8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.
As you could very easily tell as you walked into the building this morning … things have changed around here just a bit. It seems like some mad scientists who apparently believe in time travel have invaded and have taken over the whole building to set up their science lab with all their different gears, gadgets, and gizmos. With all of the artificial intelligence of the various robots scattered throughout the building, it almost reminds me of the movie I, Robot where robots are made to perform normal, daily human activities like walking your dog and cooking your food. And then of course the movie takes a spin for the worse as robots eventually want to try to take over the human race. I guess we will just have to wait and see what kind of robots we have around here and see if one of us up here winds up missing next week.
So yes, VBS, Vacation Bible School week is upon us! Our Time Lab theme has us traveling through time and space to a number of different special events found within the pages of Scripture. This week, hundreds of young ones who come in and out of our doors will get to learn about God. More specifically they will get to see how Jesus is not just a person of the New Testament. Instead they will learn about how he is part of our Triune God, that he is active and is and will continue to be involved from eternity past to eternity future. These kids will get to see how Jesus is the central person of which all the pages of Scripture point to.
Here’s a quick run-down of where we will be going this week. Jesus was there with the Father and the Holy Spirit in the beginning helping create all things and putting them in their proper place. Jesus was there as the angel of Lord speaking to Moses through the burning bush. Jesus was obviously there at his own earthly birth. Jesus is still here with us today as he promised long ago to never leave us nor forsake us but is living within us and will be with us till the very end of the age (Matthew 28:20). Just as Jesus was there before the beginning of creation, he will be there in eternity future as he is the one who is preparing a room for each of God’s dearly loved children to inhabit someday.
As you can tell, we will be all over the place. But you know what the awesome and great thing about God is, the great thing about Jesus is? … He is literally all over the place as well. He is all over the place as he is with each and every person who has, is, and ever will live. He is all over the place in that he is with us on our mountain tops of exciting times, he is with us in the muck and mire of our sin lifting us out, and he is there guiding us in our deep valley of utter darkness.
We don’t always realize it though. Take for example the disciples. Three days after Jesus was crucified they are walking down this road. They thought that he was dead. As Jesus’ limp body was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb, all of their hopes and dreams of him being the Messiah, of being the Savior were shattered. In the days after his burial, the disciples find themselves trying to navigate their way through a thick fog of confusion. We see this in our Gospel lesson when two of the disciples walking along the road to Emmaus. As they were going along they encounter a guy who seems to have no idea about what happened only a few days earlier. But as they walk together down the road, Jesus, without revealing himself, beginning with Moses, beginning with the first five books of our Bible and going through all the different prophets explains all the Scriptures to these disciples which concern him (Luke 24:27).
Later, after Jesus reveals himself to the rest of the disciples, he proves to them that he is who he says he is by showing them his hands and his feet as well as eating some fish in front them. Jesus tells them again that the Christ was to suffer and how all of those things had to be done in order to fulfill what was written about him in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms (Luke 24:44). In other words, Jesus told them that all of the scriptures talk about him. They do not change. Jesus is the same throughout. As our text says, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
There is a story told about a blind man named Bill. Bill’s friend tells the story of Bill’s talking computer which he uses to study the Bible. Over the course of time, Bill has had a few chuckles over some of the pronunciations. He said, “For a long time, the computer pronounced Holy Bible as ‘holly bibble.’ That is until I figured out how to modify it.”
But there was one thing Bill could not change about his computer. The computer uses the Spanish pronunciation for Jesus Christ. So when it comes to Jesus Christ, the computer says “HEYsus Krist.” Bill said with a smile, “The software programmer is Hispanic and he made sure that HEYsus Krist cannot be altered.”
I agree with Bill and his friend when they say that they like that they can’t change the pronunciation of HEYsus Krist. It is a good reminder for each of us that among the different things in life that can be changed to suit my individual taste, one thing remains tamper-resistant … I can’t change Jesus.
I can’t change Jesus. That’s just a different way of stating our text that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” However, people throughout time have been trying to change God. People have been trying to change God to be what they want Him to be. When God seems to be unresponsive, the people of the Old Testament wandering around in the wilderness made a golden calf to be their god. You and I … we’re no different. We try to change God to make Him fit into whatever we want Him to be. Instead of making a golden calf though, we make things like our phones, our retirement accounts, or our health to be our gods. This statement that I can’t change Jesus, that I can’t change God should be a slap in the face to you and me. It is slap in the face to my tendency to try to modify the words and character of Christ when I don’t like what He says. It is a slap in the face to me when I try to grab a hold of Jesus and try to mold him like playdough into the cookie cutter form that I want him to be so that he can serve my pleasures. It is a slap in the face to me when I try to twist his words to make my sinful thoughts and actions seem to be acceptable.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Which means that God’s love for His beloved creation over the course of thousands of years has never changed and will never change. Even though the good creation of this world is subject to the pain and the consequences of man’s fall into sin, God’s love still remains the same. When man fell into sin, God didn’t decide to sit back in His plush heavenly recliner and think, “Oh, I don’t feel like loving my children today, I think I’ll just let them suffer.” No, God’s love for His creation, for you and me is an amazing type of love which isn’t based on His emotions. God’s unchanging love is based on a promise. He says, “If you follow me, if you obey my commands, if you believe in me … I will never cast you off, I will never forsake you.”
And to prove that God would never abandon you or any of His children, He fulfilled every single Old Testament prophecy in the person of His Son, our Savior Jesus Christ. God promised to redeem His children, to forgive them of their sins, to give them His eternal personal presence, and to give them eternal life. Through the unchanging Jesus who so desperately wants you and all people to be with him … he bore your sins within his body, took them all to cross and there suffered God’s righteous wrath in your place. By his wounds we’re told that we are healed (Isaiah 53:5b). And then by the bodily resurrection of Jesus on Easter morning, you and I have the hope and promise yet to come that we too will live forever in a perfect and glorified body together with Christ and all of our loved ones.
The message of God’s love for all of His creation proclaimed way back in the day of the Old Testament is the very same message which was proclaimed to you years ago, it’s the same message proclaimed today, it’s the same message which will be proclaimed this week to children and volunteer leaders of our VBS, and it is the same message which will be proclaimed in the future, until that day when the unchangeable Christ returns.
No matter how hard I try, I can’t change Jesus. For “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). So instead of you and me trying to change an unchangeable God … praise God that His Word and His love given to you through Jesus Christ is perfect and is unchanging and goes with you wherever you go. Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all human understanding, guard your hearts and your minds in our unchanging Christ Jesus, now and forever. Amen.