Jesus

11/07/2008

How many of us want to be more like Jesus? How many of us even know what that would look like? What was Jesus really like? What did He think about, what did He do, what were His personality traits in addition to what we have read in Scripture?

In John 21:25, it says, “Jesus also did many other things. If they were all written down, I suppose the whole world could not contain the books that would be written.” What were those things? Will we ever know? Maybe when we get to Heaven we’ll see the whole, clear picture of just Who Jesus is and what He accomplished on earth because then we’ll be able to walk with Him and talk with Him, getting to know Him so well. Until that time, what do we have? Scripture, for sure. And prayer, and also others who have Christ living in them modeling His life as Paul did. Paul said, “My old self has been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (NLT) When we come to know Jesus, it should change how we look and how we act.

I was recently given a book to read. The title is: “The Archko Volume.” It is the Archeological Writings of the Sanhedrim & Talmuds of the Jews. I’m not 100 percent sure that the book is all that it claims to be, but if it is, it certainly contains some interesting things about the life of Jesus written by those who lived during His time here on earth. The claims about the validity of the book vary. It has been questioned and investigated, and as in most things, different conclusions were arrived at. Some claim it can’t be from these ancient writings, some claim it is. I don’t claim anything, but I just offer this message up as an interesting perspective on Jesus, taking a look at the personality that Jesus might have displayed here on earth, and even a bit about what He might have looked like. Mostly, what I’d like to offer here are some thoughts on being more like Jesus in today’s world because while reading this book, I prayed, “Lord, help me know if this is really true.” The only answer that came to my heart and mind was, “When I read this, I want to be more like Jesus.” So, we’ll start there and see where this takes us.

“Make it your chief study to conform yourself to the will of God
even in the smallest things, saying in the midst of the most annoying
contradictions and with the most alarming prospects for the future:
‘My God, I desire with all my heart to do Your holy will; I submit in
all things and absolutely to Your good pleasure for time and eternity,
I wish to do this, O God…’”Jean-Pierre De Caussade

What would it have been like to walk beside Jesus on this earth? To truly know His personality and habits by being His earthly parent or His earthly friend, as the disciples were able to be? As I read along in this book it said that Jesus was described by His mother, Mary, as “perfectly healthy; that she never heard him complain of any pain or dissatisfaction; his food always agreed with him; that he would eat anything set before him, and if anyone else complained he would often say he thought it good enough, much better than we deserved. She said that Joseph was a little hard to please, but this boy had answered him so often, and his answers were so mild and yet so suitable, that he had almost broken him of finding fault. She said he settled all the disputes of the family; that no odds what was the subject or who it was, one word from him closed all mouths, and what gave him such power was his words were always unpretending and spoken as though they were not intended as a rebuke, but merely as a decision….She said she had seen him apparently vexed and grieved at the disputes and follies of others, but had never seen him angry…She said that one thing that vexed her, he seemed to take no care of his person; he did not care whether he was dressed or not, or whether the family got along well or ill; it was all alike to him. She said she talked to him about it, and he would look at her a little grieved and say, ‘Woman (for such he always called me), you do not know who I am.’ Indeed, she said he takes so little interest in the things of the world and the great questions of the day, they were beginning to despair of his ever amounting to much—much less be a king, as the angel said he would be; if so, he would have to act very differently from what he was acting at that time.”

Now, the book says these are taken from the hagiographa or holy writings found in the St. Sophia Mosque at Constantinople, made by Gamaliel, in the Talmuds of the Jews, 27 B. Whether we are to believe this or not, it depends on who you talk to, but I didn’t find anything that I could see that contradicted Scripture in this book.

Jesus was at peace, we know that to be true from Scripture. Jesus knew Who He was, we know that to be true also. Jesus did not have to worry about what He wore; He was the Maker of all things. Jesus knew what He had come to earth to accomplish, and when that time would come…but according to others, He may have seemed to be lacking the gumption to get the job done! They might have thought He needed to get out there and do something, and to be more concerned about the things of this world! To act differently! That might have been why His very first miracle was at the request of His mother when she asked Him about taking care of the wine situation at the wedding. Jesus was acting differently, differently than most of us act, but of course He would as the Son of God. That’s why when I read these writings, I thought, “I want to be more like Jesus!” To act more like Jesus would act, because His was no act, He was real!

