25 December 2010

Mosaic of a Master

More has been said, sung and written about Him than about anyone else throughout history. For twenty centuries, authors have failed to find the real person in their fiction; news documentaries and magazine writers have created Him in their image. The Book in which His story appears is read by more people, quoted by more authors and translated into more languages than any other book. His words are set to music; artists are inspired to sketch scenes from His life; endless words of wisdom are gleaned from His teachings.
Who is this prophet, priest and king— Jesus, the anointed Messiah, the Christ?
As a baby, He had wise men following a star to fall at His feet in worship. As a boy, He astounded theologians with His knowledge and wisdom. As a man, He calmed a storm with a mere word, multiplied food for thousands, and turned water into wine. When He taught, people said, “We’ve never heard anyone speak like this before.”
Today we are invited to search the Scriptures, for they speak of Him. Although many wish to divest the Bible of its miracles, its Author is a miracle worker. As a healer, He is supernaturally able to control nature, cure disease, banish evil and bind up the broken-hearted. He healed a leper, a paralytic, a woman with a fever, a nobleman’s son with a critical illness, a man with a withered hand and a woman with severe bleeding. He raised the widow’s son, Jairus’ daughter, and Lazarus from the dead. His desire to redeem is coupled with His power to restore.
All the words beginning with “omni” used to describe the nature of God also apply to Jesus. God is omniscient, all-knowing. “Now we can see that You know all things,” affirms John. God is also omnipresent. “Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” God is omnipotent, all-powerful. “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.”
God is eternal. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Finally, God is unchangeable. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” If we consider the Bible inspired by His own Spirit, we shall find the fulfilment of hundreds of prophecies.
The Old Testament paints a portrait of God by using such titles and descriptions as alpha and omega, saviour, king, judge, light, rock, redeemer, shepherd, creator, the One who gives life, forgives sin and speaks with divine authority: the Lord. In the New Testament each of these titles applies to Jesus. “When you look at the sketch of God from the Old Testament, you will see a likeness of Me” (Lee Strobel, The Case for Christ).
And then there were the claims He made about Himself. John, the beloved apostle, records His Master’s words: “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” We hear a faint echo in the psalmist’s words, “Before the mountains were born or You brought forth the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlast­ing, You are God.”
In the Old Testament, YAHWEH tells Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” God delivered His people from the bondage of Egypt; He is their ever-present help in times of trou­ble. Almost 7,000 times in the Bible when God is identified, He represents Himself as a rescuer: eternal, present, and willing to save His people.
So by the time the Son of God entered the arena, the Jews knew who God was. When Jesus said, “All that you know about God is true about Me,” they were outraged. For the blasphemy of equating Himself with the eternal God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “they picked up stones to stone him.”
And the parallels continue between the life-giving shepherd God and the Messiah: “I am the bread of life,” Jesus says. “I am the light of the world.” “I am the door of the sheep.” “I am the good shepherd.” “I am the resurrection and the life.” “I am the way, the truth, and the life.” “I am the true vine.” “These things are written,” John tells us, “that you may believe that Jesus is Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name.”
It is essential that we consider the claims He made; eternity is at stake. What He says leaves His hearers in no doubt: I AM—I am God. His claim to be God is either the illusion of a madman, the deception of a clever liar, or the truth; no other options exist. So who is this man— liar, lunatic or lord?
In Mere Christianity C.S. Lewis says,
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really fool­ish thing that people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say. A man who said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher… . You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”
In the words of Ravi Zacharias, “Jesus didn’t come into this world to make bad people good; He came to make dead people live.” He is the source of life: “For the LORD is your life.” When asked who Jesus was, Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” The choice we make about Jesus Christ is the only choice that matters for eternal life.
Today the Master asks each of us, “But who do you say that I am?”
For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on His shoulders.
And He will be called Wonderful, Counsellor,
Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace
(Isa. 9:6 NIV).