Day 266

What Difference Does Jesus Make?

Wisdom Psalm 110:1-7
New Testament Ephesians 2:1-22
Old Testament Isaiah 55:1-57:13

Introduction

I have interviewed hundreds of people around the world who have come to faith in Jesus. The question I ask over and over again is, ‘What difference has Jesus made?’ and the genuine answers given by the people I have quoted are typical.

  • ‘My life has completely changed. I now look at the world through different eyes... I feel love for everyone and an inner peace that I never imagined could exist.’
  • ‘I had been living my life in a dark hole, I was carrying a great weight on my shoulders... that burden has gone... and I am filled with great hope, joy, excitement and love, and all I want to do is to serve Christ in whatever form he chooses.’
  • ‘I feel like I have found love and conquered death in one day.’

The difference Jesus makes is massive, eternal, and impossible to fully comprehend.

Wisdom

Psalm 110:1-7

Psalm 110

Of David. A psalm.

1 The Lord says to my lord:

“Sit at my right hand
   until I make your enemies
   a footstool for your feet.”

2 The Lord will extend your mighty scepter from Zion, saying,
   “Rule in the midst of your enemies!”
3 Your troops will be willing
   on your day of battle.
Arrayed in holy splendour,
   your young men will come to you
   like dew from the morning’s womb.

4 The Lord has sworn
   and will not change his mind:
“You are a priest forever,
   in the order of Melchizedek. ”

5 The Lord is at your right hand;
   he will crush kings on the day of his wrath.
6 He will judge the nations, heaping up the dead
   and crushing the rulers of the whole earth.
7 He will drink from a brook along the way,
   and so he will lift his head high.

Commentary

Permanent forgiveness

Jesus made forgiveness possible through his one perfect sacrifice for our sins. He was uniquely qualified to do so as the ‘King of kings’ and ‘Great High Priest’.

Jesus clearly saw this royal psalm of David as referring to himself (v.1, see Matthew 22:42–45; Luke 20:42–44). It is one of the most frequently quoted in the New Testament. Two lines of Old Testament prophecy come together in this psalm.

  1. King of kings

    Although it is about a human king, it points forward to a divine King who will be King over all kings (Psalm 110:5).

  2. Great High Priest

    The writer of Hebrews quotes this psalm as referring to Jesus (see Hebrews 7:17–22) as the one who is the priest for ever in the order of Melchizedek (Psalm 110:4). Neither Melchizedek nor Jesus were Levites. But both were priests – not on the basis of their ancestry, but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life (Hebrews 7:16).

    Whereas the Old Testament priests were temporary, Jesus’ priesthood is permanent: ‘He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself (v.27). ‘You’re the permanent priest’ (Psalm 110:4, MSG).

Prayer

King Jesus, thank you that you made the one perfect sacrifice for my sins so that I can be forgiven, and my life can be utterly transformed.

New Testament

Ephesians 2:1-22

Made Alive in Christ

2 As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, 2 in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. 3 All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. 4 But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, 5 made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions —it is by grace you have been saved. 6 And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, 7 in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. 8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith —and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9 not by works, so that no one can boast. 10 For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

Jew and Gentile Reconciled Through Christ

11 Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands) — 12 remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. 13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two groups one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by setting aside in his flesh the law with its commands and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new humanity out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in one body to reconcile both of them to God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit.

19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.

Commentary

Peace and reconciliation

‘Peace’ is a word that sums up all the blessings Jesus brings to our lives. Christ came and preached the possibility of ‘peace’ to everyone (v.17).

Jesus is seated, after his resurrection, at the right hand of God, as prophesied in the psalm for today (Psalm 110:1). Being seated implies rest and peace. You died with Christ, were buried with him and have been raised with him and are now seated with him in the heavenly realms (Ephesians 2:6). You can enjoy his peace and rest as you go about your daily life.

Paul describes life without Christ in these terms. You were:

  • ‘dead in your transgressions and sins’ (v.1)
  • following ‘the ways of the world’ (v.2)
  • ‘gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature and following its desires and thoughts’ (v.3a)
  • ‘objects of wrath’ (v.3b)
  • ‘separate from Christ’ (v.12a)
  • ‘outsiders to God’s ways’ (v.11, MSG)
  • ‘foreigners to the covenants of the promise’ (v.12b)
  • ‘without hope’ (v.12c)
  • ‘without God in the world’ (v.12c)
  • ‘far away’ (v.13)
  • separated by the ‘dividing wall of hostility’ (v.14b)
  • ‘strangers or outsiders’ (v.19, MSG).

