How big is your Jesus?

I grew up in a Greek Orthodox home and had a very specific idea and understanding of who Jesus is.  In my own mind and understanding He was a far off, inaccessible, pasty, insipid, white looking fellow with a beard and very sad eyes and a golden halo around His head. Now I am not inferring that this is a Greek Orthodox perspective of Jesus, it was just my own.  I remember many year later, I was sitting in a Vineyard service at Hillside Vineyard Church and Costa Mitchell was preaching.  He described his understanding of Jesus.  He said, “My Jesus is a well-built guy, wearing Levi Jeans, Nike’s takkies and a golf shirt. I was shocked!  How irreverent!  It was a journey for me to discover that I could have a personal relationship with Jesus and just Who He is.  There was a revolution in my heart and mind as I began to understand more and more about this Jesus.  About who He is.powerful-waves3

Do you know who He is? Do you know how big Jesus is?  I am on a journey through the gospel of John with our community of faith at Willow Hill and John records the following: The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the one I meant when I said, 'A man who comes after me has surpassed me because he was before me.' I myself did not know him, but the reason I came baptizing with water was that he might be revealed to Israel." Then John gave this testimony: "I saw the Spirit come down from heaven as a dove and remain on him. I would not have known him, except that the one who sent me to baptize with water told me, 'The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.' I have seen and I testify that this is the Son of God." The next day John was there again with two of his disciples.  When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, "Look, the Lamb of God!" (1:29-36 NIV)

There are three aspects of Jesus that John highlights here:

Firstly, we read of Jesus as the Son of God. The reality of this is confirmed in other places in the Gospels such as Matthew 3:17 - And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." (NIV) And Matthew 17:5 - But while Peter was still speaking, a radiant cloud composed of light spread over them, enveloping them all. And God’s voice suddenly spoke from the cloud, saying, “This is my dearly loved Son, the constant focus of my delight. Listen to him!”(TPT)

Jesus is the Son of the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, He is the Son of the great ‘I Am’!

Secondly, we see Jesus as the Lamb of God which is explained on so well in 1 Peter, “For you know that your lives were ransomed once and for all from the empty and futile way of life handed down from generation to generation. It was not a ransom payment of silver and gold, which eventually perishes, but the precious blood of Christ—who like a spotless, unblemished lamb was sacrificed for us. This was part of God’s plan, for he was chosen and destined for this before the foundation of the earth was laid, but he has been made manifest in these last days for you. (1:18-20 TPT) Jesus while being the Son of God was ransomed, He was given as a sacrifice that you may be saved from an empty and futile way of life, and in order that you may be reconciled with the Father.

Thirdly, we see Jesus as the One who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.  As Christians we are called to Gods mission on this earth and we need to be empowered for this mission.  What does the mission look like?

Jesus lays out the mission clearly in the gospel of Matthew, “Yet through it all, this joyful assurance of the realm of heaven’s kingdom will be proclaimed all over the world, providing every nation with a demonstration of the reality of God…” (24:14 TPT) Do you see it? Proclamation and Demonstration of the kingdom.

Our mission is to proclaim the fact that the world needs to know about the Messiah. As the Son of God, the Messiah that is so different.  He that brings a new message, a message of God's love—a love so strong that it proclaims the truth:

The truth that humanity is sinful and dying and decaying - "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16

The truth that humanity must repent - On hearing this, Jesus said to them, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners." Mark 2:17

The truth that humanity must prepare, for the kingdom of God is at hand - From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." Mat 4:17

All these absolute truths are not very popular in today’s day and age because people do not believe in absolutes anymore.  For me, this is why the demonstration is so very important.  We are called to put Jesus on display.  How do we do that? Jesus gives lays out our mission to put Him on display in Matthew, “You must continually bring healing to lepers and to those who are sick, and make it your habit to break off the demonic presence from people, and raise the dead back to life. Freely you have received the power of the kingdom, so freely release it to others. (10:8 TPT)

Obviously, we can’t do this on our own.  We need to be empowered for this mission.  Who will empower us? John said it in the text we read earlier, “The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is he who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.” Luke records Jesus’ words on how we will be empowered and to what purpose in the book of ActsBut I promise you this—the Holy Spirit will come upon you and you will be seized with power. And you will be my messengers to Jerusalem, throughout Judea, the distant provinces—even to the remotest places on earth!” (1:8 TPT)

As you read these words do you still see Jesus as that placid, inaccessible, limp Sunday School Jesus who is meek and mild?  Hopefully you are beginning to realize that this Jesus you had in your mind is different?  Do you know Who He truly is?  How big your Jesus truly is?  The fact that Jesus is the Son of God, the Lamb of God and that He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit should transform some of your thinking?  It should impact your life, your actions and your deeds.  

