We see the kingdom when we see the real Jesus.
At some point in our lives we must answer the question: Who is Jesus? People have tired to answer this question for two thousand years. It seems as though, in the culture we live, everyone has some sort of answer to this question. To some Jesus is our coach who motivates us to “make good plays” in our lives. Others view him as a friend who really just wants the best for us. Others see Jesus as a good moral example. He’s been called a good teacher and a holy man. As his followers, who do we say He is? What does the bible say about him?
In Sunday’s sermon, Pastor Steven said that we see the kingdom of God when we see the real Jesus. He reminded us that Jesus is the ultimate King. We must recognize his claim to this position in our own lives if we are truly people of the kingdom. This idea is contrary to the worlds ideas about Jesus. They want Him to be the coach or the good example but not their king and Lord. The want him to be there when they struggle but they do not want rule and reign over their lives in seasons of drought and abundance. Believer, do you acknowledge Jesus as king? Does the way you live your life recognize his authority of you?
John begins his gospel beautifully and poetically when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God, and the Word was with God.” John wanted to begin his gospel by answering the inevitable question: Who is Jesus? What was his answer? “The Word was God.” John Piper comments on this when he says, "“It took John more than three years to figure out the fullness of who Jesus was. But he does not want his readers to take more than three verses to find out what took him so long to realize. He wants us to see, fixed and clear, from the beginning of his Gospel, the eternal majesty and deity of Jesus Christ, our creator and King.” If this was not perplexing enough John goes on to say that, “the Word became flesh and dwelt with us.” When we see the kingdom being made real, here and now, we get a glimpse of Emmanuel, we see that God is with us. How is this Jesus we see John present, better than the false versions of Jesus that are so prevalent in our culture? What should our response be when we see the majesty and deity of Jesus?
Father, Thank you for sending Jesus to redeem us. Forgive us for not submitting to Jesus as God and King over our lives. Forgive us for when our eyes wander away from the real Jesus to any of the false versions that our culture would offer us. Please help us by the power of your spirit to put the real Jesus on display for all to see. We ask that you give us satisfaction in the real Jesus. May we long for nothing else. We are so undeserving of your grace. Yet, while we were still sinner you came to us and died for us. Jesus, thank you for coming to us as a servant king.
"Jesus Is Better"
Austin Stone Worship
Seeing the real Jesus changes us.
2 Corinthians 3:17
People become like the things they behold and worship. Psalm 115:8 tells us about idolators, "those who make [idols] become like them; so do all who trust in them." When we esteem created things, we start to view ourselves and others as objects rather than image bearers of God, made for God. We forfeit the dignity and joy of being distinct from the rest of creation, namely, that we bear God's image to reflect His glory. What are some idols both in our culture and in your own life that we tend to trust in?
Given our tendency to idolatry, it is significant that God set before our sights someone whom he commanded us to behold instead of idols. Throughout Jesus's earthly life and ministry, God the Father made much of His Son and told us, "Look! Here! This is my Son. Behold Him! He pleases me." Particularly, this happened in an extraordinary way privately before Peter, James, and John during Jesus's transfiguration. (Mark 9:1-9) How do we behold this same Jesus in the midst of our everyday lives? What does it do for our hearts to repeatedly, in the rhythms of life, look at Jesus?
To avoid the disappointment of idolatry and be who we were created to be, we must obey the simple command to behold Jesus. As we do, the same principle of beholding/becoming from Psalm 115:8 is at work, but in a positive way. We are promised that we are transformed into the image of Christ (made like Him!) from one degree of glory to another. (2 Corinthians 3:17)
How can we behold Jesus and be changed when we have not yet had the blessing of seeing Him? The answer is by looking at and for Him in the Scriptures. Reading the Bible individually and together is not an exercise in accumulating knowledge or justifying ourselves with a pious habit. Reading the Bible is about setting our eyes on the hero of the story of our own salvation and being transfixed and transformed by His authority, kindness, wisdom, power, and goodness. Let's be changed by God as we behold Him together in the Word. How is CBR journaling going? Take a few minutes to discuss this rhythm in your daily lives and encourage one another to make time for it.
God we pause to recognize and confess your both your holiness and your grace. You are set apart and perfect and yet when you look at sinful people like us, your heart is moved with compassion. We recognize your wrath and that we are deserving of it apart from the work of Christ. We thank you for placing him before our eyes in the scriptures and with the help of the Holy Spirit, we ask that you make us like him as we read your word. We want to be like Jesus. We want to pursue holiness. Help us to understand that we can't do it if our eyes and hearts are fixed on anything else. We thank you for Jesus.
"Jesus True And Only"
Austin Stone Worship
Seeing the real Jesus sustains us.
The writer of Hebrews likened our endurance in faith to running a race. At some point or another, we all grow weary in our race to follow Jesus and advance His Kingdom. The feeling of weariness that comes from day to day is often, if not always, the result of taking our eyes off of Jesus, His work for us, and the promised reward of rest. When we believe that everything we are doing in this life depends on us, that some obstacle is too difficult to overcome, or that the race itself is about our own glory, we will burn out quickly because we've forgotten who waits at the end of the course. Maybe you have experienced this recently. Discuss these experience together. How can we encourage one another to avoid this type of burn out by staying focused on Jesus? What are some practical things we can do?
That's why the discipline of beholding Jesus in the Word is so important. Seeing Jesus changes us not just once but again and again. It renews the mind daily. When we are heavy laden with burdens of life -- broken relationships, the pain of our sins and the sins of others, various trials and difficult circumstances -- the sight of Christ and his perfect work on our behalf invigorates us to keep pressing onward after Him. Take a few moments to share some current struggles and encourage one another to look to Christ in the midst of those burdens. Talk about how the good news of the gospel speaks to those struggles.
If you are weary today, consider Jesus anew. Let's read it together: "... let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, **looking to Jesus**, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. - Hebrews 12:1-3
Jesus when we are weak, give us strength from you. When we are hopeless, give us hope in you. When we are weary, give us rest that only you can provide. When we weep, comfort us. When we turn our gaze away from you, pull our hearts back to you. Sustain us as we pursue the race you have set before us. Walk along side us as our good shepherd. All of these things we ask of you, that we may make much of you.
"King of Love"
Austin Stone Worship