Freedom in Jesus

Matthew Henry on Colossians Chapter 2…

“He takes occasion hence to warn them again: “Wherefore, if you be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to ordinances? Colossians 2:20. If as Christians you are dead to the observances of the ceremonial law, why are you subject to them? Such observances as, Touch not, taste not, handle not,” Colossians 2:21,22. Under the law there was a ceremonial pollution contracted by touching a dead body, or any thing offered to an idol or by tasting any forbidden meats, &c., which all are to perish with the using, having no intrinsic worth in themselves to support them, and those who used them saw them perishing and passing away or, which tend to corrupt the Christian faith, having no other authority than the traditions and injunctions of men.–Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship and humility. They thought themselves wiser than their neighbours, in observing the law of Moses together with the gospel of Christ, that they might be sure in the one, at least, to be in the right but, alas! it was but a show of wisdom, a mere invention and pretence. So they seem to neglect the body, by abstaining from such and such meats, and mortifying their bodily pleasures and appetites but there is nothing of true devotion in these things, for the gospel teaches us to worship God in spirit and truth and not by ritual observances, and through the mediation of Christ alone and not of any angels. Observe,

1. Christians are freed by Christ from the ritual observances of Moses’s law, and delivered from that yoke of bondage which God himself had laid upon them.

2. Subjection to ordinances, or human appointments in the worship of God, is highly blamable, and contrary to the freedom and liberty of the gospel. The apostle requires Christians to stand fast in the liberty with which Christ hath made them free, and not to be entangled again with the yoke of bondage, Galatians 5:1. And the imposition of them is invading the authority of Christ, the head of the church, and introducing another law of commandments contained in ordinances, when Christ has abolished the old one, Ephesians 2:15.

3. Such things have only a show of wisdom, but are really folly. It is true wisdom to keep close to the appointments of the gospel, and an entire subjection to Christ, the only head of the church.”

Eye witness

Peter was there and saw it himself, along with two others:

Therefore I will not be negligent to remind you of these things, though you know them, and are established in the present truth. I think it right, as long as I am in this tent, to stir you up by reminding you; knowing that the putting off of my tent comes swiftly, even as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me. Yes, I will make every effort that you may always be able to remember these things even after my departure. For we did not follow cunningly devised fables, when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory, when the voice came to Him from the Majestic Glory, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” This voice we heard come out of heaven when we were with Him in the holy mountain.
–2 Peter 1:12-18

What did they see? Here is Matthew’s account of what they saw:

After six days, Jesus took with him Peter, James, and John his brother, and brought them up into a high mountain by themselves. He was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as the light. Behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them talking with Him. Peter answered, and said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you want, let’s make three tents here: one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” While he was still speaking, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them. Behold, a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Listen to Him.” When the disciples heard it, they fell on their faces, and were very afraid. Jesus came and touched them and said, “Get up, and don’t be afraid.”
–Matthew 17:1-7

This fisherman, Peter, saw the majesty of God’s Anointed Son…Jesus. Years later, as Peter neared death, he could be found continuing to describe to people what he saw and heard back on that mountain. What he had witnessed had changed him and given birth within him a conviction that would remain until, and through the midst of, his murderous death by the Romans. After seeing the Son of God, Peter had been ruined to his old self and to the careless world around him. Peter saw the revelation of the glory, honor and majesty of the Son of God, and he needed to tell everyone who would listen before death would silence him. From that day on, Peter “remembered the Lord.” It was not just what he did, but it was what he was from the changed depths of his being. The burning conviction within him needed to make sure that, after his death, we could read and understand his eye witness account and, with the convicting power of the Holy Spirit, come to believe into and experience Jesus for ourselves. The knowledge of the Son of God can be ours — first hand and experiential — if we will humble ourselves to receive the eye witness testimony and hear what the Son of God is saying… if anyone thirsts!

Don’t feel bad if you feel this way too, you’re not alone

A W Tozer on Christmas:

“So completely are we carried away by the excitement of this midwinter festival that we are apt to forget that its romantic appeal is the least significant thing about it. The theology of Christmas too easily gets lost under the gay wrappings, yet apart from the theological meaning it really has none at all. A half dozen doctrinally sound carols serve to keep alive the great deep truth of the Incarnation, but aside from these, popular Christmas music is void of any real lasting truth. The English mouse that was not even stirring, the German Tannenbaum so fair and lovely and the American red-nosed reindeer that has nothing to recommend it have pretty well taken over in Christmas poetry and song. These along with merry old St. Nicholas have about displaced Christian theology.… It does seem strange that so many persons become excited about Christmas and so few stop to inquire into its meaning; but I suppose this odd phenomenon is quite in harmony with our unfortunate human habit of magnifying trivialities and ignoring matters of greatest import.… The Christmas message, when stripped of its pagan overtones, is relatively simple: God is come to earth in the form of man. John 1:14; Galatians 4:4–5; 1 Timothy 3:16

In these latter-years of the twentieth century no other season of the year reveals so much religion and so little godliness as the Christmas season.… How far have we come in the corruption of our tastes from the reverence of the simple shepherds, the chant of the angels and the beauty of the heavenly host! The Star of Bethlehem could not lead a wise man to Christ today; it could not be distinguished amid the millions of artificial lights hung aloft on Main Street by the Merchants Association. No angels could sing loudly enough to make themselves heard above the raucous, earsplitting rendition of “Silent Night” meant to draw customers to the neighborhood stores. In our mad materialism we have turned beauty into ashes, prostituted every normal emotion and made merchandise of the holiest gift the world ever knew.

Christ came to bring peace and we celebrate His coming by making peace impossible for six weeks of each year. Not peace but tension, fatigue and irritation rule the Christmas season. He came to free us of debt and many respond by going deep into debt each year to buy enervating luxuries for people who do not appreciate them. He came to help the poor and we heap gifts upon those who do not need them. The simple token given out of love has been displaced by expensive presents given because we have been caught in a squeeze and don’t know how to back out of it. Not the beauty of the Lord our God is found in such a situation, but the ugliness and deformity of human sin. Matthew 2:1–11; Luke 2:8–20; Luke 4:18–19”
— A.W Tozer “The Warfare of the Spirit”

For more thoughts about the practice of celebrating “Christmas” see:
http://www.scripturesongs.net/misc/THE-PRACTICE-OF-CELEBRATING-CHRISTMAS.pdf

To bind up the broken-hearted

“He was to be a healer. He was sent to bind up the broken-hearted, as pained limbs are rolled to give them ease, as broken bones and bleeding wounds are bound up, that they may knit and close again. Those whose hearts are broken for sin, who are truly humbled under the sense of guilt and dread of wrath, are furnished in the gospel of Christ with that which will make them easy and silence their fears. Those only who have experienced the pains of a penitential contrition may expect the pleasure of divine cordials and consolations.”
—Matthew Henry on Isaiah 61.1

“The Spirit of the Lord Yahweh is on me; because Yahweh has anointed me to preach good news to the humble; he has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening [of the prison] to those who are bound…”
—Isaiah 61:1

“He [Jesus] came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up. He entered, as was his custom, into the synagogue on the Sabbath day, and stood up to read. The book of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. He opened the book, and found the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, Because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim release to the captives, Recovering of sight to the blind, To deliver those who are crushed, And to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant, and sat down. The eyes of all in the synagogue were fastened on him. He began to tell them, “Today, this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.
—Luke 4:16-21