Jesus


‘Way back in 1980, I learned a chorus that was originally written to help teach children at a day-camp about the importance of Jesus’ role in salvation:

“One way, God said, to get to heaven; Jesus is the only way. One way to reach those pearly mansions; Jesus is the only way. No other way, no other way. No other way to go! One way, God said, to get to heaven; Jesus is the only way.”

I find it interesting that the world—even sometimes in the midst of Christianity itself—would like to tell us that there are a number of ways to reach God’s glory. The deep truth though is that it is God’s plan—His design—to offer one, and only one, way to salvation. And that way is Jesus.

All other offers are discounted. They are knock-offs that don’t carry the value of the genuine article. Just as we might pay multiple thousands of dollars for a genuine van Gogh painting (and rightly so) because it is authentic, the authentic plan of salvation is priceless. If we were to purchase a copy of the original van Gogh, it would certainly not be held in the same esteem as the original. So it is with God’s design: a forgery is still a forgery, even if it looks good, even if it sounds enticing, even if it’s easier than accepting the story of the Gospel.

Stick with the original—the perfect design. After all, there’s “no other way, no other way, no other way to go.”

Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”   —John 14:6

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Dallas Holm wrote and sang of Jesus, “I’ll rise again, there’s no power on earth can keep Me down. Yes, I’ll rise again. Death can’t keep Me in the ground.” It is a powerful song with an equally powerful reminder of the authority and ability of Jesus Christ. When we study the scriptures, we discover that He did indeed rise again on the third day after His bloody and horrific crucifixion.

In the event of His death, burial, and resurrection we find our hope and our salvation. On top of that Jesus captures our attention like the Ronco commercials of the past century. He shouts from the Cross, from the Grave, and from the Skies during the Ascension, “But wait! There’s more!” And the “more” is that in the very act of His resurrection He offers resurrection to all who believe on Him.

When we believe in Him, we can sing with others who have gone on before us, “Yes, I feel like traveling on; I feel like traveling on. My heavenly home is bright and fair, I feel like traveling on.”

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live. Everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die.”   —John 11:25-26

As a teenager, my youth group and I sang a chorus that spoke of the heart that we each (as Christians) desire to develop:

Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus

Anywhere He leads me I will follow.

Follow Jesus, I will follow Jesus

Anywhere He leads I’ll go.

 

Across the river, down through the valley,

Or if it be on the mountaintop.

I’ll go, Lord, anywhere You want me

Take me here am I.

It is this heart, surrendered to the Lordship of Jesus Christ that brings about a relationship where God treats us as His children. Yes, He loves everyone because we are His creation (that’s why He sent His Son—see, John 3:16), but those who follow Jesus are God’s children—bought and paid for with the blood of Jesus. When we follow Jesus (and so become God’s children), God provides care, direction and protection for us. I encourage you to follow Jesus—anywhere He leads you—and trust God to lead, guide, and protect you as you follow Him.

But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His name.”   —John 1:12

Late Friday. All day Saturday. Early Sunday. Three days. That time between the last one to see Jesus and the first one to see Jesus. Speculation runs strong about what went on from the time Jesus cried, “It is finished!” and surrendered His earthly body to death and that moment when Mary Magdalene mistook Him for the gardener.

Might I suggest that He was waiting. Waiting can be a holy thing. Why’d He have to wait to prove that He was in control even over death? Partly because of prophecy. In order for Him to fulfill even the last of the prophecies that prove Jesus was and is Messiah, He waited silently for those three days. The prophecy—especially His personal prophecy about Himself—proclaimed that Messiah would be put to death and return to life on the third day. God knows God’s plans. As a matter of form, God knows His plans better than you or I, and we can only be informed insofar as He opens those plans up to us. And in order that all might be able to know that Jesus was and is who He said He was and is and shall be, the plan called for three days.

Perhaps you are in a waiting time. It’s okay to wait on the Lord, but as we wait on Him, let us consider His word and what it is we wait on—the will and plan of God.

Unlike the times we find ourselves in a holding pattern because our plane can’t land, waiting in the presence of God is time well spent.

