Christian Music News
Parables! I like parables. Those little word pictures are so efficient at illustrating and shortening the amount of time it takes to explain, to compare, sometimes very complicated or perhaps misunderstood things. It’s a bit like when I was in the USAF and we used initials for description: KP, CO, USAF, TDY, 1505′s, all are shortcuts to explain something larger. Jesus was very fond of parables, using them as a primary technique to share truths about the Kingdom of God. His symbols were really interesting and most often items from daily life: yeast, mustard seed, farmer sowing a crop, buried treasure, a planted grain of seed, a father and son, wheat, a house, coins, bread, birds and flowers, all those and more used to compare the simple with the profound. Many were about the Grace of God, some about the Kingdom and a number about the Judgment of God.
When asked directly by his disciples about why he used parables so often, Jesus said he used them because:
‘You’ve been given insight into God’s Kingdom. You know how it works. Not everybody has this gift, this insight; it hasn’t been given to them. Whenever someone has a ready heart for this, the insights and understanding flow freely. But if there is no readiness, any trace of receptivity soon disappears. That’s why I tell stories: to create readiness, to nudge the people toward receptive insight. In their present state they can stare till doomsday and not see it, listen till they’re blue in the face and not get it. I don’t want Isaiah’s forecast repeated all over again:
Your ears are open but you don’t hear a thing.
Your eyes are awake but you don’t see a thing.
The people are blockheads! They stick their fingers in their ears so they don’t have to listen;
They screw their eyes shut so they won’t have to deal with Me face to face and let Me heal them. (Matthew 13: The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language by Eugene H. Peterson)
Perhaps Jesus was being a bit optimistic there about them understanding the Kingdom. However, to his disciples, in his private moments with them, Jesus did explain more than in his public ‘stories’. He, in those moments, slowly unpacked the Gospel for them, untangled the knots found in his parables for them. But at the end, even those that he had shared more of the Message with still did not understand the fullness of what was going to happen to him and for some good portion missed the big story contained in what did happen to him.
It’s amazing to me that so many words and stories contained in scriptures have been written to illustrate what seems to me is really one, single, simple Truth. Like his parables that reveal profound Truth, it seems that all of scripture is the simple process of trying to inevitably do one thing: reveal Him. In scripture, all of it considered, appears to be purposed in an attempt of God to reveal Himself to the ‘blockheads’ mentioned above. Jesus is the final word to us; He is the complete revealing. (Heb 1: 1) He is God’s (the Father, Son and Spirit’s) shout to the world ‘Who do you say I am?’ That’s the question that began in the Garden of Eden. Adam and Eve failed to answer that question correctly, scammed by the suggestion to their hearts that God was holding out on them rather than blessing them. Today, as we struggle to make a way through time with its contrast and conflicts of our lives, still the appropriate question is ‘Who do you say I am?’ Jesus’ life and words show us, express to us, how to answer that question. In Jesus we find the direct, correct image of God the Father. He is the expressed image of the Father. And thank God, now the Spirit has come to reinforce and testify of Jesus. The Spirit is here, present to reveal His Truth to us. Jesus is proof that the answer to ‘who do you say I am’ or any questions we might have is simply: Father! Jesus circles us back to Eden and gives us the Cliff Notes answer to any question for Life: God, who is Love.
The cross was an ugly, hurtful, unfair, disappointing, painful, shameful, hateful process, but it is the pathway to revealing a God that pursues us at the highest price possible. It’s a moment of Trust and Faith in the Father expressed by Jesus and an example for us to believe Father is trustworthy today also. ‘Never the less, not my will but thine’ is Jesus bold declaration of total and complete ‘knowing’ the Father. Jesus places us in the middle of the 23rd Psalm. The 23rd Psalm Father is the Father that’s been revealing Himself all along. Jesus is the complete and full unveiling that was promised from the beginning. Among the first words after His resurrection, Jesus expressed the point of his coming: “…go to my brethren, and say unto them, ‘I ascend unto my Father, and your Father, and my God, and your God.’” (John 20:17)
It was the heart of God to step into our world from the very beginning, actually before the beginning, before Adam. It was the will of God to come into all our circumstances and be present with us as we experienced the conflicts and confusions of this world. But, how was God to reveal Himself, how to show His great Love for the creature? Though a great gesture, telling of His great love, using words only, would be an incomplete gesture. Man has learned that words are not enough, words are cheap, and, because of our worldly experiences, words alone usually do not convince. However, doing Love, sending Love, showing Love, manifesting Love in the incarnation of His Son would be beyond dispute, would reveal the full commitment of God to be with men (Emmanuel). Well, except for the ‘blockheaded’.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life and there’s no other way, no other revealing, no other road to take, no other interpretation, no other knowing God except through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus the Messiah. In fact, Jesus testimony of God’s Love was the purpose of the road all along. The scriptures testify of him, the Spirit witnesses of him. To discover Christ is to discover God with all His will, desires, characteristics and purposes. The days of bone-headedness can be over for any whosoever through the enabling of the Spirit and the Spirit’s illumination of the Son of God, who is Jesus Christ!
