Christ Preaches Restoration
I don’t know about you guys, but I love stories. Even the first words send shivers down my back and a curious tingle racing through my veins: “In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit…” or, “It was a bright, cold, day in April, and the clocks were striking thirteen…” or “Call me Ishamel,” or “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” or “A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away…” Clocks striking thirteen? Nice holes in the ground? Galaxies far, far away? The excitement and anticipation of what might happen next drives us to listen desperately for the next line of the story.
What about the words “In the beginning…”? And thus starts the greatest story ever told. So we learn of God. And a brand new world. A universe complete with stars and seas and trees and animals. And man. Oh, man! The pinnacle of God’s creation—a masterpiece! And God puts man in a garden, a perfect garden. Sparkling rivers, trees covered in fruit, friendly animals of every kind… all for man to enjoy.
But, like every story, something happened. Man made a choice to disobey God. And when man disobeyed God, nothing was perfect anymore. Everything was broken. Death. Disease. Darkness. Destruction.
And so the story continued. People got sick and died. Families fought and argued. Brothers killed each other. Storms and floods destroyed the earth. Our world is broken. We don’t have to look far to see that. So we create our own stories. We write stories of good and evil, but where right conquers all! We write stories with happy endings. Frodo destroys the ring, Aslan restores Narnia to its unfrozen beauty, the Autobots kick out the Decepticons, and when the story ends, we look around again and wish that we too could uproot the bad guys and live happily ever after.
But I have not finished my summary of the story. Because several thousand years after man took that forbidden bite of death-laden fruit, God offered man another chance. He sent His Son to this broken and dying earth to pay the price of death so that man could be restored to his former position as God’s masterpiece in Creation.
And so Christ brings, Christ preaches restoration.
Isaiah 61:1-3 – The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the poor; he has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn; to grant to those who mourn in Zion— to give them a beautiful headdress instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the garment of praise instead of a faint spirit; that they may be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he may be glorified.
Ezekiel 36:24-28 – I will take you from the nations and gather you from all the countries and bring you into your own land. I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules. You shall dwell in the land that I gave to your fathers, and you shall be my people, and I will be your God.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.
Revelation 21:5 – And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”
What does this mean for us? The world is still broken. We still experience brokenness and pain and hurt.
“Frodo: I can’t do this, Sam.
Sam: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.
Frodo: What are we holding onto, Sam?
Sam: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo… and it’s worth fighting for.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers
If you believe that Jesus Christ came to earth as a man and lived and died for your sin and brokenness, then you have been made new. You are in the process of being restored, where, like a deep cut that is healing, there is still pain. The scar tissue grows and tears and grows again. Sometimes new wounds are opened, only to be healed. And the evidence of our brokenness remains. We have scars. But the scars are not there as evidence of our brokenness. They are evidence of the healing work of Christ. And so we keep going. Because we have something to hold onto. We know the Creator who promises to “make all things new.” And that’s worth living (and fighting) for.