The book continues with some illustrations that Jesus gives about the connection between man and the lily. Scripture says, “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow.” Matthew 6:28 (NIV). The book says, “In this talk he brings one to feel he is very near the presence of God…Thus by beginning with the flower he reasons upward to the absolute, and then descends and teaches lessons of trust in a loving Father. The lessons of trust in God reassure the anxious listener and creates an appetite that makes him long for more; and it often seems, when he has brought his hearers to the highest point of anxiety, he suddenly breaks off and leaves his company as though he cared nothing for them.”

This reminds me of the verse in Luke 5 where it says, “Yet despite Jesus’ instructions, the report of his power spread even faster, and vast crowds came to hear him preach and to be healed of their diseases. But Jesus often withdrew to the wilderness for prayer.” (Verses 15 & 16 NLT)

Maybe too many times we think we need to stay and “seal the deal” when we’re talking about the things of God. Perhaps the best thing we can do is to be like Jesus and leave our listeners for awhile, and pray…

I’m learning a lot in school these days, not only how to set perms and cut hair, but how to leave some listeners without all the “answers.” It’s a hard lesson to learn, we want to talk, and get it all out, and make sure we’re understood and that our listener is anxious to jump on board and become a devout believer ON THIS DAY! But is that what Jesus would do? I don’t think so. I think those around Him were more eager to follow Him because He didn’t force the issue, but merely conveyed Truth with confidence. After all, He is God! He already knows the thoughts of man, He can see behind the veil of pride and know when or if that pride will be torn in two, opening up the Most Holy Place where His Spirit is invited to dwell in the heart.

“A man will contend for a false faith stronger than he will for a true one, from the fact that the truth defends itself, but a falsehood must be defended by its adherents; first, to prove it to themselves, and secondly, that they may appear right in the estimation of their friends.” (Pg. 153 on Herod Antipater’s Defence in the “Archko Volume.”)

Jesus knew the Truth. He didn’t have to “prove it” to Himself, or “appear right” to His friends, He was right. Jesus was probably so calm, it stumped those around Him. Can we, on this day, remain so calm? It’s hard, isn’t it! We so want to bring those around us to the Truth, we’d like to force-feed them until they fill up with it and are ready to spit it out as their truth, but most times, it just doesn’t work that way! Our job is to plant some seeds, to have others water them a bit, and to allow God to grow them in His own way and His own time. God is patient, and He encourages us to let His fruit grow, trusting Him to seal the deal in His timing and in His way. It’s all about our Lord, not about us!

“A joyous man, such as I have now in my mind’s eye, is for all
intents and purposes a strong man. He is strong in a calm, restful
manner. Whatever happens he is not ruffled or disturbed. He is
not afraid of evil tidings; his heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord…
Such a man, though he is humble, is firm and steadfast; he is not
carried away with every wind or bowed by every breeze, he knows
what he knows and holds what he holds.” Charles H. Spurgeon

Perhaps reading this book, about the man of Jesus, is nothing more than painting the picture of whom we should be in Christ, the person Charles Spurgeon speaks of in the quotation above, a man who is joyous, and who knows what he knows. We can know what we know, we can learn what we need to know from Scripture and from prayer, and we can stand firmly on our convictions. Not pressuring, but loving others, having the presence of God be what draws them to Him, as Jesus drew the people to Himself.

In these ancient writings it also talks about times that Jesus spent with Lazarus in nature with the animals. “He (Lazarus) said when they were out in the mountains, as they are most all the time, Jesus can tell him all about the flowers, trees, and rocks, can tell him everything in the world, and that none of the wild animals are afraid of him. He says often the stag and the wolf will come and stand for Jesus to stroke their mane, and seem almost loath to go away from him. He says that no poisonous serpent will offer to hiss at him.”

Of course, we are not God, we cannot experience these things in this fallen world, to be like Jesus in that way. Snakes will bite us, and we can die from their venom. Wolves can be dangerous. Sure, there are miraculous stories of Paul’s encounter with a snake, but we can’t know that our experience with them would be the same. What we can know is that our relationship with our Savior can be the same, and not be “carried away by every wind or bowed by every breeze” that comes against us in a world that is very willing to persecute those with a faith in the one true God of the Universe.