We’ve had the pleasure of having been to Colorado a few times in the last 10 years. We stay in the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado, stay about 11,000 feet above sea level. (Our WBVN studios are 485 feet above sea level to put that in perspective.) It’s beautiful there in a way that’s truly a Colorado way. For one thing the humidity– well, there is no humidity! The sky is so blue it would shame a robin. Night skies share the same view that Abraham must have seen when God promised him all those descendants. There’s a silence at 11,000 feet that we never find at our house. There are colors reserved only for Crayola Crayon boxes. And while we always try to catch the aspen autumn and its golden/yellow perfection, in 2014 we caught the aspen autumn plus snow plus sunshine: a picture I could not have imagined in my mind until I had actually experienced it. I have over a thousand pictures of the San Juans. There is so much to see and every time we’ve been there, even in the same locations over and over, Colorado offers a different look from year to year. Of those 1000 pictures I probably stare at 50 over and over, I have them in a folder in my computer marked favorites. I actually have three or four that I think everyone in the world should see. They come as close as is possible to expressing all I can imagine or hope for in a picture of the Rockies. And yet, while all are wonderful and tell their unique story about those Colorado mountains, none of them express or say enough to really give you the feel of standing on a Jeep trail at 13,000 feet and looking from a 360 degree angle at all that surrounds you. There really is no word or words that can capture the fullness of all you see and hear there. I actually treasure each picture and re-live a lot of wonderful experiences when I view them. However, as much as I enjoy them, I’m unable to convince or create the appreciation I have for them in other people, unable to transfer the deep meaning or remembrance of a day there. Something comes up short in the transfer of that story with just my words or those pictures. The only way I can ever get someone to appreciate what I just said would be to take them there; stand them on top of Engineer Pass or Black Bear and have them actually experience what I’m talking about. Then their breath might be taken away as mine was, only then might they interpret the colors and experience those moments themselves. All that to say this, God in His Wisdom, understood the same thing about His beauty, His Grace, His Unconditional Love that’s why: Jesus!
I will often sit at my desk looking at those pictures and think about how beautiful they are, how pleased I am with their representation of what we’ve experienced there. But, at the same time I know I am looking at something that, no matter how terrific they are, they come up a bit short. Our language, like our pictures, can’t fully or adequately capture the full beauty of God. There’s a reference in the Bible that there are not enough books, not enough libraries to contain all that could have been written or said about Jesus Christ. The Old Testament was a guide to a chosen people to learn and follow Yahweh, to give them a picture of God. However, we know it wasn’t a complete picture because there was a fulfilling that had to take place, something more than what had already taken place and was recorded in scripture; that fulfilling was by Christ Jesus. Words create a concept of God, give information about, help us understand more about Him, and they are anointed to help change us, to settle us, bring us from darkness to Light. However, words are not the whole story. Sure, they represent something but can never be exactly the thing they describe. Just as my Colorado pictures are not as revealing as the real thing– not just like standing on Opher Pass and looking in every direction, feeling the wind blow, feeling the air temperature, seeing a clear, hazeless blue sky and touching the weathered stone of the mountain you’re standing on. God gets that, and in response to our weaknesses to simply rely on the language of scripture, He went a step further: He made a Promise to believers to not only send His scripture letters to us, the manual of Life for us, but send the actual representation of, actual likeness of, the exact image of Himself to us and send it in the form of flesh: Jesus the revealer and the revelator of God. Scripture says no man knows the Father but the Son. Jesus himself made an outlandish statement, that if you have seen me you have seen Him, that he and the Father were one, even equally one!
‘All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knows the Son, but the Father; neither knows any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him’. (Mat 11:27-28)
In Jesus’ life we see, feel, experience the real thing about God where we live, in our own environment. Jesus came to show us what no man had ever been able to fully show. Today, Jesus is the Father’s language to us, expressing Himself to us in and through His Son. ( ‘…who at sundry times and in divers manners spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds; Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high. Heb. 1:1-3) In 1 John 5:20 scripture identifies what was the actual purpose of Jesus coming in the flesh: ‘We know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding, that we may know him that is True, and we are in Him that is True, in his Son Jesus Christ’. To know Him as He really is, revealing the exactness of Him.
Because of Jesus we have the true fingerprint of the Father. Not a man that was religious, not just wise, not only God but man with God. No more guessing or imagining, Jesus made an invisible God visible (Colossians 1), never again to be a mystery or mistaken as ‘an unknown God’. Jesus was the parting of the curtain that fully displayed the heart of God. Simply, Jesus was the specific Way to see, interpret and understand his Father. Luke 24 and John 5 both express that beginning with Moses, through all the Old Testament and the New, all scripture pointed to Jesus.
The Gospel is not a good promise for the future, not just a hope that tomorrow will be better; this is good news now, on the spot good news. Fact news, not something to be earned someday, but a gift today. John declaring in Chapter 17, ‘…this is life eternal, that they know the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent. It is finished. Now we can know Him as He wished to be revealed. Jesus Christ has done that. God showing us His opinion, His motivation and determination to be with us. Jesus is able and worthy to accurately interpret and describe the heart of God. John in Revelation 5 writes, hearing a voice behind him and turning, there was the Lamb of God, the angels ‘Saying with a loud voice, worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honor, and glory, and blessing.’ I think that pretty much covers everything, Jesus was ‘spot on’.
Our goal is simple: to encourage Christians in the truth of the Gospel. Daily encouragement is vital in anyone’s life, and being reminded of who we are in Christ is so very important.