Jesus

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This semester I’m studying the Synoptic Gospels: Matthew, Mark, and Luke. I’m planning to do an in-depth study of John over the summer to round them out. I love the Gospels because I love learning about Jesus Every time I read even one of them, I am amazed at all Jesus did. That’s as it should be. Jesus was (is) amazing. As a man, He did the impossible. As God, He did the unimaginable.  He performed miracles and turned the order of things upside-down and inside-out. He left His throne in heaven and gave His life to save His creation – you and me and every human being ever born. All of this is reported by the four evangelists of the first century. It is enough to convince me He is God.  But John’s very last verse always grabs me. “Jesus did many other things as well.  If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written” (John 21:25). Wow! Just imagine if we had a written record of everything He did! It would take a lot of coffee to read through them all.

In the past 2000+ years, man has had a variety of reactions to Jesus. Some have denied He is the Son of God and say that the reports of His miracles and resurrection were all fabrications. Some disregard Him altogether and claim He has no impact on their lives. Some have never heard His name at all. Some have laid claim to His name for their own glory and power and wealth. Some made it their mission to figure Him out – as if they could. And some have just fallen at His feet in worship, grateful for His mercy and grace and overwhelmed by His love. I am one of those. I have devoted my life to studying the Scriptures to know Him better. The more I know Him the more I love Him. And John says that I’ve barely scratched the surface.  I suppose if I knew it all, my heart would burst with affection and adoration.

Jesus is everything He claimed to be. Miracle worker. Teacher. Son of God. Savior of the World. The First and the Last. And He is so much more. Oh, Beloved, I pray you know Him and love Him. He is everything to me.

Holy Week


“When the days were coming to a close for Him to be taken up, He determined to journey to Jerusalem” (Luke 9:51 HCSB).

Tomorrow is Palm Sunday and the start of Holy Week – which marks the days leading up to Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.  Some denominations don’t make as big a deal over the traditional Holy Week events as others.  For 18 years, I was the Admin Assistant at a United Methodist church and Holy Week meant extra work for me. Bulletins had to be prepared for all the services: Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Sunrise Service and Easter Worship. For two of those years I also doubled as the custodian and Holy Week meant extra hours scrubbing and polishing to make the facilities shine. By the time Easter Sunday rolled around, I was exhausted.
Since leaving that position, I’ve been able to approach Holy Week with more reflection and worship – and rest. But it makes me think of the Lord throughout that week, how His mind, body and spirit must have been strained to the breaking point, even before the nails tore through His hands and feet. There was no rest for Jesus. There was no shopping trip to buy new shoes and a spring outfit. No day off for Good Friday. No Easter basket piled high with chocolate bunnies. Jesus’ experiences the days between the triumphal entry and the empty tomb were grueling, and they are what make the week truly Holy.
I want to encourage – maybe even challenge you to spend this coming week studying Holy Week in all four of the Gospels – stopping short of the resurrection passages until Easter Sunday. Take note of all that Jesus did and endured in the span of 7 days – and try to envision the physical, emotional and spiritual toil it took on Him. Those passages are: Matthew 26-27; Mark 14-15; Luke 19:28-chapter 23; and John 12-19.

Then come to the resurrection.

 

Who is This Jesus?

“. . .the One and Only, who came from the Father full of grace and truth”  John 1:14b

Ink wells run dry from all the words written about Jesus. Great scholars and theologians have spent their lives studying, not only the Scriptures, but scores of other ancient writings in the hopes of understanding Him.  Still, He is so much more, so much other, than mere words can describe. Thankfully we have the testimonies of those who walked closest to Him, we have His own words, and we have the pronouncement of the God of heaven and earth upon which to study and meditate.  That is more than enough for a life-long pursuit.  Even then, we’ll barely scratch the surface of who this Jesus really is.  I know I can’t do Him justice in a few hundred words, but I write this to whet your appetite to know Him more.

Matthew tells us He is “God with us” – “Immanuel” (Matthew 1:23).  This is not a new concept.  God was with man in the Garden, in perfect communion until sin entered the picture.  He was with the Israelites in a cloud in the desert and in the Holy of Holies in the Tabernacle and later, the Temple.  But when Jesus came, He was “God-in-the-flesh with us,” walking among His people, touching them with hands they could feel, speaking words their own ears could hear, eating and drinking and laughing and crying as any other man.  Yet He was very much God, performing miracles and speaking with divine authority.  If we need any more proof of His God-ness, twice Matthew reports a voice from heaven saying, “This is My Son, whom I love; with Him I am well pleased” (3:17; 17:5).  That’s a ringing endorsement if there ever was one.

Mark shows Him to be a King with uncommon power to drive out demons who recognized Him as “the Holy One of God” (1:24), to heal, to raise the dead, to give sight to the blind, to multiply a few loaves and fishes, and to calm the raging sea.  He also shows Him to be a King who endured uncommon suffering to rescue His people from the sentence of death.

Dr. Luke shines his spotlight on Jesus as the salvation of all people (2:32).  He wrote to give an ordered account of Jesus from reliable eye-witness testimonies.  Luke offers the most detailed version of the events surrounding Jesus’ birth, and tradition holds that these were Mary’s own memories.   How incredible that we have the testimony of Jesus’ Father, and the recollections of His mother to confirm that this Jesus was fully God and fully man.

From his opening testimony – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1) – John most powerfully reveals Jesus as the Son of God, the One and Only, divine in nature and one with His Father.  John records Jesus’ “I AM” statements, a direct connection to God’s own self-revelation (Exodus 3:14), and His declaration:  “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father” (14:9).  John also devotes half of his gospel to Jesus’ final week, His death, burial, resurrection and post-resurrection appearances. (John 12-21).

Paul said that He is “the image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15), and the writer of Hebrews said “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being’ (Hebrews 1:3).  Revelation shows Him to be the victorious conqueror over evil.

Many, many people have written many, many words trying to elaborate on these accounts.  Popular culture has tried to stretch the story of Jesus far beyond the Scriptures and a great many unbelievers have spilled much ink attempting to discredit and refute His Name. But there is only one place to find the truth about this Jesus. Everything you need to know about Him is recorded in the Bible.  He is present in every book from Genesis to Revelation.

We began this devotional by asking the question, “Who is this Jesus?”  But Jesus has a question for you: “Who do you say I am? (Matthew 16:15).  Is He “God with me?”  Is He your King?  Can you declare, “He is my salvation!”?  Do you recognize Him as the Son of God?  If not, I encourage you to take another look at the Jesus of the Bible.  He is all this and more—and if you believe in Him and confess His Name, He will be all this for you.  Grab your Bible and get to know the one who loves you enough to die for you.  His Name is Jesus.

Lord Jesus, if I could mine the depths of all the Bible I still would barely scratch the surface of who You are.  I want to know You as deeply and truly as I can this side of heaven—I rejoice in knowing I will have all of eternity to fill in the gaps.  Amen.

Image from https://pablorenauld.deviantart.com/art/Jesus-Christ-55567468.