But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because
he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
James 1:6 (NIV)

I was asked an interesting question the other day at school as the young girls and I sat outside having our lunch. They were discussing how one of the girl’s parents really wanted her to go to church and how she didn’t feel the need to be in church. Another of the students said, “Yeah, that’s what Diane and I talk about,” as she looked over towards me. I said, “Well, you can be a car and not be in a garage.” So I was then asked if we allow gay people to attend our church? I said, “We have gay people at our church. We know what the Bible says about it, and we are all sinners.” I wondered later, “Lord, were those Your words, brought out by your Holy Spirit? I surely hope so.” They weren’t words of condemnation, just a simply stated fact of knowing that there are gay people in our church, those who are also looking for a relationship with God, those searching for Truth, as this young woman probably was. And it was true, we do know what the Bible has to say about such relationships as is written in Romans 1, but to quote that to her on that day might have been rejected immediately, probably so. Maybe it was more a seed that was planted…maybe she will come to me one day and ask just what the Bible does have to say about her relationship with her girlfriend. I don’t know, but I know that I can trust God with her life, and that all sinners are welcome in our church. If they weren’t, the place would be empty!

Just to touch on the going to church, or not going to church subject just a bit more—don’t get me wrong, attending Church is important here on earth. It’s a place where we can learn and grow, and being with other believers strengthens and encourages us! Randy Alcorn writes; “Scripture teaches that we need each other and should not withdraw from each other’s fellowship, instruction or accountability,” as is written about in Hebrews 10:25. This is very true, and I love going to church and being with my church family. I wouldn’t want to do this life without my extended family inside the church and outside of the church walls. But we have to remember that we are the Church, as Christ’s body, and the act of going to church does not get us into Heaven, anymore than sitting in a garage turns us into a car. I’ve heard that said, and it’s simple but direct. Interestingly enough, there won’t be a church in Heaven. Revelation 21:22 says, “No temple could be seen in the city, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” (NLT) Alcorn writes this about being in Heaven, “…all that we do will be an act of worship. We’ll enjoy full and unbroken fellowship with Christ.”

We can worship God here on earth at all times, and should. Focusing on God and worshipping Him shouldn’t just be saved for Sunday mornings when we gather together. If it is, we’re missing some of the best parts of being in a relationship with our Savior, and being in a relationship with others who love Him too! When we love Jesus, He becomes our everything, our every day, our every relationship, not just our Sunday morning routine. If we hear someone say, “I need to get back to church.” Perhaps our response should be, “Maybe it’s just time to get back to Jesus.”

So let’s do that…

In the Hillel Letters included in the “The Archko Volume,” it was written: “Had Moses himself received no divine aid, either from inspiration or miracles, even if he had uttered the same truths and laid down the same precepts, he would have accomplished nothing in the world. His doctrines would have rested for evidence on his own reason, and his precepts upon his own personal character and influence. Another man of equal wisdom and the same weight of character might have overthrown what he had built up…No man can inspire confidence in others who has not confidence in himself. No man in high religious matters can have full confidence in himself without conscious divine inspiration…This distinction was perceived by the people, though the reason upon which it was founded was beyond their comprehension.” (Pg. 204)

In this world, if we’re just talking of our own accord, then our words are no weightier than the next guy’s. Everyone has a right to their opinion. If we’re just talking to be talking, spouting our own ideas about what’s what, then we have to agree to disagree with those we share this world with. But when what we are talking about is God’s Truth, what’s written in Scripture (and we need to know what’s there), it’s not that we’ll convince all those we share it with that it is the Truth, but deep in our hearts we can know it is, and we must stand confidently on it without wavering, or sit next to others as they ask questions, as I did with my young friend at school, and always love the sinner, but not the sin.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger.
When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them,
"If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.”
John 8:7 (NIV)

There are issues pending today, even as the election draws near. Some things we must stand on without a doubt, and others are simply a matter of our personal thoughts and opinions. We are free to make our own decisions on matters of taste and personalities and plans, but to choose yes instead of no, or no instead of yes, on matters of Biblical teaching is getting foundational. When I see people standing on the corners waving signs, I love the sign wavers, I appreciate their passion, but still, I may not be able to vote in agreement with their signs if God has spoken about that subject in His Word. Sometimes, I’d sure like to—to allow gay people to marry, to let them do what they want. Or, to allow a desperate woman to have an abortion—It seems sometimes there are good reasons, and even sometimes that there are babies who would seem to be better off never to be born—to have to live here in a world that can be so difficult at times. But God doesn’t tell us to take the easy road with these things, He says take My road, it’s the way, the Truth and the life. Yes, everyone has the right to choose, we can follow our own ideas about things, God has given us that right—ultimately that’s why some choose Him and some don’t. But, once a decision has been made for Christ, then Christ must be the Head and we must be the body. That’s the way God has designed it. It’s God’s plan, not ours. We are no longer our own, but His. Our will is no longer to be followed, but His will. And His is the perfect law of love.

