I have received full payment, and more. I am well supplied, having received from Epaphroditus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God.
What if Jesus were writing this week’s article? What might he say?
He might say in Minneapolis what he said in the wilderness, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4), adding, “You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve” (Matthew 4:10).
He might say to Bethlehem what he said to Capernaum: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 4:17).
He might say to us what he said on the mountain, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:13–16).
He might caution us to take his article very seriously, showing us that our future joy is at stake, saying, “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it” (Matthew 7:24–27).
Perhaps Jesus would say here in the land of 10,000 lakes what he once said on a lakeshore, “Take heart; your sins are forgiven” (Matthew 9:2).
Or perhaps he would say to us what he said at a dinner, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Matthew 9:12–13). The Bethlehem Star is a newsletter for sinners—many of whom are wonderfully redeemed by Jesus.
If he were writing this article, perhaps he would urge praying like along these lines: “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:37–38).
To a Twin Cities bulging with therapeutic centers, he might write about our fears. “Do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:28–30).
Under his authoritative pen, this page of the Star might become extremely Christo-centric: “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32–33), adding, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (Matthew 11:27).
While he might announce or might teach or might warn, he also might issue an invitation, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28–30).
It’s not difficult to imagine him using this page to issue some marching orders—accompanied with a phenomenal promise: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:18–20).
Reading Jesus with you,
Executive Pastor/Lead Pastor for Life Training