Golden text: ...Chose life in order that you may live -- you and your descendants - through loving the LORD your God, through obeying His voice, and through clinging to Him, for He is your Life.... = Deuteronomy 30, 19-20 .
The Gospel Story - especially Jesus' Death, Burial, and Resurrection for us - will always be the Greatest Story Ever Told. This story tells of the LORD's amazing grace and our salvation. This precious story reveals God's love and the plan of our salvation. This engaging story also demonstrates especially compellingly how God is Life himself, always powerfully Present in every circumstance. And, therefore, the ancient Gospel Story is intensely relevant in our time.
For one thing, the preciousness of human Life is too easily ignored in our time. We live in a time when life itself is tragically diminished in the minds of many. It is not just brutal computer games and violent movies - but also hundreds of foreign and domestic terrorists. Choice targets are not military personnel but young civilians as random victims. Targets are indiscriminately young people, whether they are exercising on a bike path, celebrating at an outdoor concert, enjoying a night club, learning at a high school, or travelling in a subway tunnel. Death is delivered randomly, as if life itself is the target. In contrast, in the Gospel Story Jesus is the one who chooses death intentionally, for everyone else to receive abundant life. And also, in the Gospel story Jesus chooses to conquer death in order to share his resurrection life with all who believe in him. Jesus is the definitive choice for Life for us all.
The Gospel Story is also about God's Presence. God was present "in Christ reconciling the world to himself" (II Cor. 5:19). God's amazing Presence made the difference at Jesus' birth, during his ministry, in his miracles, through his teaching, leading Jesus into the obedience of the cross, raising Jesus from the dead, ministering through him again for hundreds of people, and ascending him to the very throne of heaven itself. The Gospel Story of Jesus is especially the story of God's transforming Presence. Jesus is Immanuel, God with us. Tragically, in 2018 too many people want to pretend that God is not present - or even to tell him to go away!
The precious, divine value of human Life and the ultimate gift of divine Presence not only give meaning to the Gospel Story, they are in the very foundation of all of the Bible's teachings. Both of these core values are central to the Genesis story of creation and to the instructive lives of the Patriarchs and Matriarchs. Both human Life and divine Presence are central values in Moses' final sermon, found in Deuteronomy 29 and 30. And they are both highly celebrated and honored values within the rest of the Hebrew Scriptures, too, and in the entire New Testament.
To help us to appreciate the Gospel Story even more, therefore, let us examine the wonderful teachings of Moses in his final sermon, in Deuteronomy 29 and 30, his summary statement of the essential values that make each of our lives precious. Moses summarizes those values in his conclusion:
"... Choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life,..." - Deuteronomy 30:19-20