. 147:3-4.
Think About It
High and low.