Hello friends! I hope you had a great Summer and are all set to have a warm Autumn :)
This month I was reading a book by Philip Yancey titled 'The Jesus I Never Knew'. I got this book online as part of a deal. I was getting it for only £1 as long as I was buying another book. Never one to turn down a good deal (especially when it means I can have another book) I picked up 'The Jesus I Never Knew' secretly thinking it would have little to contribute to my life at the moment.
Now, I am a preacher and so Jesus means a lot to me.
I am someone who tries his very best to follow Jesus and teach about Him, so I am familiar with His power, His strength, His care for us and His love.
I am well aware of all of the things that Jesus did and the things that He said and I am well aware that He has sent me on a mission, as He does every Christian.
Or at least so I had thought.
As I read through Yancey's book I found myself travelling the same road as he himself had travelled in his early twenties; who was Jesus?
You see although I knew about Jesus I had stopped learning about Him when I thought I knew enough. I had formed a picture of God in the form of man and stopped thinking.
When I thought of the Jesus I know did He have blonde hair like Yancey's Jesus. Well no. But then again, neither do I. My Jesus had long, dark hair and a beard. He had deep hazel eyes and a long, flowing robe.
And sandals. Jesus always wore sandals.
I realised that I had become comfortable with my view of Jesus and had turned Him into a picture postcard. A kind of exaggerated version of all the things I like.
'I know He isn't blonde' I'd think to myself smugly while simultaneously I was giving Jesus jet black hair and making Him 6ft tall.
'I know He wasn't white' I thought happily as I gave my Jesus olive skin like a Spaniard in Spring.
'He was Arabic' I said matter of factly, hoping to sound vaguely impressive, while picturing Max von Sydow walking through a crowd of Arabs.
Isaiah 53:2-3 read;
He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
and like a root out of dry ground.
He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him,
nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.
He was despised and rejected by mankind,
a man of suffering, and familiar with pain.
Like one from whom people hide their faces
He was despised, and we held Him in low esteem.
This is only description we have of the Christ in our Scriptures and yet I had formed conclusions from pictures, movies and books. And I had come up with a Jesus that I liked, that was comfortable, that I did not have to think too hard about.
Yancey's book had brought God in human form sharply back into focus for me. I was once again confronted with the idea of God taking on the form of a real man and feeling the pains of a real man. His pain was not lessened because He was God incarnate. Jesus having His mission in mind did not soothe His pain. The miracles were even more amazing seeing them done by a supposedly ordinary man.
I realised that I had learned what I thought was enough of Jesus and remained comfortable.
Jesus's pain had become distant, His words somehow belonged to a quasi-stranger and His actions seemed like so many other points in history, unconnected from my life.
But, not anymore...
All of a sudden the world of Jesus was opened up to me anew and I devoured the Gospel accounts again, picturing this seemingly ordinary Jewish man doing extraordinary things. I pictured His tanned, calloused hands reaching out to those who needed healing. I pictured His dry, cracked lips speaking words, words that are common phrases today, for the very first time. I saw Him cry in the arms of His mother. I saw Him weep by the tomb of His friend, Lazarus. I saw a God who cared about me, who wept like me, who hungered like me, who tired like me, who looked and felt awkward sometimes when people looked at Him. I saw a God who suffered pain, emotional and physical, so much that He did not think He could stand it. And I saw a God who went through this all for me...
All of a sudden God seemed infinitely more human.
And at the same time infinitely more deity.
In the person of Jesus perfect love and perfect power meet and love become the base of our relationship with God. He knows what it is like to be you now, He's been there. He faced pain and death and won. And, in spite of all His power and strength, He cares for you.
So much so that He gave you a path out of death that leads directly to Him.
Have you formed a picture of Jesus and just forgotten Him?
Have you become comfortable with your own version of the Christ?
Perhaps it is time to rethink and search for what He wants you to know one more time.
You never know it could be more than you ever thought you could have.
You could know Jesus all over again ...