There was a time, as I was advancing through seminary training, when I had turned Jesus into a doctrine in my mind. When I look back now, it’s almost hard to believe, but I turned Jesus into little more than the truths I had learned about Him. To be sure, they were great truths, and the truth sets the captives free. I’m a lot older and a little bit smarter now; I thank God He gave me the grace to see Jesus as more than a doctrine . . . more than a Presbyterian too!
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life—the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifesto us—that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:1-3)
Wow! John said He and the other disciples had heard, seen, and even touched the incarnate Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Clearly, Jesus was more than a doctrine to them as they enjoyed fellowship with Jesus—and through Him, fellowship with His Father in heaven. He walked with them. He talked with them. He ate with them. He served with them. He did all of this so that He could identify with us in every way, even in our suffering.
[Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:17-18)
Personally, I find it far easier to receive a Jesus who is Lord and Savior, walking on water, healing the sick, restoring sight to the blind, turning water into wine, and raising the dead to life. But a Jesus who suffered, who was lonely, and even fearful? Yet, this is what we see in His life and death. A Jesus who is able to sympathize with our weaknesses? A doctrine could never do that. A theological proposition could never identify with us in any respect. Yet this is what Jesus has done for us.
Jesus faced every one of our temptations: the temptation for self-rule, self-absorption, self-centeredness, self-confidence, and self-focus—and every sin that is bound up in all of these, yet He was without sin (John 8:46, Hebrews 4:15). He battled temptation in the wilderness. He battled temptation in Gethsemane. He battled temptation on the cross. Yet He never once yielded, because of His commitment to those whom He was born to die for. The person of Jesus Christ is a source of unimaginable comfort for every child born of grace.
So . . . the next time you find yourself smack dab in the middle of a storm or a wilderness experience, remember the person of Jesus Christ and His finished work He completed for you. Knowing that the Word of God became flesh and “tabernacled” among us for the perfect amount of time is to know enough to get us through anything we are facing. Along the way, let us remember these words from our Lord, Savior, and Best Friend.
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.
Jesus was equal to, yet distinct from the Father, and He refused to consider His glory as something to be clutched at selfishly (Philippians 2:6-7). Jesus emptied himself by becoming a man, but not just any man. He became the God-man, the Servant of the Lord, the new and better Second Adam who chose to identify with sinful man, yet without sin, to one day remake man sinless forevermore.
This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!