As believers, the desire of our heart should always be, to be like Jesus, to love others as Jesus did. The woman caught in adultery was loved by Jesus and told to go and sin no more. The chief tax collector was called out of the tree by Jesus and they went to Zacchaeus’ house to have dinner together—Jesus was befriending a man who probably had few friends. When the disciples argued about who would be able to sit next to Jesus when His Kingdom came, He let them know what was most important. No matter what the issue, Jesus remained calm, loving and confident because He was always able to see the bigger picture…which included His Father’s plan for our redemption and eternal life, where sin, greed, and fighting would be no more. Jesus, as God’s only Son, lived the perfect submitted life on earth, demonstrating to us how we should live here until it’s our time to go Home. No one can do it exactly like Jesus did, He is the only perfect One to ever walk this earth, but we can and should give Him our all each day.

A precious young girl left for Heaven today. Korrine fought her battle with cancer as hard as anyone I have ever seen. I didn’t personally know her, but I have followed her journey these last ten months through her website and through her aunt who is a friend of mine. There is heartbreak all around today, a heartbreak I know all too well. I know when a child dies at home, in their own bed, it’s a tender moment that no parent wants to experience, but one that no parent would want anyone to take their place in. As our child leaves planet earth, leaves our arms for our Father’s, if given the choice, we’d want to be nowhere else but with them in that moment. We were there when they took their first breath, and it’s important to be there when they take their last. As a child arrives in Heaven, and we are left behind to weep for a time, it is one of the hardest of life’s circumstances, but when we know Jesus, we can know Hope, and we can cling to that Hope until our own dying day.

Oswald Chambers wrote: “Faith must be tried before the reality of faith is actual…To turn head faith into a personal possession is a fight always, not sometimes. God brings us into circumstances in order to educate our faith, because the nature of faith is to make its object real. Until we know Jesus, God is a mere abstraction, we cannot have faith in Him; but immediately we hear Jesus say—‘He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father,’ we have something that is real, and faith is boundless.’”
(My Utmost For His Highest, Oct. 30th)

We have to know Jesus, and to know His Truth above all else. We need to know the Savior as our Friend. We need to know what He’s like, what He wants, what His will is. As believers, we don’t want to live with God being a “mere abstraction,” we desire “boundless faith.” Maybe being able to picture what Jesus looks like might help us see how real He really was/is. I don’t know that the following description of Jesus is accurate, but it seems close to what other writings of the times had to say about our Lord, so I’ll include it here.

What if we were walking along in our day, and Jesus appeared to us…

“If you ever meet him you will know him. While he is nothing but a man, there is something about him that distinguishes him from every other man. He is the picture of his mother, only he has not her smooth, round face. His hair is a little more golden than hers, though it is as much from sunburn as anything else. He is tall, and his shoulders are a little drooped; his visage is thin and of a swarthy complexion, though this is from exposure. His eyes are large and a soft blue, and rather dull and heavy. The lashes are long and his eyebrows very large. His nose is that of a Jew. In his face, he reminds me of an old-fashioned Jew in every sense of the word.” (Taken from Gamaliel’s interview with Joseph and Mary and others concerning Jesus.)

Whether or not this is what Jesus looked like on earth, when we do see Jesus in Heaven, there will be no mistaking Him. Korrine of Livermore, California met Jesus face-to-face today, she knows up close and personal what He looks like. And perhaps she also met our son, Phil, from Pleasanton, California. I hope they became fast friends. I couldn’t help but write about Korrine’s Homegoing today in a poem called, “She’s Home.”

The news was sad…of course it was
A young girl left this earth
Behind she left her brother…her dad, her mom
And the first…
Of many days of sorrow…the tears we cannot count
Even though she’s safely Home…there’s sadness
And a missing…of that there is no doubt

What she has entered into…is Heaven with her Lord
What her family has entered into…is yet to be explored
It’s a road that none would choose…a valley full of shadows
Though at the end…the Son shines…the interim feels like the gallows
The air cut off…the pain intense…the questions and the thoughts
Will be all-consuming…for awhile…it will seem all has been lost

While on the other side of this…are the smiles and the hugs…
From those that come to welcome…this child…pure as a dove
Washed clean from head to foot with Jesus and the gift
Of Eternal life…in Heaven…she’ll no longer have to sift
Through what seems so unfair…Now because of what she believed
Her eternity is certain…and she can clearly see…

Our son may be amongst the crowd that greeted her today
Perhaps he said, “Hi. My name is Phil…let me show you the way…
Jesus has prepared a place for you…I know that you will love it!
On earth I battled cancer too, but here we’ve risen far above it
There’s no more pain and suffering…it’s all been left behind
The days here hold more joy and love…than all the earth’s combined
There’s laughter, fun and fellowship…and the greatest thing of all
Is Jesus is now visible…here He comes…”

                “Korrine…Welcome Home!” He calls.