I wonder if you have been trying to fit this Jesus into an old way of thinking and understanding?  I am reminded of His words to us, “Neither do men pour new wine into old wineskins. If they do, the skins will burst, the wine will run out and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins, and both are preserved." (Mat 9:17 NIV) Jesus doesn’t fit into your old religious system.  He can’t be contained in the wineskin of worn-out tradition. Jesus is new, exhilarating and powerful.  He makes our hearts and lives new.  Jesus didn’t come to reform religion but to form you!

Are we so comfortable with our inaccessible, insipid, limp, Religious Instruction, Sunday school Jesus that we could not even consider that there may be more to this Christian life?  Like that old jersey or shoes that are just so comfortable that we would not consider buying new ones and refuse to throw the old ones out? Everything has changed with Jesus coming into this world.  Could it be time to understand just Who He is, how big He is?  And perhaps there is a new way of relating to this Jesus. Or is our understanding of Jesus and our religious practices more important than our relationship with the real Jesus? Do you know who He is? Do you know how big Jesus is? 

Here are the words from that famous sermon “Seven Way King” (aka That’s My King) as spoken by Dr. S.M. Lockridge many years ago.  Why not slowly read and reflect on them?

My King was born King. The Bible says He’s a Seven Way King. He’s the King of the Jews - that’s an Ethnic King. He’s the King of Israel - that’s a National King. He’s the King of righteousness. He’s the King of the ages. He’s the King of Heaven. He’s the King of glory. He’s the King of kings and He is the Lord of lords. Now that’s my King.

Well, I wonder if you know Him. Do you know Him? Don’t try to mislead me. Do you know my King? David said the Heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork. My King is the only one of whom there are no means of measure that can define His limitless love. No far seeing telescope can bring into visibility the coastline of the shore of His supplies. No barriers can hinder Him from pouring out His blessing.

He’s enduringly strong. He’s entirely sincere. He’s eternally steadfast. He’s immortally graceful. He’s imperially powerful. He’s impartially merciful. That’s my King. He’s God’s Son. He’s the sinner’s Saviour. He’s the centerpiece of civilization. He stands alone in Himself. He’s honest. He’s unique. He’s unparalleled. He’s unprecedented. He’s supreme. He’s pre-eminent. He’s the grandest idea in literature. He’s the highest personality in philosophy. He’s the supreme problem in higher criticism. He’s the fundamental doctrine of historic theology. He’s the carnal necessity of spiritual religion. That’s my King.

He’s the miracle of the age. He’s the superlative of everything good that you choose to call Him. He’s the only one able to supply all our needs simultaneously. He supplies strength for the weak. He’s available for the tempted and the tried. He sympathizes, and He saves. He’s the Almighty God who guides and keeps all his people. He heals the sick. He cleanses the lepers. He forgives sinners. He discharged debtors. He delivers the captives. He defends the feeble. He blesses the young. He serves the unfortunate. He regards the aged. He rewards the diligent and He beautifies the meek. That’s my King.

Do you know Him? Well, my King is a King of knowledge. He’s the wellspring of wisdom. He’s the doorway of deliverance. He’s the pathway of peace. He’s the roadway of righteousness. He’s the highway of holiness. He’s the gateway of glory. He’s the master of the mighty. He’s the captain of the conquerors. He’s the head of the heroes. He’s the leader of the legislatures. He’s the overseer of the overcomers. He’s the governor of governors. He’s the prince of princes. He’s the King of kings and He’s the Lord of lords. That’s my King.

His office is manifold. His promise is sure. His light is matchless. His goodness is limitless. His mercy is everlasting. His love never changes. His Word is enough. His grace is sufficient. His reign is righteous. His yoke is easy, and His burden is light. I wish I could describe Him to you … but He’s indescribable. That’s my King. He’s incomprehensible, He’s invincible, and He is irresistible.

I’m coming to tell you this, that the heavens of heavens can’t contain Him, let alone some man explain Him. You can’t get Him out of your mind. You can’t get Him off of your hands. You can’t outlive Him and you can’t live without Him. The Pharisees couldn’t stand Him, but they found out they couldn’t stop Him. Pilate couldn’t find any fault in Him. The witnesses couldn’t get their testimonies to agree about Him. Herod couldn’t kill Him. Death couldn’t handle Him and the grave couldn’t hold Him. That’s my King.

