By Curtis K. Shelburne: Local columnist
Christians serve a God who is making “all things new.”
In the “Revelation,” the Apostle John contrasts the new heaven and the new earth with the old heaven and old earth that, he says, will pass away. He sees a new city, the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven prepared for her God like a bride coming down the aisle, adorned for her husband.
When the Apostle John was writing the words of Revelation, he wrote in Greek. I think it was William Barclay who reminded me that John had two choices for the word we translate into English as “new.” The simplest was “neos,” which means “new in time,” “most recent.” We still use that word in many of our own. For example, a neonatal unit in a hospital is the part of the hospital caring specifically for newborns. But “neos” is not the word the apostle uses.
When he records the words of the King of the universe, saying, “I am making all things new,” the word John uses is “kaine,” which means “new in quality.” It’s not just the latest thing, it’s the best thing.
On the desk near the computer in my study sits an old Underwood Number Five typewriter. Both machines can help me put words on a page. But when I compare that old Underwood Number Five typewriter and my computer, I’m not just comparing something that is old chronologically with something that is much newer. Yes, the computer is newer in “age,” but it is also a “new thing,” new in quality and far better.
For about ten minutes after I got my first computer, I was like some other old fossils I’ve heard talk about writing books or columns or sermons, who said they just felt that actually writing with a pen on paper was something they’d want to continue to do even if they had a computer available. There was, they said, just something about putting the pen in hand and writing on the paper that was integral to their writing. For ten minutes, I thought there might be something to that, and then I started lining up words on the computer. Now I think I’d be nuts to prefer scratch outs and mark-outs, crumpled up pages lying around my chair.
Not everything “new” is better, but I admit that the computer is better than the old Underwood Number Five. It is not just “neos,” new in time, it is “kaine,” new—new in quality.
Christians, of all people, should understand this. For years, God’s people had been offering animal sacrifice, following ritual regulations, but when the real Lamb came, the “Lamb who was slain,” all of that was no longer needed. The perfect Lamb had come and the perfect sacrifice was made once for all for all time.
When Jesus comes into this world, lives for us, dies for us, and is raised to new life, he brings all who love him and follow him in faith into that “kaine” new, new in quality, life, and we relate to God in what we call the “new” covenant, ratified through the blood of his Son, on the basis of faith. That covenant is “kaine” new. It’s completely new and unimaginably better than the old.
Curtis Shelburne is pastor of 16th & Ave. D. Church of Christ in Muleshoe. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org