Who Is Jesus?
Here it is. The last installment of my first series on Surrender. You guys – it took me awhile to get started. Truth be told, I’ve hemmed & hawed, and flat our avoided this task while trying to make sure (without writing a thing, mind you) to “get it right”. And I’ve been afraid of me – getting in the way of it. But listen…I’m human and I will get in the way of most things, and I’m sure to say something in a way that just isn’t quite right. Only God is infallible.
My only reasonable aim is to introduce Jesus. It’s up to you, reader, to shake His hand and make His acquaintance. And I pray you will.
Though I wish I could, I can’t convince you of His worthiness. That is up to The Holy Spirit.
So…the pressure is off.
I can and will pray that these words not misrepresent my savior in any way, but lead you to His own words of ultimate truth, goodness and the needfulness of full surrender.
Alright, it’s the final leg of this road trip…let’s go!
“God so closely binds himself to humans in the incarnation of Jesus that He becomes the human that we were made to be and through Him we become the humans we were made to be.”
– Tim Mackie (The Bible Project Podcast, The Kingdom of God Part 3) (Emphasis is mine)
The project of humanity set forth by God in the book of Genesis went awry. If we can use the word “awry”? God is Omniscient (all-knowing) so He must’ve known that there was a possibility that the first humans (and all humans after) would choose incorrectly. Yet for some reason, (My hypothesis? LOVE) He decided to risk it anyway. God was ok with it going very wrong for a while, knowing that ultimately His divine nature would make it very right.
So we revisit the garden in Genesis 3 and watch as Adam and Eve choose our demise. As Dr. Tim Mackie puts it, “they would choose to define good and evil for themselves.”
And as discussed in our last installment of the Surrender Series, “Part 2: Who is God and Who are We,” Adam & Eve’s choice ushered in a new kind of kingdom: a kingdom of darkness. One where humans began reigning on their own, without God. The beautiful vision that God had of making us co-stewards of all that He had given to the earth, was suddenly destroyed and humans pursued their own little kingdoms. With each little king, completely unequipped to deal with the consequences of a now Godless society.
Unable to see all, be everywhere at once, or wield any real power – humans could not tame the beast of sin that had been released into the world.
God’s original people, the Israelites, were taken into physical captivity and brutally mistreated for hundreds of years. Then, after being rescued by God, they succumbed to their own sinful condition; worshipping idols and running after every possible thing that wasn’t good for them.
The Old Testament is the story of all of our lives really. It reveals the biggest irony in our shared human history: Our continual habit of allowing sin to “boss us” while completely ignoring the one boss who is actually worthy of our surrender. We are tricked time after time into believing we have “chosen” freedom, while all the while walking in bondage.
Our enemy is cunning and slick. But God…
Searching for Leadership
The Israelites, like us – searched for leadership. And God obliged them, allowing them kings throughout history. The bible remembers a few of these kings (i.e. King David, King Solomon) as good, while many were horrible. Yet, even the “good kings” engaged in adultery, murder, greed, polygamy and more. Because these are the ways of our hearts when they are off kilter; steeped in pridefulness and not in God.
We are always moving towards God or away from God. There really is no such thing as standing still.
The cycle lived out by the Israelites should seem familiar to us all. Electing modern leaders with the hope that they will lead with integrity, make policies that are in our best interest, and truly care for us. Yet, they all inevitably seem to let us down in one way or another. Even the most well-intentioned miss the mark.
Interestingly, most of us would not choose to go without a leader of some kind because we understand the value of good leadership. We become angry, frustrated, depressed, and hopeless even – without it. Our hearts yearn to be lead.
So how do we reckon this need for leadership with the reality of the sin in each of us?
Jesus is that reckoning. He is the best ruler we could ever have and God in his long-suffering kindness offered Him to us as the way back to Himself. He offers Jesus as the forever ruler of our hearts.
Accept the offer.
Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. John 14:6
The Leader of Our Hearts
Fully God, yet fully man. This is the picture the bible paints of Jesus and it’s a tough thing to wrap our minds around. Only the Divine could have come up with a restoration plan as wild as this one. Think of it…
Our Creator, who understands that we have no way of making it back to Him on our own, provides HIMSELF as our way out of the mess we’d made. He gives up all the benefits of royalty. He gives up living in the perfect paradise of heaven to come dwell among us as a poor carpenter’s son. He is chased by people bent on murdering Him for nearly His entire life, is tortured, and then dies the most heinous death anyone has ever heard of to pay the price for our sin? Sins he never played any part in.
I’m sorry, what?
Even on my kindest day. Even during my most intentional act of kindness this level of self-sacrifice has never crossed my mind and I am confident in saying it has never crossed your mind either.
But it gets even better – SO much better. Because not only did Jesus die for us, but he goes to the grave and three days later RISES AGAIN. Victorious over the one real weapon that our enemy can wield over us: death.
