What Jesus Is
But it is from Him that you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God [revealing His plan of salvation], and righteousness [making us acceptable to God], and sanctification [making us holy and setting us apart for God], and redemption [providing our ransom from the penalty for sin],
1 Corinthians 1:30
The believers in Corinth were, sad to say, much like wealthy people throughout history. They were proud of their possessions and positions, and they looked down on those who didn’t have as much. Paul, though, put them in their place. He wrote that God has a very different standard operating procedure. God uses the weak to shame the mighty, the foolish to shame the supposedly wise, and the common to shame the noble.(1 Corinthians 1:27) Does that sound harsh? No, it reflects God’s attitude and actions when Jesus stepped out of the glory of heaven to enter a broken, sin-stained world to give His life for us. For our sake, He became seemingly weak and He died like a common criminal.
Jesu, though, didn’t stand on a hilltop and make pronouncements about the wisdom of God. He became God’s wisdom in flesh and blood. In the Old Testament, people looked to prophets to tell them about God’s character, but Jesus personally embodied all the truth and grace we need to know. Do we want to grasp God’s fiery righteousness? Jesus demonstrated the holiness of God by never sinning and by standing up for truth in the face of fierce opposition. Do we want to know what it means to be sanctified? Jesus was set apart to fulfill the Father’s mission. He’s the only person who was born to die, not born to live. Do we want to get a handle on redemption? We need only to look at the Cross to see the sinless Son of God dying in our place to purchase forgiveness, peace, and eternal life. In Jesus, wisdom isn’t just a concept-it’s a Person.
Do you need help today? Lift up your hands to the Lord in supplication and in expectation, and soon you will lift up your hands in jubilation and celebration.
The twelfth chapter of Hebrews tells us that while we are surrounded by a cloud of witnesses- those who have run the race of righteousness and faith before us- we are to “look unto Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith.” That’s the true secret of the Christian life. We often make it complicated, trying to figure out the wisdom and knowledge of God. As Paul is writing the the Corinthians, he is speaking to a church that was incredibly gifted with the things of God. We are told that they “came behind in no gift.” As a matter of fact they were so engaged that when they gathered everyone had a song, a prophetic word, a message in tongues, or an interpretation. It’s the only place we know of that there were restrictions placed upon how many songs, prophetic words, messages in tongues and interpretations was limited. God was so moving and working among them that the became arrogant and egotistical. So Paul has to bring a word of correction that reminded them and us that every enablement comes from God. He tells us that God alone is the source of wisdom and that Christ embodied the wisdom and character of God. In fact Jesus, in reply to Thomas’s request to be shown the Father, says, “If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.”
Christianity isn’t some philosophy or even a religion for it isn’t about doctrine or theology but about a Person-the Person of Jesus Christ. Everything begins and ends with Him. The Bible says that all things were created by Him and without Him nothing was made. The wisdom in how to live the Christian life is nothing more or less than imitating the model that Christ demonstrated. It’s more than following His teachings. It’s actually living out how He lived. Christians didn’t choose their name. It was given to them by the community. In the Greek, Christian means “little Christs.” As Peter and John were having to give account to the religious leaders, the Bible records these words:
“Now when the men of the Sanhedrin (Jewish High Court) saw the confidence and boldness of Peter and John, and grasped the fact that they were uneducated and untrained [ordinary] men, they were astounded, and began to recognize that they had been with Jesus.”
Can those who know you say that about you? What the Sanhedrin saw was a replica of Jesus. They saw the same power of God at work in Peter and John that they had seen in Jesus.
We have not been called to debate religious ideals or to discover some great wisdom and knowledge about God. We have been called to know Christ. In Philippians 3 we hear the heart cry of Paul. Pay attention that these words came from a man who had an amazing conversion. Few of us have met Jesus in the way Paul did. This man was
a effective church planter, a writer of two thirds of the New Testament, a man that God worked through in powerful ways and who had received incredible revelations. I say this to put into perspective the words of Philippians 3. These words weren’t written at the beginning of Paul’s Christian life but at the end. After experiencing all he had experienced and doing all that he had done, he penned these words:
“But whatever former things were gains to me [as I thought then], these things [once regarded as advancements in merit] I have come to consider as loss [absolutely worthless] for the sake of Christ [and the purpose which He has given my life]. But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him—a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ, and may be found in Him [believing and relying on Him], not having any righteousness of my own derived from [my obedience to] the Law and its rituals, but [possessing] that [genuine righteousness] which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness which comes from God on the basis of faith. And this, so that I may know Him [experientially, becoming more thoroughly acquainted with Him, understanding the remarkable wonders of His Person more completely] and [in that same way experience] the power of His resurrection [which overflows and is active in believers], and [that I may share] the fellowship of His sufferings, by being continually conformed [inwardly into His likeness even] to His death [dying as He did]; so that I may attain to the resurrection [that will raise me] from the dead.”
