Perhaps we have not "seen" Jesus in person as yet, but we do all have an image of Jesus in our minds. Often these images are created for us by the Scriptures that we have read, and/or the sermons we have heard preached, and also by our experiences and cultural ideologies.
I want to share with you images of Jesus from my younger years based on things I unwittingly absorbed into my mind as we went on the memory walks that we take with Jesus each year, as the Church remembers during this Lenten Season about His great suffering and sacrifice made on our behalf.
I must confess to you that I did not then see Jesus as a strong Man. I was trusting Him for my salvation, but actually with some shame, I came to realize that I viewed Him as weak, and fragile, and I guess anemic. I looked at the frail body and pasty white paintings of various artists, and I saw Him as very different as I looked at the golden halo the artists often placed around His head. It is true, Jesus was very different than are we, but at the same time He was one of us, and that is the part I did not comprehend.
I love it that Jesus referred to Himself, during His time on earth as, "The Son of Man" more often than did He by any other name. He intended to be one of us, because it was a necessity that He be one of us so that His Plan would be effectively enforceable.
I often heard sermons that stated how terrible and sad it was that poor Jesus had to die. "He was such a good Man Who only did good things," they said. I heard things about the horrific suffering He endured, and that part is very true; but I never heard, or perhaps did not understand, why He went through with allowing all those atrocities to be perpetrated upon Him, and all the while He made no effort to defend Himself.
I thought I heard preachers saying that Jesus was giving us an example about not defending ourselves, of being a pacifist; I must admit Jesus looked weak to me. There are some reasons for that too.
I was born into Wonderful WILD West Virginia. The mountains hold great beauty, and great dangers as well. We were taught survival techniques of all kinds. Daddy took us into the mountains and showed us what berries we could eat, and which ones were poison. He taught us to do the Indian Call with our hands, to help someone find us if we were lost. We learned how to drop and roll if we disturbed a honey bee or hornet's nest. We learned how to hear a Rattlesnake and to smell a Copperhead, and how to eventually find civilization if we got lost.
Our daddy also taught us to never start a fight, he said he would give us a whipping if he ever heard of us starting a fight. He also told us that if someone else started a fight with us and we did not make them sorry they started it, so that they would never want to do it again, we would also get a whipping for that. You see we had no telephone with which to call for police intervention, and no police to answer if there had been a phone. I add that there were almost never any fights.
So, because of my cultural upbringing I did not understand why Jesus let His assailants abuse Him while He made not one move to stop it. I think I never realized that the reason Jesus did not defend Himself was because He was a Man with a Plan; He was working His Plan as The Godhead had planned it long before the earth had any foundation.
Please read these verses of Scripture:
1. John 17: 24
2. Ephesians 1:4
3. I Peter 1: 20
These Scriptures began to spark thoughts in my mind that showed me what Jesus was, in fact, doing. If we don't read the Scriptures regularly we miss knowing a lot of information.
As Jesus was brought before Pilate He offered no comments of defense to Pilates questions; as He was dragged through the streets of Jerusalem, as His flesh was torn so badly with whips that He no longer looked human, as they spat upon Him and pulled out His beard with their fingers, as they laughed and jeered and celebrated His pain, He made no retaliation, but He had a Plan and a reason for the Plan, and all of it had to happen.
Jesus had told His disciples on numerous occasions that He must go to Jerusalem and be killed, and that He would arise on the third day. It was The Plan.
I now understand that it was His all consuming love for His creation, and His determination to buy us back from the separation from God that Adam # 1 had condemned us to; that was the motivation that kept Him going through with The Plan.
If He had not gone through with the Plan, He could not offer to us a free and paid for redemption, our salvation. But never should we think Jesus enjoyed the abuse and pain. His human flesh felt the pain exactly as would ours, but He was determined to go through with The Plan because of His love for us, His highly valued creation. In The Garden Jesus prayed to The Father to change the Plan if He could, Jesus dreaded it.
Paul tells us that Jesus, "For the joy that was set before Him, endured the Cross, DESPISING THE SHAME OF IT ALL."
Upon thinking about it, I can now imagine that Jesus offered no defense of Himself to Pilate because He was thinking, "Let's don't do anything to drag this out any longer." "For this purpose," said Jesus, "came I into this world!"
Many years before the Crucifixion, Abraham had told Isaac, "God will provide Himself a Lamb;" one to be sacrificed for a sin offering. John the Baptizer said of Jesus as he saw Jesus approaching, "Behold the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world."
Jesus was a Man with a Plan, and He fulfilled the Plan so that He could be our sin offering, to make peace between us and God, to redeem us, to buy us back.
There has never, in all of man's history, been such a demonstration of love and devotion and determination and yes, strength.
We are given description in Isaiah:53 of how Jesus felt about the inhumane beatings, and that He looked to God for strength to get through it. Please make a mental note that the verses in Isaiah were written long before Jesus appeared on the earth. Note also that Jesus did nothing to instigate or oppose the occurrences, and note that the Scriptures of Isaiah 53 happened exactly as God said they would.
Yes, Jesus fulfilled the desire of God's heart to come to us and to redeem us, to release us from sin's hold on us, but the amazing beauty of it is that He actually loves us, His creation, so much that He, Who is God, would go through with such a Plan.
You of course understand that any man with a Plan has a Purpose for the Plan.
When Jesus said His last words, "It is finished!" He was making comment to the completion of the Plan for the salvation that He can now offer to us, free of any charge. Never again does anyone, or any animal, have to die as a sin offering. Jesus has done that "Once for all." However, Jesus is still working on His Purpose.
I want to share with you briefly my salvation experience.
Jesus continues His Purpose of The Plan by knocking on doors, and if you wonder why I say that, then I call your attention to Revelation 3: 20.
It is Jesus speaking, He says, "Look, I am standing at the door knocking.." Now why does anyone knock on a door? They want to have the door opened, they want to speak to the person inside.
Jesus is also reporting to us that there are other things He is doing, " I stand at the door and knock, AND if anyone hears My voice, (He is calling to us,) and if he/she opens the door, I will come in and eat with him/her, and he/her with Me." We will have communion and communication, and community with God, forever.
When I heard this Scripture read and the preacher called our attention to the fact that in the Eastern countries of that time, there were no doors with door knobs on each side such as we have on our doors today, but rather there was only a latch with a string attached, and the door could be opened only from the inside. I did know that Jesus was asking to come into my heart house, so I visualized myself going to my door and opening it and I asked Jesus to come in. He did; and He has never left. His promise is that He never will leave us.
Jesus continues to be A Man Whose Plan is finished but Whose Purpose for that Plan continues!
I conclude with two questions that I invite you to think upon, or maybe I challenge you to think upon them: as we walk with Jesus this Lenten Season the rest of the way to the Cross, and to the Tomb, and the Resurrection, as we take note of the things He suffered and how He did not react with refusal to it, let us ask ourselves, "What is my inner image of Jesus?"
More importantly this question, "Have I opened the door of my heart to invite Jesus to come in to live with me in my house?" He knocks on every door, He calls to each of us.
To have fellowship with us and provide for us to live with Him was after all the Purpose for The Plan, and the reason He endured such horrific agony.
Thank You Jesus!!
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