Not a big deal, really. Not a big deal, literally. It’s the difference between a three-letter word and a two-letter word. But as I chew on it this morning, it’s the difference of being thankful for feeling secure versus being in awe as, with all the blood-bought saints of God, I realize I’m kind of special. Either way, praising God this morning that I am a kept man.
Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ and brother of James, To those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ: May mercy, peace, and love be multiplied to you.
(Jude 1-2 ESV)
Kept for Jesus Christ. Or, as it says in my footnotes, could be kept by Jesus Christ.
Kept. Preserved, according to King James. Literally, to attend to carefully; to guard; to reserve, or withhold for personal ends. It’s that last possible nuanced meaning I think that tips it for the ESV translators.
And hey, whether it’s for or by, what kind of wave of gratitude washes over you as you noodle on the fact that God the Father has determined to call you, love you, and keep you? A pretty big wave, I’m thinking.
So if it’s “only” kept by His blessed Son, how soul-soothing is that? The finished work of the cross sufficient to atone for our sins, all of our sins — past, present, and future. The intercessory work of the risen, ascended Christ able to save to the uttermost “since He always lives to make intercession” for us (Heb. 7:25).
Because we are kept by Jesus Christ we can be assured that, truly, the work God has begun in us He will complete in us (Php. 1:6). Even when we may feel like we’re losing our grip, His grip is steadfast and sure. Our Savior assuring us of eternal life as He is confident that we “will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (Jn. 10:28).
Kept by Jesus? To be sure. What blessed security and assurance.
But kept for Jesus, as well? Hmmm . . .
Not just rescued, not just redeemed, but reconciled to Him and for Him.
He wants us. Not that He needs us. Not because of who we are, nor because of what we can bring to the relationship. In fact, wonder of wonders, He wants us despite what we’ve done, the penalty for which sent Him to the cross.
Still, He wants us. The way a Bridegroom desires His bride (Eph. 5:25-27). And so we are kept for Jesus. That’s why He’s preparing a place for us and has promised to come for us and take us to Himself “that where I am you may be also” (Jn. 14:3b). Thus, even as we walk into this day, we are being kept for Jesus.
Oh, who am we to merit such favor? Wrong question.
Who is He? The glorious, gracious, King of kings and Lord of lords. The Head of the church. The blessed Bridegroom.
Jaw-dropping. Love evoking. Worthy of all our worship.
I am my Beloved’s and my Beloved is mine. (Song of Solomon 6:3 ESV)
A kept man.
Only by His grace. Only for His glory.