As He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, ‘be holy, for I am holy.'” (1 Peter 1:15)
During Jesus’ childhood, when He was probably around two years old, pagan magi (“wise men”) come from the East to worship Him, having seen some cosmic phenomenon that led them to Him. They came to Jerusalem looking for the “King of the Jews,” which not only troubles the entire city, but king Herod as well (who wasn’t even legit because he wasn’t from the line of David, btw). They discover that the Messiah was prophesied to be born in Bethlehem, the city of David, so they journeyed there to worship and bring gifts to the young Jesus. When God warns Joseph of Herod’s plan to kill Him, they move to Egypt, where they stay as refugees until Herod’s death. After returning, they settle in Nazareth.
Holiness in the Bible refers to being set apart by God for special use and service. God is holy because He is completely unique; there is no one like Him, He’s the only Being of His kind, completely set apart from everything else in existence. For us, we’re holy because Jesus died on the cross in our place, rendering us positionally holy before God (“justified”), while the Spirit actually makes us more holy day-by-day (“sanctification”). We’re taught in Scripture to pursue holiness (Hebrews 12:14), that holiness is God’s will for us (1 Thess. 4:3-4), Jesus died to make us holy (Titus 2:14), and He Himself is the Holy One (Mark 1:24).
Another way to talk about holiness is being set apart from everyone else; being an outsider or outcast. Isn’t it weird that in Matthew 2, Jesus is called “King of the Jews” by the eastern magi, and “a Ruler who will shepherd..Israel” by Mathew, yet what we see in this account of His childhood doesn’t match this? Think about it, the rightful King of Israel is worshipped by Gentile pagans, but news of His birth troubles Jerusalem and Herod, Jews; Herod tries to kill Him, yet they find safety in Egypt, a Gentile nation! The Messiah, in His birth, was honored by pagans and Gentiles rather than the Jews, His own people. At His death, He was outside of Jerusalem, reproached by His own but vindicated by a Roman soldier. For us, holiness looks like joining Jesus in His rejection and shame from His own people, being outsiders with Him! (Hebrews 13:12-13)
- Jesus Christ was regularly rejected by His own people and associated with outsiders. As His chosen, holy people, we must join Him in His association with the outcast, the outsider, and the foreigner. We’ve been called out in Christ as His holy (“set apart”) ones, which means joining Him as an outcast and associating with them as well. As influencers, who are we called to focus on? We’re called to focus on the the outsiders, unbelievers, the marginalized, people hat are different than us! Influence isn’t about reaching out to those we deem cool or acceptable, but joining the Lord in going to the outcasts and outsiders.
Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the Gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach. (Hebrews 13:12-13)