“When the Lord saw her, his heart overflowed with compassion. ‘Don’t cry!’ he said’” (Luke 7:13, NLT).
In her book The Organic God, Margaret Feinberg talks about what she loves most about Jesus. Her answer was his beauty – the beauty of his love and the redemption he offers us through grace.
My answer is his compassion. When Jesus saw the widow of Nain crying during the funeral procession for her only son, he could have kept walking. After all, she didn’t ask him for help and she certainly wasn’t expecting a miracle. But he saw her tears, walked over to the coffin and gave her son back to her simply because his heart overflowed with compassion. How beautiful are his tears!
“Either way, Christ’s love controls us” (2 Corinthians 5:14, NLT).
Controls, urges, compels, moves, impels – these are all words used to translate constraineth (KJV), Greek (συνέχει). Control is a poor choice, as the Greek word doesn’t mean that at all, but the other translations don’t give a clear meaning either.
The concept behind this verse is the positive force of the love of Christ which kept Paul close and following him. Because of all Jesus did and meant to him, Paul knew his best choice was to leave everything behind for the absolutely priceless privilege (Philippians 3:8, AMP) of knowing him. His love does compel us, in the same way we are drawn to beauty and perfection, to no longer live for ourselves but in and for the One who died and was raised for us (2 Corinthians 5:15).
“Christ is the visible image of the invisible God” (Colossians 1:15, NLT).
A common misconception about God and Jesus is they are two radically different beings. Many read the Old Testament and believe God is mean, angry and vengeful. In the New Testament, Jesus seems kind, meek and accepting of everyone (except the Pharisees of course).
When Philip asked Jesus in John 14 to show the Father to the disciples, he said anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. From Jesus’ own lips we learn they are the same in every way. Many verses in the Psalms and other books in the OT show the loving, kind heart of the Father, but I must admit I don’t quite get all the bloodshed and violence either. If you believe Jesus and I do, we can accept what he said as true. Jesus showed us the Father and they are one.
“And the church is his body; it is made full and complete by Christ, who fills all things everywhere with himself” (Ephesians 1:23, NLT).
It’s been said if you were to find a perfect church, they wouldn’t want you. It’s sad but true that some churches only want you if you are (seem) perfect.
As the head of his church, Jesus doesn’t expect churches to be full of perfection, rather he fills and completes his body by fully living in it, which is what makes it his body in the first place. Because he fills all things everywhere with his presence, he is our perfection, the perfect one in our midst and in us.
“Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to” (Philippians 2:6, NLT).
We are a nation that believes in our rights, but it’s not just in the US – this mindset is spreading around the world, becoming a multi-generational, multi-ethnic, across-the-board problem. It’s rare to find someone willing to lay aside his or her rights and put another first.
If anyone ever had reason to hold onto his rights, it was God. Power, glory, unlimited freedom and unimaginable beauty – he gave it all up to become one of us, to subject himself to the restriction of a human body and the whims of angry, fearful people. What amazing lengths he was willing to go to for love of his creation!
“This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin” (Hebrews 4:15, NLT).
None of us can understand it, but somehow even though he was still fully God, from the moment he was conceived, Jesus was fully human. In only one way was he any different from every human who has ever lived – he lived completely in the Spirit (and we don’t quite get that either).
Because he was human, he understands everything we go through – pain, frustration, sadness, joy, wonder, temptation. He looked Satan in the eyes and felt what we feel when faced with a choice we know might not take us in the right direction. He didn’t give in because he was in the Spirit (and he was God!). He sent that same Spirit to us and because he knows what it’s like, he gets us and he helps us.
“For there is only one God and one Mediator who can reconcile God and humanity—the man Christ Jesus” (1 Timothy 2:5, NLT).
The last couple of verses of Luke 24 (50-51) tell us after Jesus appeared to the disciples he took them out to Bethany, blessed them and ascended to heaven. Most people (including me for a long time) believe he went back to the way he was before he became human, back to some indefinable, unreachable state.
But Jesus is the man as this verse in 1 Timothy says. He is still human, which is why he continues to relate to us. His humanity touches and intersects ours. He feels our pain and is moved by our tears. The God-man Jesus is not out there somewhere, out of touch with being human. His scars still show to show his love.
“In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God” (John 1:1, NLT).
Many interesting, noble and even self-sacrificial men and women throughout history have been admired, emulated and put on pedestals. Some even inspired religions. But they were all human beings, with faults, foibles and one major thing in common – they died.
If Jesus had been just a man as many claim, what would be the point of following him or even caring? Jesus was a human being but he was also God which means unlike historic figures, he’s not dead. He has existed from eternity, he was with God, he was God and through him, everything was created. He didn’t just inspire a religion, he changed the world – how could God coming to earth as a man not change the world? Jesus is God – the only “man” to follow, love, worship.
“I will bless the LORD who guides me; even at night my heart instructs me. I know the LORD is always with me. I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me” (Psalm 16:7-8, NLT).
“Be with me” or “Be with this person in their trial” are common phrases in many prayers. But we don’t have to ask God to be with us, or to come into our presence (I’m sure worship leaders mean to ask for the group to come into his presence) or to fill the room. He’s always with us, every moment, even with the ones who don’t believe in him. He doesn’t wait to be asked or released. God is always working in the lives of every human being, drawing them in, inviting them to come closer and involved in their joys and sorrows.
God has been “with us” since the beginning of time on earth. He is even more with us since coming as Jesus, our Emmanuel, our God With Us. He is beside us as we wake, eat, sleep and work, all without even asking.