Read His Words Before Ours!
In the beginning was….
The Word. The Logos. The Image.
The very expression of Yahweh sent from heaven, to dwell among us. (John 1:14)
The very Lamb of God sent to take away the sins of the world, to make all things new,
to bring men back to God. (John 1:29)
Standing on the banks of the Jordan, watching Jesus, son of Joseph the carpenter, be baptized produced a mixture of anticipation and uncertainty in me.
Could this truly be The One Isaiah said would be given to us?
Could this be Israel’s redemption?
“For a child will be born for us,
a son will be given to us,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
He will be named
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
Eternal Father, Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
I, John, give testimony of this Word made flesh.
As John the Baptizer prepared the way, Jesus of Nazareth has come to reap the harvest of God’s kingdom. (John 3:22-30) He called us to follow Him. First inviting Andrew, then Simon Peter, Philip and Nathaniel, then my brother James and myself.
We marveled at the speed at Jesus’ glory-following, as we baptized one after another.
James and I, known as the “Sons of Thunder”, were like a lit canon of untamed zeal and ambitious devotion.
In those early days, I could be foolish and harsh, shutting down those who didn’t fit my expectations. (Mark 9:38-41) Other times, I was arrogant and presumptuous, expecting honor for following Jesus. (Matthew 20:20-24)
My heart was on fire, but oh I had so much to learn of Jesus’ perfect balance of grace with truth.
Jesus was ushering in a new Way, a new Kingdom.
Yet, there was an ancient familiarity to Jesus.
Something in His presence, His words, His essence, spoke of Yahweh’s long prophesied suffering servant who would come and be broken, overcoming sin and oppression, for our nation. (Isaiah 53)
We’d seen prophets and teachers before, but Jesus was different.
Jesus performed signs, miracles and wonders no man had ever done. From healing those with life-long diseases and displaying authority over nature, to feeding thousands with hardly any food and even bringing Lazarus back from death itself.
Truly we were awestruck with each move He made!
Everywhere people murmured, questioned, and speculated if Jesus really could be the Christ. Many disputes broke out among the Pharisees, wearying us with their constant questions. After a particularly heated debate, Jesus brought the final word on His identity with one cataclysmic statement,
“Truly, truly I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am”. (John 8:58)
Did He say what we think He just said?
The Pharisees began picking up stones to kill Him.
We all knew exactly what Jesus meant.
So did He.
Could I believe that standing before us was the great I AM?
The Same who appeared before Moses in the burning bush?
The very God whom our people have been serving from the beginning of time?
The unbridled passion of my discipleship was finally met with unwavering and sincere belief. Yes, my heart only knew one answer.
This Jesus was indeed the Son of God,
the Chosen One, the Christ,
the very expression of Yahweh.
Each glimpse of glory made my heart swell all the more, and yet ache as we watched hostility and hatred from Pharisees grow toward our long-awaited Messiah. We had grown to not only follow, but truly love Jesus. Why?
Because He first loved us. (I John 4:19)
He came not to be served, but to serve us. (Mark 10:45)
It was a stunning paradox that rattled my heart.
Little did we know we were on the cusp of His greatest service to mankind.
It began one night in the garden.
Soldiers and traitors came to arrest Jesus. I, along with the other disciples scattered in shameful fear. From afar, we watched a whirlwind of accusations, threats, beatings, mockery, torture and insults hurled at our beloved Jesus.
Was this really happening? Weren’t we all just riding the wave of His glory-wonder? Weren’t we just feasting together, safely tucked away in the upper room?
And yet, it was happening and His words began to echo through our hearts.
“A little while, and you will see me no longer…”. (John 16:16a)
Standing at his blood-drenched feet, nailed to a crucifixion cross, I knelt in heart-aching horror. Beside me was Mary, Jesus’ mother. With pounding hearts, we both stared up, hanging on every mustered word He could give. When Jesus assigned me the honor of caring for His mother, and taking her as my own, a rush of new energy and devotion came over me, even as we failed to understand this mystery before us.
With His last breath, darkness covered the earth. And our hearts.
But the Word still reverberated. “A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while and you will see me” (John 16:16)…… “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” (John 2:19)
In a daze with wrung out hope, our hearts nearly burst within us come Sunday morning! Mary Magdalene came running through town spreading the word that Jesus’ tomb was empty, she’d actually seen his face, and that He was alive! Later that evening, her words were confirmed. The Lord Jesus Christ appeared to us in flesh and bone! We, the disciples were stunned and shocked back to vibrant life, now with unshakable fervor.
It all became so much clearer now. Jesus truly was the Lamb of God, sent to take away the sins of the world! What once was a hard saying, now nourished our souls.
“I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) ….”For my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink.” (John 6:55)
He gave His flesh and blood as the final sacrifice for the sin of all mankind!
This was our rescue!
This was our redemption!
The power of God raised Him back from death, conquering over sin and death once for all. The promised Helper came like a rushing wind and with Him came our eternal peace. (John 14:16-17, 27)
This was our rest!
I made it my aim going forward to be a defender of the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ with the same gracious humility our Savior demonstrated for us.
I will not work for food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man gave to me. I walk with confidence in His Spirit knowing that on me God the Father has set his seal (John 6:27) to be a light and guide for the faith of others.
This is the Word and He dwelt among us.
Embracing God’s fullness in our lives is rooted in scripture and memorizing His word is vital to our continued growth and depth with Jesus. Tap and hold from your mobile device to download this week’s verse and make it your phone’s lockscreen!