Paul describes the difference that Jesus makes in these contrasting terms. You are:

  • ‘raised up with Christ’ (v.6)
  • ‘seated with him in the heavenly realms’ (v.6)
  • ‘God’s masterpiece’ (v.10, NLT)
  • ‘created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do’ (v.10)
  • ‘brought near through the blood of Christ’ (v.13)
  • ‘reconciled to God through the cross’ (v.16)
  • ‘fellow-citizens with God’s people’ (v.19)
  • ‘members of God’s household’ (v.19)
  • ‘a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit’ (v.22).

The contrast between the prior alienation – from yourself and from God – and the peace and reconciliation that Jesus brings, could not be greater. It is Jesus who makes the difference. You are made alive with Christ (v.5). You are raised up with Christ (v.6). You are saved through faith in Christ (v.8). It is in Christ Jesus that you are brought near (v.13). It is through Jesus that you have access to the Father by one Spirit (v.18). Jesus Christ himself is the chief cornerstone of the new temple, the church.

The only command that Paul gives here is to ‘remember’ (vv.12–13). So often we can forget that being a Christian is all about what Jesus has done for us and get caught up in what we are doing. This passage helps you to stop, remember, and give thanks to your amazing saviour for all he has done for you.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for your great love for me. Thank you for the utter transformation you bring to my life.

Old Testament

Isaiah 55:1-57:13

Invitation to the Thirsty

55 “Come, all you who are thirsty,
   come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
   come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
   without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
   and your labour on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
   and you will delight in the richest of fare.
3 Give ear and come to me;
   listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
   my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
   a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
   and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
   the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendour.”

6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
   call on him while he is near.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
   and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
   and to our God, for he will freely pardon.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
   neither are your ways my ways,”
   declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
   so are my ways higher than your ways
   and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
   and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
   will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
   will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
   and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
   for an everlasting sign,
   that will endure forever.”

Salvation for Others

56 This is what the Lord says:

“Maintain justice
   and do what is right,
for my salvation is close at hand
   and my righteousness will soon be revealed.
2 Blessed is the one who does this—
   the person who holds it fast,
who keeps the Sabbath without desecrating it,
   and keeps their hands from doing any evil.”

3 Let no foreigner who is bound to the Lord say,
   “The Lord will surely exclude me from his people.”
And let no eunuch complain,
   “I am only a dry tree.”

4 For this is what the Lord says:

“To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
   who choose what pleases me
   and hold fast to my covenant —
5 to them I will give within my temple and its walls
   a memorial and a name
   better than sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name
   that will endure forever.
6 And foreigners who bind themselves to the Lord
   to minister to him,
to love the name of the Lord,
   and to be his servants,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
   and who hold fast to my covenant—
7 these I will bring to my holy mountain
   and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
   will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
   a house of prayer for all nations.’ 8 The Sovereign Lord declares—
   he who gathers the exiles of Israel:
“I will gather still others to them
   besides those already gathered.”

God’s Accusation Against the Wicked

9 Come, all you beasts of the field,
   come and devour, all you beasts of the forest!
10 Israel’s watchmen are blind,
   they all lack knowledge;
they are all mute dogs,
   they cannot bark;
they lie around and dream,
   they love to sleep.
11 They are dogs with mighty appetites;
   they never have enough.
They are shepherds who lack understanding;
   they all turn to their own way,
   they seek their own gain.
12 “Come,” each one cries, “let me get wine!
   Let us drink our fill of beer!
And tomorrow will be like today,
   or even far better.”

57 The righteous perish,
   and no one takes it to heart;
the devout are taken away,
   and no one understands
that the righteous are taken away
   to be spared from evil.
2 Those who walk uprightly
   enter into peace;
   they find rest as they lie in death.

3 “But you—come here, you children of a sorceress,
   you offspring of adulterers and prostitutes!
4 Who are you mocking?
   At whom do you sneer
   and stick out your tongue?
Are you not a brood of rebels,
   the offspring of liars?
5 You burn with lust among the oaks
   and under every spreading tree;
you sacrifice your children in the ravines
   and under the overhanging crags.
6 The idols among the smooth stones of the ravines are your portion;
   indeed, they are your lot.
Yes, to them you have poured out drink offerings
   and offered grain offerings.
In view of all this, should I relent?
7 You have made your bed on a high and lofty hill;
   there you went up to offer your sacrifices.
8 Behind your doors and your doorposts
   you have put your pagan symbols.
Forsaking me, you uncovered your bed,
   you climbed into it and opened it wide;
you made a pact with those whose beds you love,
   and you looked with lust on their naked bodies.
9 You went to Molek with olive oil
   and increased your perfumes.
You sent your ambassadors far away;
   you descended to the very realm of the dead!
10 You wearied yourself by such going about,
   but you would not say, ‘It is hopeless.’
You found renewal of your strength,
   and so you did not faint.

