/ merry / Kit Swartz

Merry New Year!

Wait.  Isn’t it Merry Christmas and Happy New Year?  Exactly.  But newness is the reason and purpose of Christmas.  Jesus came in order to make us new by means of His life and work.  These two things belong together.  Therefore, Merry New Year! 

Life in this world is worn out and broken down like the image of the old year passing.  We are viciously pursued by temptation, fatally wounded by sin, consumed by death and terrified by hell.  But a Savior was born for us in order to deliver us from all these old, bad things and to bring us into new, good things.  This is what salvation means. 

From the beginning of His Messianic work, Jesus was tempted in every possible way and degree, climaxing in the temptation to come down from the cross and command legions of angels to obliterate His enemies.  By overcoming every temptation perfectly, He is able and willing to help all who encounter temptations that would totally overpower them if left to their own wisdom and strength.  Through faith in Him, we are given participation in His victory over and enabled to pursue the right and good. 

Though Jesus did not sin, He accepted the guilt of all the sins of all His people for all time.  Just as the High Priest confessed the sins of the people on the head of the sacrificial animal, so the Father put the sins of His people on the head of Jesus.  He who knew no sin, became sin for us.  He was called Jesus, because He delivers His people from their sins.  And just as the blameless character of the sacrificial victim was credited to the people in exchange for their sins, so the perfect righteousness of Christ is given to His people.  We have the complete credit for, and increasing expression of, Christ’s righteousness through faith in Him.  

It is because Jesus received the guilt of our sins that He had to die.  But even death could not hold the Holy and Righteous One.  He died because of our sins but He was raised from the dead because of His righteousness.  And through faith in Him, we participate in His resurrection with newness of life.  We live in His righteousness.  His good works are given to us to do for the blessing of ourselves and others. 

Having destroyed the evil powers of temptation, sin and death, Jesus also plunders hell of those doomed to its rolls.  Instead, He gives His people citizenship in heaven.  In Christ, heaven is our home and we are passing through this life seeking to bless all along the way.  We also bring as many as are willing to leave everything and follow Jesus with us to the eternal rest He provides for His own. 

Jesus gives us a Merry Christmas in order that we would enjoy a Happy New Year.  He brings us out of the old inclination to evil into the new disposition for good; out of the old bondage of our sin into the new freedom of His righteousness; out of the old fear of our death into the new joy of His life; out of the old destiny of hell into the new confident expectation of heaven.

Look with the eyes of faith to the Christ of Christmas so that you will enjoy a New Year that is truly blessed.  Merry New Year!  

Kit Swartz Ruling Elder, RPC Fulton Teaching Elder (Emeritus), RPC Oswego