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Saturday, June 1, 2013

Who Is Jesus?


Who Is Jesus?



The Scribes and Pharisees of Jesus’ day held a lot of influence over the Jewish people.  In God’s name they burdened the people with hundreds of strict religious laws.  Jesus was not pleased with the Scribes and Pharisees when He saw them taking the people away from God.   


 The Scribes and Pharisees were threatened by Jesus and tried to find a way to kill him!  They watched nervously as Jesus healed the sick and taught the people about God and His love.  They could see how the crowds loved Him and they were afraid that the people might listen to Jesus instead of to them?   They might even lose some of their power and control over the religious community.  They must find a way to bring Jesus down!


The Scribes and Pharisees followed Jesus around trying to get Him to say something that they could use against Him in court so that they could have Him killed.  One day as Jesus was preaching to the crowds the Scribes and Pharisees demanded that Jesus show them a “sign” - something supernatural - to prove that He was the Messiah.  (Matt. 12:38-42) 


Jesus refused to give the “sign” they asked for or to fall for their trap. He told them that the only “sign” they would have was the sign of Jonah.  Jesus said: “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.” (Matt.12:40)  Jesus was speaking about his future death, as He was three days and nights in the grave before He rose from the dead.


Do we ever want a “sign” like the Scribes and Pharisees did, or some kind of proof to know for sure that Jesus is the Messiah and the Savior?  The Scribes and Pharisees knew that the Scriptures promised that a Messiah or Savior would come.  But they still missed their Messiah – Jesus - when He did come probably because if they had believed in Him they would have had to change their lives around, and they did not want to do that.  Their minds were closed and so they missed Him.


 We also have the Scriptures promising a Savior.  And if we believe the Scriptures and believe in Him our lives will be changed too.  Are we open to that?  What do the Scriptures say about Jesus?


The Scriptures say that Jesus is much more than we can imagine.  Jesus is not some kind of “superstar” or a special “holy” man or an extraordinary magician that can “perform” for us – show us a “sign” - like the religious leaders demanded in order for us to believe in Him.  In fact Jesus is so much more than that! Let’s see what the Scriptures say about who Jesus really is.  


When we read the Bible we find that Jesus is the energy that gives life to everything – through Him everything is created and given life and one of His names is the “Word of God.”  Scripture says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… Through Him all things were made: without Him nothing was made that has been made.  In Him was life, and that life was the light of people.”  (John 1:1-3a)  Scripture is saying that everything has been created through Jesus Christ.   



The Bible also says this about Jesus: “…in these last days God has spoken to us by his Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe.  The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.” (Hebrews 1:2b-3) 


More about Jesus: “He (Jesus) is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  And He (Jesus) is the head of the body, the church: He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead so that in everything He might have the supremacy.  For God was pleased to have all his fullness live in Him, and through Him to restore to Himself everything on earth and heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”  (Colossians 1:17-20)  These verses are saying that God is putting the world back together through Jesus. 


I Corinthians 8:6 reads: “…there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom all things came and through whom we live.”  The heart of the Christian story is that God became man - Jesus.  Some people feel that since they have never seen or understood how God could become a man they can not believe it!  The world is not limited to what we can understand.  And there are realities and mysteries of the universe that are way too complex for our human minds to grasp?  Do we have to understand or see or experience something before we believe that it exists?


We see in Scripture that Jesus transcends whatever labels we try to put on Him.  He tells us in John 12:32 “And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all people to Myself.”  And in John 6:51 He speaks about his body and says: “This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.”   


And Jesus said this about Himself. “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  No person comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6) Jesus is saying that He is the only way to God.  There are not many ways to God or many truths.  Just one – Jesus. He does not say that those coming to the Father through Him will all know that they are coming through Him.  Scripture says that everything that God is doing in the world to save and redeem and restore the world is happening through Jesus. Everything! People may be coming to Jesus in all sorts of ways.  Some may bump into Him and not realize who He is.  Scripture says that Jesus is the “Truth” and people who is looking for the truth are looking for Jesus.


People may be blessed by Him and not know it was Jesus who blessed them?  Some may say “yes” to the light that is given to them, and not know that that light is Jesus!  That reminds me of another Bible story in Exodus 17!  Remember when Moses and the Israelites left Egypt and traveled across the desert on their way to the Promised Land.  The desert was hot and dry and there was no water anywhere for the Israelites to drink – just hot dry sand as far as the eye could see! 


Scripture says that the Jewish men started grumbling and fussing and soon they were panicking and shouting and waving their fists at Moses and the women were sobbing and crying and wringing their hands. “Why did you bring us out here in this wilderness to die of thirst?” they screamed.  “Our little children will die out here in this dreadful place, and our animals too.  It’s all your fault!  We should have stayed in Egypt!  What are you going to do about it Moses?”


Moses is in a bind so he cries out to God, “What am I to do with all these people?  There is no water anywhere and we are so thirsty!”  And God as always answers Moses and shows him a nearby rock in the desert and He tells Moses to strike it with his staff.  This rock is just an ordinary looking rock.  It looks like all the other rocks there in the desert and everyone knows that water doesn’t come out of a rock!  But God has taken care of the Israelites this far along their journey so Moses tells the people that God has spoken and God will provide water somehow.  


Moses obeys God and he strikes the rock with all the people watching.  And would you believe it, out of the rock comes water!  Lots and lots of water gushing out everywhere! Enough water for all of the people and animals and little children to drink – and to bathe in and to pour into storage jars. The Israelites drink the water and bathe and laugh and are jubilant and the children run around singing songs about God giving them a drink out of a rock and they try hitting other rocks to see if water might come out of them too.


This is an unusual story and a very unusual rock and Scripture doesn’t say anything more about the rock that gave out water to a thirsty nation until more than a thousand years later when Paul mentions the story about the rock and he says that the thirsty Israelites  out in the desert “drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ Jesus.”  (1 Corinthians 10:4)


Did you get that?  Jesus Christ was the rock! –the rock in the desert that gave out all the  water!  Jesus Christ was present with those thirsty people in that moment, and He was providing the water they needed to survive.  Jesus was sustaining and giving and taking care of their needs all along and they didn’t even know his name. And Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians that the spiritual rock -Jesus- was accompanying them.  Jesus was going with them on their journey across the desert and they didn’t even know his name!


If Jesus was in the desert with the Israelites and they didn’t know, then where else has He been present and folks didn’t know?  Is He with people today who have never heard his name giving them water when they are thirsty and they don’t even know it is Him?  Has He been with you or with me disguised as a rock or as someone else and we didn’t know?  Jesus Christ is everywhere.  He is God the Son.  He is as narrow as Himself and as wide as the universe!


Some of the ideas and scriptures in this blog were taken from Rob Bell’s book:  Love Wins,  Chapter 6 “There Are Rocks Everywhere”, pp. 139-163.       










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