In Spirit Blog

It’s been kind of a strange and different few months for me.  As you can obviously tell, not writing much.  Very busy with business things, continuing to do some mentoring/coaching and an awful lot of reading of other folks blogs, Facebook posts and even some books.  At times it is overwhelming trying to take it all in.  Various points of view; some inspiring me to rethink my closely held convictions while others causing me to reset my foundations deeper in opposition.  All of it triggering the need to express something that many of us may assume or take for granted – There is no one like Jesus!

ResurrectionGhandi was amazing, Mandela inspiring, Mother Theresa humbling, Martin Luther King worth emulating, Joan of Arc provoking and so many others in history were great examples of reaching so much of the potential that lies within the human spirit but none come close to the man from Galilee.  There is only one resurrected one.  God with skin on.  Messiah.

In recent weeks I had the privilege of meeting and/or interacting with several people in person or on Facebook who I would classify as either spiritualists or deists (labels don’t really matter though).   In summary, their worldview goes something like this (my apologies to those with much more impressive language to describe it):

Jesus was a man who, more than anyone before or after him, connected with the divine nature within each of us and is the prototype son (or daughter) of God, who showed us the way to fulfill our full potential.  Institutional religion was his earthly enemy and all forms of evil and violence, personal or otherwise, his spiritual enemy.  We should then seek to emulate him and be one with the Father as he was/is so that we too can impact the world like he did.

Like all attractive philosophies and worldviews, these statements are full of truth.  Words to live by.  Something to aspire to.  However, as is often the case with anything important in life, what is not said is as important as what is.  As you reflect on these and other similar statements about Jesus, what is missing?  If we were having this conversation in person, now would be the time for a pregnant pause.  Go back and read the preceding paragraph.   What is missing?  Don’t read any further until you’ve reflected on it.  Then read on….

What did you notice?  What was obvious by its absence?   Yes…the uniqueness of Jesus.  His ultimate transcendence above everything and everyone.  Very God and very man.  God with skin on.  As you reflect on this consider some of his own words:

Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:9

Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Matthew 7:21

Very truly I tell you,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am! John 8:58

I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; John 11:25

But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?” Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.” Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. Matthew 16:15-17

And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began. John 17:5  (Note that all of John 17 is packed with the uniqueness of Jesus)

…. and in the words of others who saw him, with emphasis

Thomas – “My Lord and my God! John 20:28

John – “The Word was God…The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1, 14

Demons – “What do you want with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are–the Holy One of God!” Mark 1:24

Nathanael – “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the king of Israel.” John 1:49

Jewish opponents –“We are not stoning you for any good work,” they replied, “but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God.” John 10:33

These are only but a few statements from Jesus himself or those who encountered him that clearly point to his uniqueness and deity, extracted only from the gospel narratives themselves.  There are many others throughout the various letters from Paul, Peter, James and John in the New Testament that add to the sheer weight of how those who were closest to him attempted to describe the fully God and fully human Jesus of Nazareth.  The entire trajectory of scripture points in this direction.  In fact, it somewhat saddens me that I need to clearly state it.

It is undoubtedly true that we are described as his brothers and sisters, sons and daughters of God (as he is) and joint heirs of the kingdom.  Make no mistake that while we must grow up into him to be mature and that we need no human mediator or institution between us and our Father, the Creator of heaven and earth, there is no one like Jesus!

Great peace and revelation to you this Passover, Easter and resurrection season as you reflect on the fullness of God in human likeness.

John Matthews

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Showing 3 comments
  • Jimmy C
    Reply

    This is so refreshing to read. Thanks for writing.

    When I think of what is missing –or what’s not said, specifically in the gospels and in Jesus’ words as a whole I think of two interesting statements he alludes to,

    “I have spoken to you of earthly things and you do not believe; how then will you believe if I speak of heavenly things?” Jn.3:12 Which he repeats this to his disciples later on again.

    And the second one being, “Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.”

    These two allude a lot to the white space between the words, or what the words point to in the scriptures.

    Though Jesus spoke plain as day light. Come to me. I am the way. I am the path. I am the light. I think this simplicity of Christ, is what leads us each and as communities into all God has for us.

    These are the things that cannot blossom in the graveyards of institutions, but require the garden of life in Christ, not in a building.

  • Jimmy C
    Reply

    When I read this article and take a pause, again I am left with the question, what does life or church look like then? And the best part is there is no straight answer. I do believe church doesn’t look like the american/western institution we as a culture call church. I believe a variety of people are on this page to. (I think there are principals that life in God is built upon, but the specifics of daily work or community life seem to vary in every age and story I read in scriptures).

    What’s intriguing though and part of Jesus’ invitation to life in God, is that he calls us to follow. That is far closer to an adventure we read of in fiction books like Lord of the Rings, sounds like Aragon leading the hobbits. It is also highly connected to the earth, the mundane, our daily work. When Jesus teaches on prayer life, he brings us back to be conscious of our natural world, connected to it. Not just drifting in space. Though he might lead that way at times to.

    • B2E Group
      Reply

      Appreciate both of your comments Jimmy. Regarding your last one, it really is about Jesus and his total uniqueness. Our trigger in writing this blog was an apparent trend of thought about the person Jesus of Nazareth somehow achieving the ultimate in human potential to embrace the Christ “mantle” (or something like that). In a strange way in lowers Jesus to just one of us that managed to excel in pursuit of Godliness. As John put it so well

      “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched–this we proclaim concerning the Word of life.” 1 John 1

      There is and only ever will be One who fits that description.

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