Jesus (jee-zuhs), n. born 4 b.c., also called Jesus Christ. (also: the One who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist…For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, whether things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight… Col 1:13-22
It was over thirty years ago. A friend of mine and I worked together, both were believers in Christ. He later became the pastor of one of the churches in the area and continues to teach about Christ today. In one of our discussions, he simply said, ‘Ken, you don’t have enough Jesus in your conversations.’ I’ve thought about that, revisited that statement over the years. In some sense, there was something not true about it, but still I knew that there was something about his comment that lit a small flame in my heart, put a question in my conscience. I mean, I talked about Jesus all the time, not always by name, however, in my mind, my words always referred to him. And that was the key, right there in that statement I just made in this letter. I’ll explain later.
Over the years I migrated through listening, studying, and reading Scripture. Never was the idea of not having enough Jesus in my conversation something I wrestled or struggled with, but it was still rattling around in the back of my mind. Why had my friend said that to me? You know, some things just take a while to come into our understanding. John was 90 years old when he wrote of the Revelation of Jesus Christ. Even after walking with and talking to Jesus during Messiah’s ministry it took John a while. It was a journey for John; it should be a journey for us. We’re not ‘finished’, there is always more to discover and to be revealed to us by the Spirit of God.
It’s akin to discovering the first few verses in Hebrews: ‘God, 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…’ that produces a different conversation about Jesus if you ‘deeply’ consider that scripture.
It’s coming to the understanding that Jesus is the Father’s exact likeness, the expressed and exact image. Jesus is, by the very nature and character of God, the perfect expression of the Father’s intent to include us in the Life of God. If you will, Jesus is the perfect display of the Father’s Heart. The Cross, Death and Resurrection was always in the heart of Father, Son, Spirit. They were His Finish to redeem us, the final act of His dream to embrace us and literally be Emmanuel (God with us). They were representative of His intent to embrace us to the point of never leaving us or forsaking us, having placed us at the doorway of a new and living way, a way that permits us to come to the knowing of living and moving and having our being in Christ. That Way permits us to be in His presence, not occasionally, but in all we do!
Jesus did not come to give us a 10 point plan on how to improve ourselves, not to establish a new ethic, not a political solution, not even to compete with a new religion, but came to grant us relief for the stuff of our souls. (Our world today can’t even admit there is such a thing as ‘our souls’, let alone address or remedy something it doesn’t believe exists.) Unlike the secular psychology or religious rules, Jesus came to reveal the heart of His Father and to redeem people back to their original relationship, the original value experienced between Adam and his Creator. Actually, it’s a value that goes back even further than that because before the foundation of the world, before time and Adam existed, the Father, Son and Spirit’s hearts dreamed of you. Before being in our mother’s womb, we were in the heart of God, and His giving up on you was just not part of the plan, not the will of God.
I had a friend who carved eagles, frogs, birds, etc out of blocks of wood. When someone asked him how he did that, he replied he simply removed all that’s not eagle. That’s what Jesus has done for us. He’s removed all that is not Gospel for us, leaving us a recognizable image of the Father’s heart toward us. Simplified, His passion and love for us is shown in the incarnation of His Son. God revealed His will and nature in a person, revealed Truth and Life in Jesus Christ. Jesus led us to where He is and set up shop with us. The price paid for us was so high, so deep, that it’s not so fragile you never know what to expect next. The Author and Finisher of Faith is without shadow or turning; the same yesterday, today and will be the same forever. How can we think of such a Faith for us? I think it’s buried in our hearts and, like a river of living water, it bubbles up out of our being and is capable of transforming our minds. We so often think that we have to change our heads to strengthen our heart; actually, our hearts are strong in the Lord, it’s our thinking that needs redeeming by experiencing Christ in us, out of our ‘bellies’ comes evidence of God indwelling. According to John 14:20 Jesus is in the Father, Jesus is in us, we are in Him. We have inside us what we need to change our minds, not having to call Him down from heaven, but living in our hearts, waiting to be revealed by our seeking Him.
On Christmas Day in 1624, John Donne wrote … ‘God has made no degree to distinguish the seasons of His mercies. In Paradise the fruits were ripe the first minute, and in heaven it is always autumn, His mercies are ever in maturity. We ask our daily bread, and God never says you should have come yesterday. He never says you must (come) again tomorrow, but (says) today if you will hear His voice, today He will hear you.’ That expression of the Love and Character of God is seen in His Son in an ‘earth-suit’.
This salvation, this Gospel was no mistake, not a plan B. We must give Him credit for a greater Wisdom than that. In the wisdom of God, Adam and, yes, you are no mistake. The Son of God created all things on earth and in heaven. We may be alienated in our minds but Jesus came to change our idea about the Father, came to give us understanding, not leaving us as orphans but revealing Emmanuel, revealing Him with us. The same Son that created the Universe, the engineer that hung the stars, the planets, the moons, the same Creator that precisely balanced all and in Whom all is held together, created the earth at a perfect angle so that the two hemispheres could experience winter and summer at the precise same time, spun the thing like a top, circled it around a star. Had it not been so precise and had it stood up straight, New York would be 40 degree year round, Phoenix 120 and the equator would be boiling, the North and South Poles, -100 each day. That same Son engineered your salvation! Perfectly! He is able and He’s been set above all things. He is Jesus! Now that’s the Jesus part of my conversation. It’s not that all those years ago I was guilty of overestimating Jesus, it was that I was guilty of underestimating the Love, Mercy, Grace– i.e. underestimating the Engineer. There you go, Todd. You win. You were exactly right. I was guilty thirty years ago, guilty of talking about him, instead of Him! Jesus Christ, Lord of all….all!