11 “Whom have you so dreaded and feared
   that you have not been true to me,
and have neither remembered me
   nor taken this to heart?
Is it not because I have long been silent
   that you do not fear me?
12 I will expose your righteousness and your works,
   and they will not benefit you.
13 When you cry out for help,
   let your collection of idols save you!
The wind will carry all of them off,
   a mere breath will blow them away.
But whoever takes refuge in me
   will inherit the land
   and possess my holy mountain.”

Commentary

Purpose and meaning

The Bible is one long invitation to come to God. It starts with God’s call to Adam, full of love and anguish, ‘Where are you?’ (Genesis 3:9). It ends with the invitation from the Spirit and the Bride who say, ‘Come!’ (Revelation 22:17).

Jesus often invited people: ‘Come to me’ (Matthew 11:28), ‘Come to the wedding banquet’ (22:4), ‘Come to me and drink’ (John 7:37). In this chapter, God once again issues an invitation to come.

‘Hey there! All who are thirsty,
|| come to the water!
Are you penniless?
|| Come anyway – buy and eat!
Come, buy your drinks, buy wine and milk.
|| Buy without money – everything’s free!’ (Isaiah 55:1, MSG).

The invitation is urgent and universal. The New Testament sees it as Jesus’ invitation to us (see Acts 13:34–35). Here are four reasons why you should come to him:

  1. Jesus alone can satisfy the hunger in your heart

    Without Jesus we are thirsty (Isaiah 55:1). We labour for what does not satisfy (v.2). The opening verses echo the cries of those selling their wares in Babylon, the centre of commerce in the ancient world. The message is this: material things do not satisfy. Without God we are always partly empty, experiencing a lack of fulfilment and a feeling of dissatisfaction.

    The offer of Jesus is free. It is to ‘you who have no money’ (v.1). The promise is that as you come to Jesus ‘your soul will delight in the richest of fare… your soul will live’ (vv.2–3). Those who come to him are deeply satisfied. God does not offer you junk food, but a feast. His words are ‘life-giving’ and ‘life-nourishing’ (v.2, MSG).

  2. Jesus’ love and mercy is great

    Repentance is necessary in order to enjoy God’s presence fully (vv.6–9). Turn away from sin: ‘Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts’ (v.7a). I like the child’s definition of repentance: ‘being sorry enough to stop’.

    Repentance also involves turning to God: ‘Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon’ (v.7b). No matter how far you have fallen, God will forgive you. He is ‘lavish with forgiveness’ (v.7, MSG).

  3. Jesus is the life transformer

    ‘You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands. Instead of the thorn bush will grow the pine tree, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow’ (vv.12–13).

    The immediate application of this passage was to the departure of the Jews from Babylon. Israel was to ‘go out’ from Babylon and go back to Jerusalem in ‘joy’ and ‘peace’.

    However, the prophecy will not reach complete fulfilment until the return of Jesus Christ. Then, nature itself will be renewed and restored. You get a foretaste of this now, in this life, but the ultimate fulfilment of these verses will come when Jesus returns, in the new heaven and new earth.

    The Bible is not only the story of the human race, but is the story of the whole of creation in which the human race plays a central and crucial role.

  4. Jesus has a purpose for your life

    God’s blessings were never intended to be enjoyed selfishly (vv.3b–5). They were to overflow to others. You can’t offer to others what you have not received yourself. But when you have enjoyed a blessing, pass it on.

    As Paul puts it in today’s New Testament passage, you are ‘God’s masterpiece’. He created you anew in Christ Jesus so that you can do the good works he planned for you long ago (see Ephesians 2:10, NLT). Your life has a purpose. Your story is important. Your dreams count. Your voice matters. You were born to make an impact.

Prayer

Lord, thank you that you invite me to come to you to drink the water of life. Thank you for the massive difference you make to my life, both now and into eternity.

Pippa adds

Ephesians 2:10

‘For we are God's workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for us to do.’

One of the reasons we were created is to do good works. I wonder what God has 'prepared in advance' for me to do today.

Verse of the Day

Ephesians 2:10, NLT

‘You are God’s masterpiece’
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References

The One Year® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers. Used by permission.

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

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