But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility.
Sometimes Jesus gets treated like He’s Santa Claus. If we’re good boys and girls, and stay off the naughty list, we’ll get gifts. The better we are, the better the gifts. There is a false, religious version of Jesus, the celestial benefactor with a bag full of blessings and gifts to offer the best, brightest, and most pious among us. No, maybe you don’t see Jesus quite to this caricature, but is it possible that you see Jesus primarily as the giver of rewards and blessings?
While Jesus does give good gifts, what if there is more? What if Jesus wasn’t just the giver of gifts, but THE gift Himself? What if we could see Jesus, not just as the one who rewards His children, but as THE reward. What if we experienced Jesus as the Prince of Peace, who offers Himself to us?
The Psalmist Asaph wrote, “My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” (Psalm 73:26) Asaph is telling us that God doesn’t just offer us a side of strength to go with our daily bread, but that He is the strength.
Jesus offers us a better vision than “your best life” or “favor” found in getting the job you want, the relationship you desire, or the new, bigger and better house. All of those things eventually fade. They lose their luster. They are good things, but not ultimately satisfying or joy sustaining. The offer of the Gospel is that by faith, we get Jesus, and discover that Jesus is more than enough. Union with Jesus is the best gift. Jesus, Emmanuel – is our greatest reward. Jesus is more than just the giver of good gifts – He is the gift!
This is liberating. It frees you and me to live like Moses, who “choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin. He considered the reproach of Christ greater wealth than the treasures of Egypt, for he was looking to the reward.” (Hebrews 11:25-26)
What was his reward? The writer of Hebrews explains in the next few verses: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)
The reward is Jesus!
Further Reading: Colossians 1
Reflection: Take 5 minutes to breathe in deeply and simply savor that Jesus loves you. He cares for you. He wants to be with you. Enjoy the gift of Jesus this season.