“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?” – 1 Corinthians 15:55
Because even in our most horrific moments on this earth, people are resilient and can overcome even the most terrible tragedies. The only thing we can’t overcome is death.
Jesus. He comes to bring our salvation from this death. He offers us all eternity in heaven. Every single one of us. Meaning that from where you sit reading this right now, you could know that your life will never end. That your story will go on into infinity with your acceptance of His offer of belief in Him and what He’s done for us.
And if that weren’t enough….
Jesus didn’t just come for our assurances of salvation. No, He came proclaiming a new way of life RIGHT NOW. And I’m more convinced than ever that if we miss this, we miss it all. And I know this because I missed it for a long time: Jesus came to save us from our sins – to save us from an eternity spent in hell but He also came to bring us a new way of life – RIGHT NOW. Yes, RIGHT NOW.
Jesus came healing bodies and hearts. He came proclaiming life-altering truth, and a way beyond the shadowy existence we all so quickly settle into. A life of meaninglessly moving from one point on the map to another and then back again. He came offering us the kind of life God meant for us from the beginning: one of fullness.
Think back to Genesis 1 & 2. God’s design from the beginning: co-stewarding. Stewarding not just plants and animals, but people. Bringing light and warmth, grace and kindness, and being the hands and feet of Jesus – today - is our offer. This right now-ness that we are called to participate in is what the bible calls, The Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God.
A life lived as ambassadors of The Kingdom is available to us as a gift when we practice “laying down our nets” as the first disciples did, choosing instead to follow Him – becoming fishers of men (Matthew 4:18-20)
Jesus is the sweetest disruptor of life. He disrupts us in order to bring about something better within us. In his book, Beautiful Outlaw, author John Eldredge says it better than I can:
“Jesus came to reveal God to us. He is the defining word on God – on what the heart of God is truly like, on what God is up to in the world, and on what God is up to in your life. An intimate encounter with Jesus is the most transforming experience of human existence. To know him as he is, is to come home. To have his life, joy, love, and presence cannot be compared. A true knowledge of Jesus is our greatest need and our greatest happiness. To be mistaken about him is the saddest mistake of all.” (Emphasis is mine)
Jesus comes to bring us a better way of life. No, not through monetary riches. But by leading us into the kinds of riches that can’t be purchased at a store. These riches amount to purpose in our days and peace in our night. I’m talking about lives that reflect the glory of God because we were made to reflect His Divine Image.
“Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.”
1 Corinthians 6:19-20
And how do we glorify God with our bodies? By allowing Him to lead us back into our original role:
And this is who God is - an all powerful being, calling us to the joy of co-creating with Him and following after Him.
What the enemy set out to destroy, by lying to us in that Garden – Jesus emerges to take back. How could anyone but the one and only True God pen such a tale?
As you read this, you know as well as I do that the world is not all goodness and light. In fact there are times when the depravity of the Old Testament sounds like nothing compared to what happens in our own homes or what we’re seeing on the nightly news.
I believe however, that if we think deeply about the story the bible tells about our origins and that the fall of Genesis 3 actually occurred, it makes sense.
The endless cycle of violence: war, mass shootings, genocides…The vitriol we spew towards one another…all of it points to a world steeped in a very real sin problem. And there is but one real answer: Jesus.
So What Does This All mean For me?
The truth is, there is much about Jesus that appeals to people. Even people who don’t believe in His deity or believe in the bible’s inerrancy can find something of Jesus’ teachings that they can get behind. His compassion. His mercy. His wisdom for living…all of these ideals are intensely appealing. Jesus has many fans. The problem is, Jesus isn’t asking for fans. He’s asking for followers.
And the problem further still is that to follow Jesus, means leaving a lot behind. Which is where most people politely or not so politely, decline.
Following, quite literally means going someone else’s way. It means giving up our way of doing things and what we think is best. It means caring a little more about others than ourselves. It means leaving behind the things that the bible would call sin. It means turning from things that may mean a whole lot to us in order to pursue the will of God…the things He says should mean a lot to us. It means that as God changes our hearts, what He values - becomes what we we value.
In essence, it means giving up our little kingdoms. The tiny thrones erected by our ancient brother and sister, Adam & Eve – must be torn down. In their place, we must allow God to take up residence on a much larger throne. His area of governance? Our hearts.
It means surrender.
Over and over again. Learning to trust Him for a better way of living.
Friends, He is so worthy. You just have to allow Him to show you.
Will you surrender?
Though this series is over, the purpose of this blog is to encourage and equip followers of Jesus to lean into Him. To surrender to Him daily, in all the little ways we’re called to. And all the big ways that can be enormously difficult. I hope you’ll choose to follow along with me as I learn to lean in myself. Make sure to click subscribe so you’ll be updated as new blogs arrive.
Next up…A Bible Study Companion to the Surrender Series. Available for Download, September 2019!
As always, a few reading & listening recommendations for the road!
Bible: The Book of Matthew