“For He was teaching His disciples and telling them, ‘The Son of Man is going to be betrayed into the hands of me. They will kill Him, and after He is killed, He will rise three days later.’  — Mark 9:31

We’ve been taught the Golden Rule since we were little children. For those of us who were reared in a church environment, we learned that it came from Scripture (see Luke 6:31). Even those who do not have a heavily churched background were encouraged with this proverb from an early age: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”

It is just a sensible rule of thumb. But somewhere along the way, our selfishness takes over and we adapt a “Do unto others before they do it to you” mentality, or maybe a “do unto others because they did it to you.” At any rate, the Scriptural enjoinder is still as promising today as it was for the first century Christians who read it for the first time.It is more like Christ to think of others than it is to hang onto my own selfish desires. It only makes sense, then, for me to consider the needs and desires of others without any regard to what I want. Perhaps with one blaring exception. I want others to know Jesus. I want others to experience the salvation that God has granted me through His Son. And so, while I am in the middle of trying to meet this one important need of my own, I want to let thoughts of others rule my actions and my words. I want to make the Golden Rule a guiding principle in my daily activity. How about you?

“And as you wish that others would do to you, do so to them.—Jesus, Luke 6:31 (ESV)

Something there is that is intimate about a walk. Especially if that walk is with someone meaningful. Early in the last century, if a young man and woman were beginning to see one another exclusively with the eye to possible matrimony, they might say to their friends that they were “walking out” with that special someone. From time to time, when a person wanted to discuss something without the prying ears of an audience present they might ask the friend to “take a walk with me.”

When you take a walk with a person, there is a certain level of privacy achieved even though you may be in the great outdoors. Conversations can be deep and meaningful in which the participants can truly get to know one another. We can learn each other’s thoughts, emotions, and heartbeats. In the case of young sweethearts, there is the opportunity to walk hand in hand and truly feel the presence of the other. In the case of close friends, there is the opportunity to grow closer and even participate in private, unhindered conversation.

This is what it is to walk with Jesus; to sense His presence as we pass through life, to converse with Him in the heartfelt conversation of prayer. This is the desire of the heart of every person: to walk with the Maker, conversing and communing with Him at the most intimate of levels. It was for this kind of walk that we are created. It is toward this kind of relationship that we are constantly running. It is only in this kind of relationship with Jesus that we can find completeness.

Set aside some time to walk with Jesus this week. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. Let His presence in your daily routine refresh you, mind and spirit. It is what you seek. It is what He desires.

“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze”  —Genesis 3:8a

The Resurrection is difficult to fathom. People just don’t die and come back to life—especially on the third day. There are books that convince us that people who are declared dead for a few minutes (up to 90 minutes if you read one book about Heaven and life after death and resuscitation-type miracles), but on the third day? To accept that takes real faith.

Once our faith has developed to the point of accepting Jesus’ Resurrection (which is real, by the way), then we have to deal with the purpose of the Easter story. You see, the Resurrection was not just a parlor trick to wow the masses. Jesus was not a first-century David Copperfield trying to do a trick that was just too good to be true. The purpose of the Resurrection is to provide the foundation for a future. The events of Easter weekend all have deepest significance.

Jesus died on a cross to provide the perfect sacrifice for the unforgivable. We could not pay dearly enough to restore a relationship with God that was broken by the sinfulness of mankind. Jesus, having lived a sinless life in our sin-filled world, made the only payment possible.

Jesus was buried, and His disciples fell into discouragement because the hope they had placed in Him seemed to be gone with Him. That silent second day—the Sabbath of the week—forced early disciples to reflect on what it was—who it was—that they had followed and believed. This kind of reflection makes or breaks our faith. For those early disciples, their faith triumphed.

On the first Resurrection Day, Jesus conquered death as a promise of a future for those who believe. It is this foundational promise on which the church builds and operates even into the twenty-first century. Hard to believe? Yes. Imperative to believe? Absolutely. Christ is risen—for you, for me, for all who did believe, for all who do believe, and for all who will ever believe. He is risen indeed!

“’Why do you seek the living among the dead? He is not here, but has risen.”  — an Angel, Luke 24:5b-6a

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