Would you say that you are close to God? Or distant? Thinking in family terms, would you say you are part of God’s family? I recently blogged about the phrase that people sometimes use, “We’re all God’s children.” As I reflected on that phrase, I found it needed further explanation. You can read that post here. As we continue studying Titus 2:11-15, what we find it that anyone can be adopted into God’s family. Keep reading to learn how!
Paul’s long sentence continues in verse 13 where he says that we live this Jesus-shaped life, while we wait for the blessed hope, the glorious appearing of our great God and savior Jesus Christ
When Paul calls Jesus “our great God and savior Jesus Christ,” he is saying that Jesus and God are one and the same. Philip Yancey, in The Jesus I Never Knew, says that Christians often wonder “Where is God? Does God care about my life?” Yancey’s response is that we should look at Jesus. Jesus is God in the flesh, and thus it will become clear, as we look at Jesus, his life, death, and resurrection, not only who God is, but that God cares deeply for us.
We look to him, Paul says, while we are waiting for his return. He is coming again. Jesus himself told his disciples that he was going back to his father, but that they should be ready for his return. What does it mean to be ready? Paul is describing it for us. It means receiving God’s gift of grace and allowing that grace to inform and energize our lives to the point where we would say “NO” ungodliness and worldly passions, and we would follow the example and way of Jesus.
After saying that we should be waiting for Jesus’ return, he goes on in verse 14 to talk about Jesus. Some people have called verse 14 “the Gospel in a nutshell.” The word “Gospel” is an Old English way of saying “Good News,” and it refers to the story of Jesus, that in Jesus there is Good News for humanity. That’s exactly what Paul has been getting at in these verses. That God’s gracious gift has appeared to all, bringing salvation to humanity
Paul begins verse 14 by saying Jesus gave himself for us. How did Jesus give himself for us? Think about his birth, life, death, and resurrection. He became one of us. Though he is God, he took on a human body, and was born into this world. That was the beginning of the gift of himself. Then the gift continued as he lived with perfection, showing us how to live, showing us what it means to be human for 33 years. Then he gave himself by sacrificing himself, dying for us to defeat the power of sin, death and the devil, to make right that which was broken. But he didn’t just give us the gift of his birth, life and death; he also gave us the gift of new life, of which he was first, when he rose again from the dead. So through him we, too, can have a totally new life.
So Jesus gave himself for us, and Paul now describes three results of Jesus giving himself for us.
First, Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us. What is redemption? The image this word carries is that of being set free. What once enslaved us, no longer does so. We are set free to live a new life of freedom. That is why Paul says we are redeemed from wickedness. We are set free from slavery to wickedness and we are set free to live godly lives.
Paul’s thought continues with the second point, that Jesus gave himself for us to purify for himself a people that are his own. Through his gift of himself there is a radical change that can take place in the lives of those who receive his gift. A purification takes place. A cleansing. This is symbolized when we celebrate the ritual of baptism. When we receive his gift of grace, Jesus enters our lives and makes us new.
And maybe it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it. What God wants for you, this idea of cleansing you, this radical change, is better by far than anything out there. In our world today, there are so many competing ideas for what is the good life. Paul is saying that what God has in store for you is far better.
I love how Paul describes this in Titus when he says that Jesus wants to purify us so that we are a people who are his own. This purification is the idea of a cleansing that happens in our lives, whereby God gives his holiness to us. If you search online for the word “cleanse,” you get a lot of pictures of people washing their face or hands, using a cleansing product to remove the impurity that got on their skin. In our world there is lots of impurity from pollution or dirt or something else outside them. You wash it off, and you are cleansed. But when God purifies us, he cleans deeper than that. We are changed from the inside out, because he gives his purity to us, a purity or holiness that we didn’t have before that.
And what is more, Paul tells Titus, this purification allows us to be adopted into God’s family. Once we were not the people of God, but now through Jesus giving himself, we can be part of his family. Think about the richness of that. When you receive the God’s gracious gift of salvation, believing in him and giving your life to follow him, you become his very own. That means, to God you are not just a nameless face in the crowd. You are not just a number or a statistic. You are his very own. This word carries the idea of how special you are to God. He knows your name, he is close to you. He wants to talk with you and walk with you and spend time with you. That’s what Jesus wanted to happen when he gave his life for you. Think about that! The almighty God of the universe actually cares that much about you! Did you know that? So not only does he want to break the chains of what is destroying you, he wants to cleanse you, and make you a whole new person, and be close to you.
I’d be glad to talk with you further about this. Just comment below!