Monday, April 13, 2015

Who Is Jesus

I was searching in the archives for something to share and remembered the article “Who Is Jesus?” which was written for The Daughters of Promise magazine last summer. 

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Image result for holding little girls hand
                                                                   Who Is Jesus?
“Who is Jesus?” we ask the little girl as she clutches her teddy bear and slides into the social worker’s car.
She looks at us with big eyes as she replies, “He is a Daddy who never leaves me or hurts me.”
“Who is Jesus?” we ask the woman as she sits in the rocking chair.
Her shaky hands put down her knitting, and her laugh rings as silver as the color of her hair. “Why, He is my Beloved. He loves me when I am lonely.”
“Who is Jesus?” we ask the beaten young woman as we gaze at her through the bars.
She closes her eyes and whispers, “He is a Deliverer from evil and Strength in my weakness.”

“Who is Jesus?” we ask you. There is no way to avoid the question. Jesus has been a topic of conversation, ground for debate, and spark of discussion for over two-thousand years. Jesus is one of the key points that separate Christianity from other religions. What is it about Jesus that makes Him so unlike anyone this world has ever known? Why is He mentioned over nine-hundred times in the Bible? What is it about this name that people are and were willing to suffer rejection from family and friends, journey into dangerous parts of the world, give their lives at the stake, and endure torture, starvation, and imprisonment?
 We have heard Him preached in sermons, taught in sunday-school lessons, and sung in hymns. We can recite the story- Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth as a baby, was crucified, rose from the grave after three days, ascended into Heaven, and is coming back at the end of the world to judge the saved and unsaved. We may even be apologetic professionals and know all the proofs that support Jesus- things like early and accurate manuscripts, fluent and extensive Gospels, fulfilled prophecies, eyewitnesses, an empty tomb, followers willing to suffer martyrdom….

Simple, right? Isn’t that all we need to know? No! We need to REALLY understand Who Jesus Is because that is what makes the dramatic difference in how and why we live our lives. Jesus is a fascinating combination of Deity and Humanity who longs to be in a personal relationship with us.
 From the beginning of time, we have record of Jesus (Genesis 1:26). Jesus was there the entire time, because He was the Son of God. He was living in full majestic power and glory, and things were going well at the beginning of the earth’s birth. The Deity had created the perfect masterpiece. There was not a flaw of pain, hurt, abuse, hate, or sin to be found—- but then, the human race changed all of that.

Imagine spending long hours sewing a new shirt for Johnny to wear for his birthday party at Grandma and Grandpa’s. Saturday morning, as you help him button up the shirt, you warn him not to get dirty because there will be consequences. Later, you find Johnny hiding in the corner of the barn. His new shirt is torn and smeared where he had attempted to clean off mud with a rag. He hangs his head and cries, “Mommy, I’m sorry. I didn’t know I would get dirty while I was playing.” You shake your head; he would have to suffer the consequences. But yet, amidst your anger, you feel such love for your little boy, love that prompts you to give him another chance. You put Johnny to work at some extra chores and sit down at the sewing machine once again. Your eyes are tired, and your fingers hurt; but you get another new shirt made. Johnny gets the chores done in enough time to go to the party, but you are left at home. You missed the party in his place, because the extra time spent sewing meant the bread for Sunday’s potluck was still not baked.

That is what Jesus did, but to a much greater degree! He saw the hopeless state of eternal death and misery that sin had put us in and chose to take our punishment. Mankind waited for this prophesied Messiah to set them free, but they could not fathom the degree of His love. They expected to see Him in His full Divinity because He was a King (Is. 33:22), Redeemer (Job 19:25), Emmanuel (Is. 7:14), and Prince of Peace (Is. 9:6).
They waited; but they missed Jesus’ arrival, because the Galaxy-Spinner and Star-Twirler had traded Heaven for earth. He had left power, glory, and beautiful harmony for a decaying planet, reeking of hate and sin. The angels must have gasped in disbelief. Kings do not walk with publicans and sinners. Kings are addressed by “Your Majesty “, not simply as a Child (Luke 2:43), Carpenter (Mark 6:3), Prophet (Mark 8:28), and Teacher (Math. 19:16).

Jesus was human, but He was still divine. However, that does not mean that He was lifted above the struggles and pains of humanity. He was flesh; He felt the same joys, pains, fears, and even temptations that we feel (Hebrews 2:18). He came as a baby, grew up as a child, and experienced the adolescent years. He was subject to His parents and honored His elders. Jesus had to wait thirty years until it was His time to fulfill his mission. However, He did not simply wait; He worked, served, and learned during that time.

