How Do We Know Jesus? (Week 1)
I speak about politics, religion, and Denver Broncos football. But, I speak of Jesus. You see, I speak of what I know.
Do we really know Jesus? And, what exactly does that mean, anyway?
Over the next 3 weeks, I will make three suggestions that I believe are key to actually knowing Jesus.
#1: We know Jesus from what we read about Him.
I grew up reading a lot of Old Testament and a lot of Paul. For some reason, the Gospels felt like the background story to the good stuff. You know, Hebrews and Romans and Galatians and then Revelation when you were megamature. So, I didn’t spend a lot of time in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. And when I did, it was mostly in John. The synoptic Gospels (the first three) didn’t have much theology in them. Just stories of what Jesus was doing…and parables that were odd and confusing. Of course we needed the Gospels to let us know He died and rose again–so we could understand more of the good stuff like justification, atonement, salvation, and redemption. But I never had much time for the Gospels. Seems funny looking back.
Now I tell people that if you want to get to know Jesus, the actual person, then read the four Gospels. Read them until they become part of you. Eat and breathe them. I went through a period in the mid ’90s when I read nothing but the Gospels for several years.
Now, don’t get distracted or misunderstand this point–I think all the books of the Bible are important. All sixty-six of them. They’re all helpful. They are all inspired by God. Together they make up His Word. But two things are called “the Word”: the Bible and Jesus. All of Scripture points to Him. I remember hearing a story about Charles Spurgeon debriefing his young intern preacher after he delivered the sermon. Dr. Spurgeon told the young man that he did a great job, but that he missed one key element. The young preacher asked what that was. “There was no Christ in your message, son. We preach Christ here at New Park Street Church.” The intern was shocked. “But, sir,” he replied, “I was preaching from the book of Ezekiel.” Spurgeon responded,
“Son, until you can find Christ in Ezekiel you will not share my pulpit again.”
Jesus is the Word. Ezekiel is the Word. And then the Word became flesh and lived with us. And now dwells in us. All of the Bible is helpful, but it is a signpost to the ultimate Word of God-Jesus the Christ. We do not follow the Bible. we don’t worship the Bible. We love it because it directs us toward the One who is everything. So while all of the Bible is God’s Word, it is not all equal in weight. Is Matthew more important to know than Numbers? Yes. Numbers has its place and it’s part of the story and from God’s Spirit, but that doesn’t mean it carries the same weight of importance Matthew does.
I used to think that in order to share my faith effectively, I had to know and defend the entire Bible. Every single word! Has this ever happened to you? You muster up the courage to finally talk to that person you’ve wanted to share your faith with…and before you know it…wham! They pull out the clobber questions. How can you believe that God created the universe in six days when everybody knows the universe is fourteen billion years old? What about all those people God commanded the Israelites to kill in the Old Testament? Do you actually believe that a whale swallowed Jonah? I feel your pain. It’s happened to me too. I used to get so frustrated until it dawned on me that I don’t have to defend or understand everything in the Bible in order to share my faith. I need to know Jesus, the point of the Bible. It all points to Him. I don’t have to be the Bible’s defense attorney. All I have to do is speak of Jesus and HE will draw people to Himself.
*This excerpt is taken from Carl’s book, Speaking of Jesus.