Do we really understand who Jesus is?
Nigel Fox asks if we have an adequate view of Jesus as He is, and challenges some of our pre-conceptions.
I guess I’m not alone in having been tutored as a child in bedtime prayer that used a verse from Wesley’s hymn: “Gentle Jesus, meek and mild”. But it has left me wondering whether that offers us the best mental picture of Jesus.
Seriously, do we have a clear and full picture of the One we profess to follow, or is it limited? Has our view of Jesus been conditioned by our experiences and perhaps fashioned around the way we express our faith in Him? Is it complete?
I find a lovely insight comes from C S Lewis, in a conversation when Mr. Beaver tells Susan that Aslan (ruler of Narnia) is a great lion. Susan is surprised, since she assumed Aslan was a man. She then tells Mr. Beaver, “I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion.” She asks Mr. Beaver if Aslan is safe, to which Mr. Beaver replies, “Safe? Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King.” (from “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe”)
The gospels clearly depict Jesus in His humanity with a wide range of emotions, eg: thirst, hunger, tiredness, frustration, pity and being moved with compassion, love… although He also displays anger while cleansing the Temple. Some have tried to downplay this single event as a ‘one-off’, as if out-of-character, but it does point to a serious zeal (John 2:17) for an open house to facilitate prayer (eg Isa.56:7).
So, how should we view Jesus? Is our mental image and hence our understanding of Jesus as clear as it could be? Or, just as we once adjusted an old TV aerial, might we need to readjust how we view the Lord Jesus?
Throughout His life and ministry, Jesus was full of compassion and mercy. We are struck by the sheer goodness and kindness of Him as He is so full of grace. We can see His ministry as fulfilling God’s purposes in terms of Prophet, Priest and King. He speaks God’s words; He administers God’s blessing and He rules over God’s Kingdom. He is Lord.
Introduced as, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29), we know Jesus fulfils this in God-given destiny through His death upon the cross, and He is our Saviour. We also know that He was raised from the dead. As risen and ascended Lord, we believe Him to be at God’s right hand upon the Throne. He is our High Priest on high.
As His people, we are to be His “kingdom of priests” on earth (Ex.19:6, Rev.1:6 & 5:10). But do we have the guts to be His priests? It took sheer guts to obey a distasteful command qualified the tribe of Levi in the first place (e.g. Ex.32:25-29 and Num.25:10-13). I also read that Jesus requires loving obedience of His disciples (John 14:15). Are we ready to obey?
I’m stirred to ask if we really have a clear picture. Our view of ‘Jesus as He now is’ may need clarifying. It has serious implications for the here and now and for what is to come.
Image by Robert Greene from Pixabay
Nigel Fox has served as a Methodist Minister since the mid-1980s, including 15 years since 2002 in Norwich, largely at Wroxham Road and with the Chinese Church. He still preaches frequently, but is now 'retired' and enjoys more time with his four children and eight grandchildren.
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