“As soon as Jesus was baptized, he went up out of the water. At that moment heaven was opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” Matthew 3:16-17, NIV
Easter is a time to remember what God did for us – sending His Son to earth to die on the cross and allow us the chance to choose eternity in Heaven with Him or eternity in hell without Him. It’s really that simple.
He didn’t have to send Jesus to earth as a baby – God could have had Jesus come as a man, already an adult, bypassing the “growing up years.” However, I read a book this week that was talking about why God chose to have Jesus come as a baby. It is Jewish custom for a child to learn knowledge and “book learning” up until age 12, then from ages 13 through 30, he becomes an apprentice of his father’s business, learning all the tricks of the trade. At 30, if he has sufficiently obeyed and learned what was needed, he would then be given his inheritance and step into his calling. (Any mistakes about the customs are all mine.)
What did Jesus do? The Bible doesn’t talk much about his growing up years, but does mention the highlights we are supposed to pay attention to. At age 12, Jesus failed to leave Jerusalem after the Festival of the Passover with his family. When they noticed He wasn’t with them, Mary and Joseph frantically searched for Him for three days, finally finding Him in the temple. His response to them? “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?” (Luke 2:49-50, NIV).
It continues to say, “Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.” (Luke 2:51-52, NIV) In other words, Jesus followed the custom of His day and practiced obedience to His parents.
Then the Bible tells us about how when He was 30 years old, He was baptized by John the Baptist and God allowed the Holy Spirit to descend upon Him. Then He went into the desert and fasted for 40 days, being tempted by the devil before starting His ministry for three years, concluding with His death and resurrection on the cross, the ultimate goal. (Matthew 3:13-17, NIV).
In addition to learning obedience and building maturity before stepping into His ministry, Jesus also used those 33 years of His earthly life to build relationships with those around Him: Family first, then friends, disciples, the multitudes, everyone He came into contact with. Jesus didn’t waste any opportunities to build relationships.
I think that is a great reminder for us. Are we taking the time to build relationships with those around us? Those God has blessed us with to share life or those God puts in our path for only a little while? When we take the time to build authentic relationships, then when “THE Christian holiday” appears, we will have built true connections with others. They may be waiting to hear about the choice we are all given by God: Choosing a relationship and eternity with Him in Heaven or choosing to reject Jesus’ gift and spending eternity forever separated from God.
I’m not an evangelist and sharing my faith with others is difficult. But building relationships with others around me? I can do that!
It really is that simple.
Blessings to each of you this Easter weekend!
© Cheri Swalwell 2016