Last week I said I’d be discussing who Jesus is, and subsequently, some common pitfalls we fall into in our relationship with him. I would like to look at Jesus in three ways: 1. Jesus as God. 2. Jesus as a person. And lastly (and possibly most importantly) 3. Jesus as real.
1. Jesus is God
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:1-5)
“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength. When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead” (Revelation 1:12-17A)
Jesus is God, and as God, he is to be feared, respected, and obeyed. John’s response to fall on his feet before the Lord is the correct response. It’s the very response we should have. Too often our prayer life is boring because we don’t see Jesus for who He really is: He is God, the Lord.
So, our prayers should be full of fear and trembling—yet so often we think of Jesus only as the One who died for our sin and sing songs like, “Yes, Jesus loves me” or “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
This is true, but it’s not the whole picture. Jesus is not only loving—he is terrifying. We shouldn’t go to him as some sort of emotional-support imaginary friend or like a spiritual butler. We should go to Him as God, because that’s who He is.
The Bible says that we should, “fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28B.)
And yet Jesus does love us—and he isn’t only (or primarily) a terror.
2. Jesus is a person
And that means he cares for us personally. He cares for the exact situations we’re going through—and wants to hold us through all of it.
Another pitfall we can fall into is to think of Jesus as some completely ethereal person in the sky, judging us. Yes, his judgment is righteous and good. But judging isn’t the only thing he does. He did, really, die for us because of his love. And that love is still here today.
In Hebrews he is called our great high priest:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15.)
So if Jesus is so powerful (because he is God) and yet loves us so much (in fact is able to sympathize with our very weaknesses) than that’s amazing, incredible news. But it doesn’t make any difference if we don’t get the last point down:
3. Jesus is real
Really real. Not conceptually real—but really, totally, completely real. Often, I feel like I pray and read my Bible because it’s the right thing to do. I don’t understand Jesus’ love for me or the love I should have for him.
I narrow it down to: there’s some white dude with long hair and a long, white robe (kind of like an eternal Santa Clause) who loves the world so much—loves everyone. But I don’t see the personal side to it, because I don’t see that he’s real.
I narrow my love down to—do the right thing. Don’t do the wrong thing. Or else Jesus (or God) will be made at me.
If we put together Jesus’ God-ness and person-ness without understanding that he’s real, we get something like a vending machine or a business relationship:
If I’m bad Jesus will be upset and probably punish me terribly. But if I’m good I can use him (we call it prayer) to get what I want.
That kind of thinking does make Jesus mad. Don’t you understand? Jesus died. . .died so that we could have a brother-like relationship with him. We’re treating him like a super-rich, abusive father that if you can manage to get on his good side will give you lots of money and stuff.
He’s the king of the entire world that gave up everything (literally everything) to have a relationship with you.
How should that impact our prayer life? I’d love to hear your ideas and struggles in relating with our awesome heavenly brother, Jesus!