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In Favour With God and Man

by Robert Berendt
Photo by david Griffiths on Unsplash
 

Luke records that Jesus and His family traveled to Jerusalem each year for the Feast of the Passover. Jesus was strong in Spirit, filled with wisdom and the grace of God was upon Him as was prophesied (Isaiah 11:2). Jesus stayed behind to talk with the teachers of Israel, to listen and to ask questions to the point that they were astonished (Luke 2:46-47). It is likely that the teachers at the Temple were delighted with the demeanor, ability, intelligence and attitude of this young boy. Jesus told His parents that He needed to be about His Father’s business, but the family did not understand His words.

Jesus returned to Nazareth with His parents and continued to increase in wisdom and stature as He grew into manhood. All that time, He was “in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:5-52). We, too, are to be in favour with God and man.

When Jesus was a boy, the Passover lamb was sacrificed and prayers were made for the forgiveness of sin. Death passed over those protected by the blood of the lamb. The people ate unleavened bread to emphasize the need to remain “unleavened” or pure before God. Israel was to be a “holy people and holy nation” and the unleavened bread was symbolic of removing leaven or sin and making sure their homes and lives did not have sin present (Exodus19:6; Deuteronomy 7:6). They were to do this to be in favour with God. It is only the presence of God that makes anything holy, so God had offered His presence to the nation of Israel. Israel failed right from the beginning – even before they left Egypt.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the New Covenant was enacted. Anyone who repents and believes is eligible to become part of God’s holy people and holy nation (1 Peter 1:5, 14-16, 19; 2:9). Peter explained that Jesus Christ left us an example of how to live – that is, how to be in favour with God and man (verse 21). The Passover is meant to be a reminder of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, which makes possible the removal of sin. Our part in that recognition is to believe in Him and resist sin all year long.

For the followers of Jesus Christ today, being in favour with God requires recognition of sin and a heart-felt repentance followed by baptism which cleanses a person from all sin (1 Peter1:2). That allows God’s spirit in a person (2 Corinthians 6:16). We are to live the new life which is free of sin (Romans 6:2, 15). We remain in the grace or favour of God by the choices we make in life as we allow God as the Master Potter to fashion and mold us.

Converted people keep the Feast of the Passover every year. In our case, Christ is the Passover Lamb (1 Corinthians 5:7). We remove the leaven from our lives by remaining cleansed from sin. That means we do not sin again intentionally. If we slip and repent, Christ is there to forgive. However the cost of our salvation is so high we ought to be diligent not to slip. We are to “offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ” (1 Peter1:5).

Eating unleavened bread is commanded of us and is symbolic of our determination to fulfill our part of the Covenant. Jesus Christ was without sin and that is our goal and objective. It is attained through the mercy and love of His sacrifice and our love of God’s law, which is only possible if we also love God who is the lawgiver (1 John 3:1-10) and are empowered by Him.

Loving (being in favour with) our fellow man is part of what Jesus Christ asks of us. John noted that if we see a brother in need and simply pass by, God is not dwelling in us (1 John 3:13-18). In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus expressed the will of God in clear terms. We need to be wise as serpents and harmless as doves as we strive to love even our enemies. Matthew 5, 6 and 7 are good chapters to read as we prepare for Passover. Examining ourselves and the direction our life has taken is part of the Passover preparation exercise.

Passover is the season to focus on the all-important steps of salvation we have taken through Jesus Christ. We need to rehearse what our behaviour will be throughout the year by putting special emphasis on our actions during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. Our human minds need annual reminders of what we are to be and do. God has provided the way for this reminder by giving us the annual Passover and Holy Days. Let us rejoice as we renew our thought patterns by drawing near to the Father and Son so that we remain pleasing to them for the whole year.

We are called to be ambassadors for the family and Kingdom of God. We can only be ambassadors if we fully understand and support the beliefs of that Kingdom. The Passover season is designed to assist us in renewing and refreshing our understanding of our calling. It is meant to reinforce the fact that we must love God with all our hearts and our neighbour as ourselves.

We live the Passover message every day, but we refresh our understanding and Covenant during the Passover season. May your Passover season be rich with spiritual food this year!

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