Saturday after Ash Wednesday
“Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.” (1 John 4:8, ESV)
It might seem strange that Jesus is not at the top of the list. We are four days into this series, and we are now just getting to Jesus. But the truth is that it has all been about Jesus. Jesus is the object of our faith, the source or our hope, and the definition of love. Without Jesus our faith is in vain, hope is baseless, and love is absent.
The Real Jesus
The real Jesus of the Bible is often a different Jesus than the one we envision. We choose the Jesus of our liking. We choose the Jesus who:
- is my best friend.
- invites children to come sit on his lap.
- helps me in times of trouble.
- gives me inspiration to be all I can be.
- motivates me when I need courage.
Jesus is all of these things, but you need to know he is more. There is the Jesus that comforts us, but there is also the Jesus that confronts us.
When we read the Gospels, Jesus was far more radical and revolutionary than most of us dare to see. His preaching was not always filled with warm fuzzies that made people feel content. He was fiery. He made people squirm. As many people who wanted to praise him, there were just as many who want to crucify him.
Jesus confronted sin. He was indignant and rebuked the disciples when they refused the little children to come to him (Mark 10:14). He overturned the tables of the moneychangers in the temple after braiding a whip (John 2:15-17). He called the Pharisees a “brood of vipers” (Matthew 12:34). He used imagery of fire and brimstone. He didn’t preach that all people would go to heaven, but that some were destined to eternal punishment in hell (Matthew 5:29-30). Jesus was not always the nice Sunday School Jesus that he is made out to be.
Jesus was divisive. In 1 Peter 2:8 Jesus is described as “a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” And Jesus himself said: “Do you think that I have come to give peace on earth? No, I tell you, but rather division.” (Luke 12:51, ESV)
Jesus tells us that if we are to follow him that it means denying ourselves and taking up our cross (Matthew 16:24). When the rich young man asked Jesus what must he do, Jesus told him to sell all his possession and give it away to the poor (Luke 18:22). When Peter asked Jesus if he should forgive up to seven times, Jesus said that not just seven times, but 77 times (Matthew 18:21). Jesus made it clear it is not easy to follow him, and there is a cost to discipleship.
The Jesus of the Bible will stretch us and challenge us beyond what we believe to be reasonable. More people turned away from following Jesus than followed. There were the crowds, but by the end, there were just a handful of followers. Most had deserted him. Most had gone back home. By the time we get to the cross, even closest friends had deserted (Mark 14:51-52) and denied him (John 18:27).
Jesus is More
Your relationship with God stand or falls on your relationship with Jesus. Jesus has come that we would know God and live in relationship with God. If you don’t know Jesus, you don’t know God (John 14:6).
When we encounter the real Jesus of the Bible, it is more difficult yet more amazing all at the same time. I come to realize that I am more depraved and desperate than I ever realized. The real Jesus confronts my sin in a way that makes me uncomfortable. I am not a good person who needs a little bit of extra help from time to time. I am a beggar with nothing to offer before the Almighty God who only deserves his everlasting punishment.
Still, God’s grace is greater than I ever imagined. It reaches further than I could have ever hoped. It meets me where I am. I am more broken, but it is through that brokenness I discover a fix that is more wonderful than anything else I have ever tried. Jesus is my Savior. He is my all in all.
- How does Jesus most comfort you?
- How does Jesus most confront you?
- Pray asking for Jesus to reveal himself in all his fullness.