To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood and made us a kingdom, priests to his God and Father, to him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen
When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last, and the living one. I died, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys to death and Hades.” (Revelation 1:5-6, 17-18)
“Fear not.” Beautiful words with which to begin a new year.
Reading the first chapter of Revelation today, I took note of Jesus’ words: Fear not. I love these two words, because at one time in my life fear had a strong hold on me. For this reason, I love whenever I find Jesus or an angel of God telling people not to be afraid.
These particular passages remind me on this first day of a new year that I do not have to be afraid. An unknown year stretches ahead of me. Events will arise that I cannot foresee and have no control over. People I love will face difficult times. I myself might. But I have nothing to fear.
Why not? Because Jesus, my Savior, the Messiah of Israel and King of the Kingdom of God, has done great things for me. He has done great things for you. Let’s draw near and see.
First, he loves me! He loves you. His first and every impulse toward us is love. His desire for us is for our well-being and our blessing.
I can trust his heart toward me. I will not be afraid.
Second, he has freed us from our sins. This is more than forgiveness — although he has done that, too. He has provided forgiveness for our sins, taken away our guilt, but more than that he has freed us from slavery to sin. Because of him we can live good and godly lives.
He enables me to live in victory and freedom. I will not be afraid.
He also has made his followers into a kingdom. Jesus has made a people of us. He has brought the Kingdom of God to earth and invited us into it. He has formed us who were not a people into his people, his kingdom, one over which he reigns.
I am a citizen in his kingdom. I will not be afraid.
And lastly in this passage, he has made us to be priests to God. I had to look into this a bit. But I found (here) that priests’ duties in the Bible were to serve as mediators of God’s presence. Priests made offering and sacrifices before God on behalf of the people, mediating man to God. They also mediated God to man by carrying the word of God to people through teaching the law, discerning his will, and pronouncing blessings. And now Jesus has made us to be priests. He has given us the privilege of this holy commission. We are called to be mediators of God’s presence. We are called to minister offerings of worship to God and to carry his ways and blessings to others.
I am chosen as a priest of God. I will not be afraid.
To top all this off, he lives. Forevermore. These weren’t just deeds he accomplished long ago and then stepped aside. No, he lives — continuing forevermore all he began — continuing to love us, free us, include us as citizens in his kingdom, and allow me to minister to God. He isn’t going anywhere.
And finally, this Savior who loves me and cares for me and provides a people, a place, and a calling for me, also holds the keys to death and Hades. In his death and resurrection, he has defeated and is now master over them. With him I am safe — forevermore.
My Savior lives forevermore as victor over hell and death. I will not be afraid.
What about you? Are you anxious about this new year? Are you fearful for yourself, your family, your community, or your country? If so, draw near this living One who loves you. Get to know him better. Ask him to lay his hand on you and speak his peace into you. And step into the new year with no fear. Listen to him say to you,