He always has been and He always will be. I’m talking about the fact that He had no predecessor and He’ll have no successor. There’s nobody before Him and there’ll be nobody after Him. You can’t impeach Him and He’s not going to resign. That’s my King! That’s my King!

Thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory. Well, all the power belongs to my King. We’re around here talking about black power and white power and green power, but in the end all that matters is God’s power. Thine is the power. Yeah. And the glory. We try to get prestige and honor and glory for ourselves, but the glory is all His. Yes. Thine is the Kingdom and the power and glory, forever and ever and ever and ever. How long is that? Forever and ever and ever and ever… And when you get through with all of the ever’s, then …Amen!

This Jesus didn’t come to reform religion, He came to form you!  He is the Son of God, the Lamb of God, He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit. Could it be as you read this there needs to be a revolution in your heart and mind as to Who He truly is?

Who am I you may ask

As I look at the news, social media, movies, and sitcoms, it seems to me that people truly struggle with their identity.  Who am I?  Movies are often a reflection of our society.  Cast Away, Life of Pi, Cinderella Man, Eat Pray Love, A beautiful Mind, The Pursuit of Happiness, Forest Gump, Good Will Hunting and more.

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A review on the movie, ‘Three colors blue’ said, “Human connections persistently stalk Julie in ways she couldn’t help but let her muffled emotions and desires flow off as her eventual realization of human connectedness and love proves to be a gateway into her own self.”  - Another review of the movie ‘Into the Wild’ It is a beautiful, poignant, thought-provoking tale of self-discovery; one that every human being on this earth must watch before he dies. However, when we try to take this journey of self-discovery without the original manuscript as our guide we so often lose ourselves completely.  The following poem by Faigie Rabin describes so where so many people find themselves in this journey of self-discovery.

Who Am I?

Who am I you may well ask
I really wish I knew
If I am not myself at all
Then maybe I am you
To discover who I really am
Is really quite a task
Maybe I am someone else
Who wears a funny mask
I strive so hard to know myself
To discover the “real me”
My thoughts and feelings all confused
Yet still I cannot see
What makes me tick?
What makes me feel?
So very special and unique
My purpose in this glorious world
Is what I truly seek

Let’s turn to the original manuscript and look at the Gospel of John.  We all want to live true to ourselves and be all that God has called us to be. To live into our purpose in this glorious world, isn’t that what we truly seek? John the Baptist is a dynamic example for every single one of us who call ourselves Christians.

John 1:19-28 This was the testimony of John when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John whether he claimed to be the Messiah.  (20)  He flatly denied it. "I am not the Messiah," he said.  (21)  "Well then, who are you?" they asked. "Are you Elijah?" "No," he replied." Are you the Prophet?”. "No."  (22)  "Then who are you? Tell us, so we can give an answer to those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?"  (23)  John replied in the words of Isaiah: "I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, 'Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord's coming!'"  (24)  Then those who were sent by the Pharisees (25) asked him, "If you aren't the Messiah or Elijah or the Prophet, what right do you have to baptize?"  (26)  John told them, "I baptize with water, but right here in the crowd is someone you do not know, (27) who will soon begin his ministry. I am not even worthy to be his slave."  (28)  This incident took place at Bethany, a village east of the Jordan River, where John was baptizing.

John was questioned by the religious leaders who were very suspicious of him. These religious leaders were a fact-finding commission sent from Jerusalem, the headquarters of Jewish religion. The questioning of John by the religious leaders was to be expected, because John's father, Zechariah, was a priest; and in the eyes of the authorities all the sons of priests were automatically priests by descent.

Frustrated by his denials that he was the Christ, Elijah, or the Prophet, the Jewish leaders asked who he was! They were under orders to determine his identity and report to their superiors. If John was none of these three identifiable prophets, then who was he? John, however was not a priest like other priests. He was most unusual, for the way he lived and preached was radically different. We read just how different John was in the Gospel of Matthew.

Mat 3:1-4 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea (2) and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."  (3)  This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'"  (4)  John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.

John was a non-conformist, and the authorities had to find out why. Three times he was asked the question, “Who are you?” He knew who He was.  He was a voice shouting in the wilderness, 'Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord's coming! And the world needed to know about the Messiah. As the Son of God, the Messiah would be so different.  The Messiah was to bring a new message, a message of God's love—a love so strong that it would proclaim the truth.

