4 Jesus: Keep the Christ in Christianity

No Longer From a Worldly Point of View

That revelation was the secret behind the effectiveness and authority of the early church. The revelation of Jesus was both the logic and the motivation behind their persistent proclamation of Him. They weren’t following a church growth manual. They didn’t get together and work out a strategy for world evangelism. They didn’t try to implement “methods” as such at all. It was simply that the resurrected Messiah, the very alive Son of the very alive God, was so real to them that they “couldn’t help speaking about what they had seen and heard.”

Others looked at a bearded, sandaled carpenter from the backwoods of Palestine and saw a prophet or a grass-roots politician or a free lunch or a threat to security. But these early believers looked at Jesus with their spiritual eyes—and saw. And Peter wasn’t the only one! They all could say with Paul: “And so from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.” (2 Cor 5:16)

How did Paul come to regard Jesus? Just listen: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the Head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him.” (Col. 1:15-19)

Where did Paul get those ideas, anyway? He didn’t hear them from Gamaliel! He didn’t figure them out somehow by logically analyzing this “no beauty or majesty” young Nazarene who ate and drank and slept and sweated and died like the rest of us. No, Paul genuinely got to know the resurrected Jesus and described to us what he saw.

Or take John for example. He could write: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men....The Word became flesh and dwelt for a while among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5,14) Most observers saw what John saw—but didn’t see it. As John relates it: He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.” (John 1:10-11) The Beloved Disciple was able to take in the same sensory data everyone else did, but see something radically different. He saw Jesus!

Then there is the anonymous writer of Hebrews. Here was a man thoroughly familiar with Jewish thought and tradition and values. Yet he was able to see far beyond the Messianic speculations of his peers: In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days He has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom He made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word. After He had provided purification for sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. So He became as much superior to the angels as the name He has inherited is superior to theirs.” (1:1-4)

“Flesh and blood” could not have revealed these truths to this man. He must have experienced the real Jesus, by the mercies of God!

Have we?

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