Monday, January 13, 2014

Concerning Jesus

Life of Christ 1

          I've always loved to read, from my earliest days in kindergarten. About five years ago I picked up a really thick book, and opened it up, not knowing it would
change my life. Published by a relatively obscure 19th century European Presbyterian minister, The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah, checks in at 1,523 pages and a hefty four pounds. Its value, though, is not so much in its size as much as it is in its author. Alfred Edersheim was raised a Jew in Vienna, Austria before his conversion at the age of twenty.

          His background, so steeped in the literature and culture of orthodox Judaism (the modern grandchild of the Pharisees), brings a wonderful light to the life of Christ. In meticulous detail he sets the pearl that is Jesus in the context and culture of His own time, thus lending a much deeper understanding of all that Jesus did and said.

          For two years I read this book, slowly, methodically, and sometimes even impatiently. I cannot count the number of times I re-read a paragraph or a page, working my way through the thick prose. Sometimes I would set it aside for a time, but I always returned to it. As I moved into the meat of the book I discovered that my knowledge of the life of Christ was fragmentary at best, and disjointed, with no real sense of the flow and purpose of His ministry. I had attended church multiple times a week for the entirety of my life. I had attended a Christian grade school and high school. I had graduated from a Bible college. I had already been preaching for over twenty years, and pastoring for a dozen of those. To my shame I say I had somehow managed to build a picture of Jesus in my mind that was woefully incomplete. Edersheim changed that for me. Yes, he taught me many wonderful things, but most of all he lent me, through that dusty tome, an ever-growing desire to know Christ. I had been taught all my life to trust Him and to love Him. Now, for the first time, I was being taught to know Him.

          I began to study, laying out four Bibles on my desk (one opened to each of the four Gospels), Edersheim to the side, and various other books on the life of Christ stacked within easy reach. For hundreds of hours I sat at my desk and dug into those books, occasionally fact checking things online, and built myself a framework of Jesus' earthly life and ministry. Increasingly, I said to myself, I need to preach this, to share with my people the riches I was discovering.

          That time has finally come. Beginning in January of this year and ending in December, I will preach sequentially every Sunday morning, Sunday evening, and Wednesday evening the story of Jesus' life. Additionally, each of those sermons will form the seed kernel for a blog post, an entirely new endeavor for me, and hopefully a blessing to you as you read along.

          I believe holiness can be defined as being like Jesus, and that the better I see Him for Who He is the better the Holy Spirit can change me from me into the image of Christ (Romans 8.29,  II Corinthians 3.18). With this blog I am not aiming at the crowds thronging the easy religion of our day. They have heaped to themselves teachers having itching ears (II Timothy 4.3), men and women who will prophesy unto them smooth and pleasant things (Isaiah 30.10). No, with this blog I am aiming at the Christian who finds inside himself a burning desire to know Christ, who wants to love Him with all his heart, strength, and mind (Luke 10.27), and who bears inside of him an Holy Spirit enabling purpose to become less like himself and more like that holy and humble Galilean carpenter whose life 2,000 years ago changed everything.
If you would like to listen to the audio sermon that accompanies this blog post you will find it here -  Just launch the media player and choose We Preach Christ 1, 'We Preach Christ.'

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