If I ask you who you are, do you know?  As a Christian is it any different today?  If we know who we are in Christ, whether we are gardeners or doctors, cooks or nurses, accountants or builders, pastors or painters; Is our first and foremost identity not in Jesus.  And if it is in Jesus that should inform our lives, actions, words and every aspect of our lives.

Do you want to discover who you truly are, serve Jesus. But Andrew, we live in a world with rampant poverty and hunger, warring nations and civil wars.  There are 68 million refugees. Who can say as the Psalmist did, “God is good” and pray “The earth is full of the goodness of the Lord”? Only an idiot, in the eyes of the world.  In our despair, we are drawn to those with charisma and persuasive speeches and a proven record of results. We look to who the world perceives as successful and seek answers there. People like Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, and Barak Obama! But do they truly have the answer to who you are?

I hear the same arguments repeatedly, “Faith” is foolishness. If Christianity hasn’t “worked” for 2000 years, how can we still believe? People continue to demand proof that God exists, and that Jesus guarantees a strategy of “faith” that will fix our world. Have you not heard these phrases or a version of them? “Only a fool would follow Christ; Jesus is just a crutch for those who can’t face real life.  Christianity is for the gullible, those easily duped, the naïve.”?

Let’s press further into the original manuscript and look at another well-known personality in scripture, Paul.  We read the following in his letter to the church in Corinth.

1Co 1:17-25 For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel--not with words of human wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power.  (18)  For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.  (19)  For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate."  (20)  Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?  (21)  For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe.  (22)  Jews demand miraculous signs and Greeks look for wisdom, (23) but we preach Christ crucified: a stumbling block to Jews and foolishness to Gentiles, (24) but to those whom God has called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.  (25)  For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength.

Can you hear that the spirit of this world has not changed?  “Christ is foolishness to those who are perishing…”  I love what General Omar Bradley said, "We have grasped the mystery of the atom and rejected the Sermon on the Mount ... The world has achieved brilliance without conscience. Ours is a world of nuclear giants and ethical infants."

Do you want to know who you are as a Christian?  You find out who you are when you serve Jesus.  While the world sees this as foolishness, who would you rather follow, base your life on and emulate? Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Barak Obama or Jesus Christ?

I have taken the following and paraphrased some of it from Deborah Belka who wrote, “Who am I in Christ?”  Read the words slowly and carefully, allow them to sink into your heart and mind.

I am fearfully and wonderfully made,  I am His new creation,
I am chosen, I am adopted, I am a child of God, I am a child of light
I am a child of day, I am God’s clay, I am alive to God, I am destined, I am called, I am loved, I am bought with a price, I am redeemed, I am set free from sin, I am joined to the Lord, I am alive by grace, I am justified
I am forgiven, I am sanctified, I am reconciled, I am transformed, I am renewed, I am made perfect, I am dead to sin, I am a slave to righteousness, I am baptized with the Holy Spirit, I am a partner of Christ, Jesus, I am His temple, I am His building, I am His field
I am His branch, I am His follower, I am His fellow worker, I am His ambassador, I am the salt of the earth, I am the light of the world
I am sober-minded and watchful, I am armed, I am His warrior
I am His friend, I am being trained in righteousness, I am created for good works, I am a doer of the word, I am kind, I am humble, I am meek
I am patient, I am loving, I am fruitful, I am steadfast, I am gentle, I am faithful, I am never alone, I am never hungry, I am never thirsty, I am sealed for the day of redemption, I am called to eternal glory, I am the aroma of Christ to God, I am crucified with Christ, I am not ashamed
I am a sinner, I am forgiven, I am born again, and I am going to heaven!

In Christ this is who you are! Who are you without Him?

Who has the power to bring you eternal life, reconciliation with your Father in heaven, healing, wholeness, peace, love, joy, and fulness in your identity as a child of God?  While it seemed like foolishness to the religious leaders of the day when they were questioning John, while the Corinthian church also struggled with the spirit of the age. Paul addresses this subject very clearly in his letter to them.

Who are you?  You are a child of God and a kingdom agent, called to proclaim and demonstrate the Kingdom of God wherever you go. As Paul says in 1Co 2:4, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit's power…”  Do that, serve Jesus and in this journey of self-discovery you will discover who you are, who you are meant to be.  There is no better way!

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