“Well done my precious child…Your faith has held so true
I know it wasn’t easy…life on earth is filled with tough things to do
I was always with you…I’m sorry for the pain…
And I’m sorry now that those you love…will miss you…it seems there’s much to explain
But just as I watched over you…and brought you safely Home
I’ll do the same for those you love…I’ll never leave them alone
I’ll be with them…through every tear…I’ll heal their broken hearts
And one day when their time does come…they’ll too get to take part
In all that we are doing here…and all that is to come
Every believer that ever lived…will join us when Day is done.”

And so my friends…the story goes…For those who will believe
Life ends not in an eternal death…but in a place where we won’t grieve
Till then our prayers must continue on…because the missing will be huge
For a family here on earth…even a minute…will seem beyond what they can do
The days will turn into weeks…then months…then even years
As they live without their precious child…longing for her through the tears
The story goes…but it’s without end…it’s the Greatest Story ever told
Because Jesus has made a way…Korrine fully lives…and she’d want us all to know!

When everything is ready, I will come and get you,
so that you will always be with me where I am.”  John 14:3

In thinking about the Greatest Story ever told, I am reminded that recently I was asked why Jesus didn’t write the Bible. It was suggested that if He had, it would be more believable. But would it? Would we believe the actual writings of Jesus any more than we believe the writings of those who knew Him personally? I don’t know, but I’d like to share with you what this book has to say about that very thought/question:

“What Jesus wanted of his Apostles was principally to be his witnesses to the world and to all succeeding ages. On their testimony, in fact, the faith of the successive millions of the Christian Church has depended. The Gospels are nothing more nor less than their testimony. Jesus himself left nothing written…It was on the strength of what they have seen and heard that they claimed to be religious teachers of the world….Nothing could be added to it, and nothing could be taken from it. The system was perfect…It may seem strange to those who are accustomed to dispute about words and phrases, that Christ should have left nothing written, nothing which we can identify as the very words which he spoke…whatever Christ might have left written, there would have remained the same difficulty of interpretation…even had the Saviour left the Gospel written with his own hand, we would still have been compelled to rely on human testimony that the same identical words were preserved…What more competent witnesses could we possibly have than those who were with him on terms of the greatest familiarity during his whole ministry?”

It seems that our Father God followed His own advice when it came to the life of Jesus and all that He came to do for us. Scripture used more than one witness to attest to the Truth of His Son, it uses many to tell the story.

"Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses."
2 Corinthians 13:1 (NIV)

And about witnesses, the book goes on to say, “…those who understand the principles of evidence most thoroughly tell us that their evidence is the more weighty and satisfactory from their slight variations from each other. Those who frequent courts of justice tell us that it is utterly vain to expect entire consistency of a number of witnesses, let them be ever so honest, and ever so competent. Agreement in the main facts is all that is expected, than for two witnesses to make, word for word, the same statement. No human being ever told the same story twice in the same words and in the same order.”

One last thing I’d like to share with you describing our Lord in this book concerning how He shared the Good News with others. Many times, it seems we stumble over our words, or go away feeling disheartened that we should have said more, or said it better… It was written that “He (Jesus) is not a great talker, unless there is something brought up about heaven and divine things, when his tongue moves glibly and his eyes light up with a peculiar brilliancy; though there is this peculiarity about Jesus, he never argues a question; he never disputes. He will commence and state facts, and they are on such a solid basis that nobody will have the boldness to dispute with him.”

Jesus, our Lord, our Savior, our Master…help us to be more like You! Let our eyes light up and move our tongue glibly when we think of You and the place You have gone ahead to prepare for us. Let our earthly footsteps always follow Yours—although it is said to be the narrow path Home, narrow is not cold nor hard-hearted, but it is specific, it is confident, and most of all it is loving.

A young girl showed those of us who followed her journey through cancer what a solid basis and boldness of faith looks like on earth. Korrine was specific, confident and most of all loving. She is celebrating being fully healed with her Risen Lord today! Korrine now knows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the Truth of Scripture is to be believed and followed, and that in Jesus there is great Hope!

And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know
how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit
to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:5 (NLT)

Korrine now sees what one day all who believe will see…Jesus!

Until we meet again!

Diane