Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Day 19: Which Jesus is He?

Did you ever wonder why it was that God chose to send His Son into the world as a baby to an unwed peasant girl, at a time when they were traveling and all the better they could do for Him is lay Him in a feeding trough?

If you think about it, Jesus' first coming into the world contrasts greatly with how Revelation describes Jesus' coming at the end of time:

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war.  His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself.  He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God.  The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. “He will rule them with an iron scepter.” He treads the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty.  On his robe and on his thigh he has this name written:

king of kings and lord of lords.

And I saw an angel standing in the sun, who cried in a loud voice to all the birds flying in midair, “Come, gather together for the great supper of God, so that you may eat the flesh of kings, generals, and the mighty, of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all people, free and slave, great and small.”-Revelation 19:11-18

We know this is Jesus that this passage is describing because John 1:1-5 confirms that Jesus is known as the "Word of God".  So why would one time He come as a lowly infant, with very little pomp and circumstance and the next time come into the world as a powerful King on horseback?

I believe it was to teach us humility.  To be able to accept Jesus into our lives, we have to humble ourselves, admit we are screwed up sinners, and repent of our sin.  We have to make ourselves like helpless infants, lying in a feed trough, before Jesus can begin to work in us.  Any sense of pride or illusion of goodness needs to be torn from us before we can really know who Jesus is.  Since Jesus isn't capable of sinning, and thus capable of showing us how to repent and humble ourselves, He did it the only way He could.  He came as a lowly infant.  And at the end of the world, when judgement has already been rendered, He can display His full Kingship to the world.

So if all we have to do is come to the foot of the Cross, admit we are screwed up (which should be glaringly obvious to us...if not, just ask people around you, they'll tell you!), and submit to Him because we see we cannot be righteous on our own, then why do so many people choose not to do it?  People will go on a reality TV show and eat bugs and starve themselves to death out in the middle of nowhere for just the CHANCE to win a million dollars.  People will work themselves to an early death just so they can have an expensive house and an expensive car that will last only a few years.  People will give up their character and morals just to get one more step up some imaginary corporate ladder.  Why won't people simply just humble themselves and admit they are screwed up?

I like the quote from Oswald Chamber's devotional, "My Utmost for His Highest", that addresses this very question.  He says, very succinctly, "It is too humiliating to be received as a sinner."  That is the crux of why so many people remain so far from God.  They are willing to say they need God, you know, for the really hard things in life.  They are willing to worship God at church, as long as it doesn't involve singing too loud or raising your hands or any of that weird stuff.  They are even willing to give 10% of their paycheck to the church because how else would they keep the lights on?  But all of this is merely acting like a Christian.  You don't know who Jesus is any more than you know Barack Obama or Oprah Winfrey or any other person you recognize, but don't actually know.

In order to get past simply recognizing Jesus and begin to develop that relationship, we have to see ourselves for who we really are.  We have to take a long look at ourselves in the mirror and say, "I cheat on my taxes. I'm a cheater."  Or, "I entertain lustful thoughts about someone I'm not married to.  I'm an adulterer."  Everything in our flesh wants to scream out that is not true.  We want to use our earthly measures of success and goodness as proof that we are not sinners.  The truth is, until you have that relationship with Christ, you are no better than a prostitute, a serial killer, or a thief.  There is only one sin, and that is not being obedient to God.  The means by which you are disobedient don't matter to Him as much as the fact that you simply choose not to follow His ways.

And even once we have that relationship with Christ, once we have humbled ourselves and came to Him as a sinner, we are still no better than the prostitute, serial killer or thief, except that we have Jesus and He is the payment for our sins.  That should keep us in a state of humility every day and staying in that state of humility allows Jesus to work in us and through us.

So, while we are here on earth, we are to make ourselves like that helpless infant born in a stable with no pomp or fanfare.  And if we accept Jesus as our Savior, at the end of the world, we will be like Jesus, each with a crown, pure and holy in Heaven.  We have to keep both images of Jesus in mind at the same time.

Activity:  What keeps you, or makes it difficult for you, to come to the Cross as a sinner?  Is it your pride?  Is it fear about who you really are?  What things are you afraid to let go of?  How would you be different if you came before Jesus, completely honest about who you are?

Prayer:  Ask God to search your heart and reveal to you anything in your heart that you are in denial about.  Pray that He shows you where you are not being obedient to Him.  Ask that the Holy Spirit fills you with conviction and the desire to honestly come to Jesus as you are.

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