Of all the things we hope to gain, and of all that we seek to increase, let these words become our desire. Oh that we would want to know Christ as more than our Savior. Oh that we would desire to know more than His blessings. Oh that we would want to know Him more in this life and be unwilling to wait to know Him in eternity.
There will always be debates about how to live the Christian life, what is acceptable, what is of righteousness, and what rules to follow or keep. Like the scribes in Jesus’ day it’s easy to get into intense philosophical debates. But far too often we miss the very Person of Christ. Like the blind men we can only grasp a small understanding of all that Christ is. But when we make the Person the object of our pursuit, we know that we don’t have to know everything about Him to enjoy who He is.
God sent Jesus into the world for two great purposes. Of course, we all know that Jesus was sent to die for our sins, to become our Redeemer, to overcome sin, death, and the grave for us so that we might have eternal life. The second purpose, however, was equally important. Since the Garden few had ever come to really know God. Most only knew what the prophets had told them about God. It was Moses who was on the mountain with God for forty days and afterward, it was Moses who told the people about God and what God wanted. It was the prophets in the Old Testament who heard from God and who made known to the people God’s plans and God’s desires. Among the Jews there was a lot of shared knowledge about God but it is evident from the New Testament that few if any knew the Person of God. Most missed the fact that Jesus was the Son of God because He didn’t fit into their preconceived notion of who God was. So God sent Christ into the world to make known through Him the nature and character of God.
“Now My soul is troubled and deeply distressed; what shall I say? ‘Father, save Me from this hour [of trial and agony]’? But it is for this [very] purpose that I have come to this hour [this time and place].
The one who practices sin [separating himself from God, and offending Him by acts of disobedience, indifference, or rebellion] is of the devil [and takes his inner character and moral values from him, not God]; for the devil has sinned and violated God’s law from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil.
1 John 3:8
Philip said to Him, “Lord, show us the Father and then we will be satisfied.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time, and you do not know Me yet, Philip, nor recognize clearly who I am? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father?’ 10 Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words I say to you I do not say on My own initiative or authority, but the Father, abiding continually in Me, does His works [His attesting miracles and acts of power].
Some would say that all this is fine but since Jesus isn’t present in the world today, how will we ever come to know Him? Glad you asked. When Jesus left us and went back to heaven and set down at the right hand of the Father, He sent to us the Holy Spirit. Listen to how Jesus describes the work and mission of the Holy Spirit:
“But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. But when the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is the Spirit of Truth who comes from the Father, He will testify and bear witness about Me. But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him (the Holy Spirit) to you [to be in close fellowship with you]. And He, when He comes, will convict the world about [the guilt of] sin [and the need for a Savior], and about righteousness, and about judgment: about sin [and the true nature of it], because they do not believe in Me [and My message]; about righteousness [personal integrity and godly character], because I am going to My Father and you will no longer see Me; about judgment [the certainty of it], because the ruler of this world (Satan) has been judged and condemned. But when He, the Spirit of Truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth [full and complete truth]. For He will not speak on His own initiative, but He will speak whatever He hears [from the Father—the message regarding the Son], and He will disclose to you what is to come [in the future]. He will glorify and honor Me, because He (the Holy Spirit) will take from what is Mine and will disclose it to you. 15 All things that the Father has are Mine. Because of this I said that He [the Spirit] will take from what is Mine and will reveal it to you.
There it is. The Holy Spirit will make Christ known to us as the Person rather than a philosophy about.
Christ is the embodiment of all that God is and when we know Him, we become beneficiaries to all He has.
Dr. John Thompson