Jesus was a complete stranger without a home, support, church, or family to fall back upon for refreshment and support (Luke 9:58). Even the circle of friends He did have were not there when He truly needed them, and one “faithful follower” betrayed Him for a few pieces of silver.
Jesus fully knew what He would have to suffer. Do you wonder if He ever lay awake at night, tossing and turning as He realized that each day only brought Him closer to His execution? In His final hours, He pleaded with God to work out another plan, but there was no other way. He wanted someone to be there with Him; but everyone was too tired, too scared, or too ashamed. “…Then all the disciples forsook Him, and fled” (Math. 26:56b KJV). He was arrested like a criminal and faced trial. He was scourged and marred beyond recognition. He had only done good and helped people, yet a murderer was chosen for release over Him. The very people He was dying for screamed, “Crucify him!” The soldiers drove spikes through His wrists and feet. He was mocked and spit upon, and the weight of the world’s sin came down upon Him. The Lamb, a perfect sacrifice, had taken on humanity’s soiled garments and was dying alone.

We think Jesus was a superhero whose powers kept Him aloof from the full pain of betrayal, mockery, torture, and loneliness; but although divine, He was also human. He felt every curse, every hammer’s blow, and every whip’s lash.
Then Jesus died, but it was not over. He had entered death for our sakes. The world had given up on Him because they thought He was merely a man. They forgot that Jesus was the Son of God. But three days later, Jesus proved that the power of His Deity and Humanity had conquered death and saved the world. Before returning to His Father’s side, He left His followers with the promise to return and show all mankind His true Deity. “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God: and they that hear shall live.  For as the Father hath life in Himself; so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself; And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Marvel not at this: for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, And shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation” (John 5:25-29 KJV).

         Knowing Who Jesus Is takes more than facts and knowledge, it takes a relationship. Most religious founders tried to turn themselves into gods so they would be not be a man and relate to us on our level; the Son of God became a man so that He could enter into a relationship with us. There is something beautiful about Jesus on this level.

What does He mean to us personally as women? Watch as He takes the children into His arms (Mark 10:16), see as He saves the adulterous woman about to be stoned (John 8:7), look at His love for Mary as she anoints His feet (Luke 7:44), listen as He takes time to speak with an outcast woman at the well (John 4), and glance at the scene of Him healing the woman who had suffered for so many years (Luke 13:11-13). Jesus does not view us as inferior or unworthy because we are women. “There is neither Jew nor Greek…bond nor free…male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:28 KJV). Jesus’ first recorded miracle was done for His mother’s sake, He chose women to be the announcers of the empty tomb, and it was a woman who first saw Him after the resurrection.

 Just pay attention to His love. Read through the Gospels and notice how many times it says that He was “moved with compassion”. One of the most powerful prayers recorded is the one Jesus prayed for us in His final hours. “I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which Thou hast given Me; for they are Thine. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to Thee. Holy Father, keep through Thine own name those whom Thou hast given me, that they may be one, as We are. I pray not that Thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that Thou shouldest keep them from the evil. Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word; Father, I will that they also, whom Thou hast given me, be with Me where I am…” (John 17: 9, 11, 15, 20, 24a KJV).

Jesus is our Bridegroom because we long to be chosen, our Hope because we face doubt and depression, our Light because we stumble in the dark, our Father because we long for our hand to be held by a Protector, our Ransom because we were a slave in Satan’s district, and our High Priest because our sin needed forgiven.

Right now, Satan is hurling accusations against us as he tries to drag us back into his realm. But Jesus looks at us and says, “She is Mine. She is My Bride, My Daughter, My Beloved. I purchased her with My blood. She was ugly and unlovely, but I chose her anyways. See her now; she shines in radiance and beauty because she has loved Me in return. You may not have her because I am Jesus- her Advocate (1 John 2:1), Mediator (1 Tim. 2:5), and Faithful Witness (Rev. 1:5-6).
Knowing Who Jesus Is will be something we are constantly discovering, because He is an indescribable majestic combination of Son of God and Son of Man. Jesus is what gives us women purpose, meaning, strength, and courage for life as He walks beside us every day in a personal relationship. “For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 8:38-39 KJV).