Jesus Christ’s relationship with us has been identified by many titles within Scripture. Jesus calls himself a prophet in Mark 6:4. The writer of Hebrews identifies Jesus as our permanent priest, who offered His own blood for us, in Hebrews 7:18-28. Jesus was also revealed to be our king in John 18:33-37. In Luke 17:5-10 Jesus compares himself to a master while we are his slaves. In John 15:13-15, in Jesus’ final hours with his disciples, He specifically raises them from the status of servants to friends. What a warm-hearted term for sinners to be called friends of the Lord Jesus Christ, the king of the universe! In Romans 8 we read how those led by the Holy Spirit are designated as sons of God which causes us to cry out to God with our whole hearts, "Daddy Father!" And further on in Romans 8 we read that God’s purpose is to conform us into the very image of Christ so that we will be brothers of Jesus Christ. Sinners like ourselves cannot hope to earn these relationships with Christ by our efforts of the flesh. Rather it is God that brings us through the furnace as a brother of Christ and brother in the family of Christ by grace through faith.
Paul and Peter were the primary New Testament writers that frequently referred to Jesus by yet another title, Lord and Savior. Paul opens his letter, "to Titus, my true child according to a common faith: Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior" (Titus 1:4 WEB). Peter closes his general letter to all Christians, "But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and forever. Amen" (2 Peter 3:18 WEB).
In this article we plan to examine more closely the beauty of Jesus Christ as our Savior and His trustworthiness as our Lord. It is essential that we know Christ to be both a beautiful Savior and a trustworthy Lord in order to continue to be His disciple. The commitment required by Christ does not lessen but increases as we draw near to Him. Jesus said, "So therefore whoever of you who doesn't renounce all that he has, he can't be my disciple" (Luke 14:33 WEB). We often draw the line far short of everything, reserving certain idols for ourselves. We reason in our hearts that we can give Christ all of one thing hoping to retain the other thing for ourselves. However, Jesus is not speaking with exaggeration or hyperbole here. To be his disciple we must give him everything. Of course even if we do not give everything to him, it is all his anyway! Thus, there is no possible way to give to Christ what is demanded unless one knows Christ as He truly is....
a beautiful Savior and a trustworthy Lord.
Jesus Christ Our Beautiful Savior
As Jesus carried the cross to Golgotha,
28) But Jesus, turning to them, said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, don't weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. 29) For behold, the days are coming in which they will say, 'Blessed are the barren, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.' 30) Then they will begin to tell the mountains, 'Fall on us!' and tell the hills, 'Cover us.' 31) For if they do these things in the green tree, what will be done in the dry?"
32) There were also others, two criminals, led with him to be put to death. 33) When they came to the place that is called The Skull, they crucified him there with the criminals, one on the right and the other on the left.
34) Jesus said, "Father, forgive them, for they don't know what they are doing."Dividing his garments among them, they cast lots. 35) The people stood watching. The rulers with them also scoffed at him, saying, "He saved others. Let him save himself, if this is the Christ of God, his chosen one!"Luke 23:28-35 (WEB)
The beauty of Christ’s salvation is measured by the extent of the forgiveness he has given. Christ did not merely forgive ignorant or misguided offenses of mankind. He forgave those who crucified him without reason. The forgiveness of Christ from the cross can only be described as beautiful, powerful, overwhelming, flooding, and consuming! His forgiveness is truly beautiful because it comes with the assurance of the guarantee of eternal life. This assurance of forgiveness applies directly to us as well should we ever find ourselves directly in opposition to the God of the universe. May God give us the grace to bring more lost sheep into the fold through the beauty of Christ’s forgiveness given personally to us.
Moreover we see that Christ’s forgiveness is without condemnation. Christ does not call attention to the wickedness of His executors, though it is obvious. Instead Christ’s plea to the Father is "they don't know what they are doing." We see further support for this when Paul points out in 1 Corinthians 2:8 (WEB), "which none of the rulers of this world has known. For had they known it, they wouldn't have crucified the Lord of glory." Thus the crucifixion of Christ does expose to us our sin, but Christ was never truly in the hands of men. Jesus came to die to demonstrate his grace and mercy to us and to accomplish His mission to atone for mankind’s sin. May God give us the grace to bring more lost sheep into the fold through forgiveness without condemnation and extending understanding that we sheep are often deaf, dumb, and blind to how terrible sin really is.
Jesus Christ Our Trustworthy Lord
At one point in Jesus’ ministry John the Baptist confessed his unbelief and Jesus likewise rebuked the people’s unbelief. Jesus then followed by saying,
Come to me, all you who labor and are heavily burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.Matthew 11:28-30 (WEB)
We have all had yokes placed upon us by others who enslaved us in the pursuit of their own idols. Towers of Babel abound and remain to testify to man’s insatiable desire to make a name for themselves. Consider a short list of such slavery...the pyramids of Egypt, the cotton fields of the South, Peter the Great, Hitler’s Germany, and the Roman Empire to name a few. The sin in our hearts is so inclined to these activities and the worship of the work of our hands that we need a God invasion to bring down our idolatrous towers. Of course, the easiest thing to do is to point at others and talk for hours about how they have taken advantage of us in these ways. The Holy Spirit’s work, however, is to show us how we ourselves have placed yokes on others.
Compare the yokes of men with the yoke of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ did not build a tower, pyramid, or boat. Jesus Christ did not even sit down and instruct his disciples in a 12 point systematic theology. I admittedly feel more comfortable with these types of yokes because the product is concrete, visible, and measurable with boasting in a job well done. The Lord’s yoke, however, is so different than the yokes of men. His yoke is easy and his burden light. One of my favorite verses is John 6:28-29 (WEB), "They said therefore to him, 'What must we do, that we may work the works of God?' Jesus answered them, 'This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent.' " My heart is often restless for the next assignment, but Jesus says that the work he wants us to focus on is trusting in him as he works his will in our lives. Jesus Christ is resolutely working toward His certain goal of building the church. Our role, however, is trusting in Christ, and Paul reminds us in Romans 3:27 that there is absolutely no boasting in that. May God help us to wear the yoke of Christ ourselves and free others from yokes of slavery for the yoke of Jesus Christ.
Repentance and Rest or Flight on Swift Horses
God spoke the same tender call to repentance and rest through the great prophet Isaiah.
15) For thus said the Lord Yahweh, the Holy One of Israel, "You will be saved in returning and rest. Your strength will be in quietness and in confidence." You refused, 16) but you said, "No, for we will flee on horses;" therefore you will flee; and, "We will ride on the swift;" therefore those who pursue you will be swift. 17) One thousand will flee at the threat of one. At the threat of five, you will flee until you are left like a beacon on the top of a mountain, and like a banner on a hill.
18) Therefore Yahweh will wait, that he may be gracious to you; and therefore he will be exalted, that he may have mercy on you, for Yahweh is a God of justice. Blessed are all those who wait for him. 19) For the people will dwell in Zion at Jerusalem. You will weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the voice of your cry. When he hears you, he will answer you. 20) Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teachers won't be hidden any more, but your eyes will see your teachers; 21) and when you turn to the right hand, and when you turn to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way. Walk in it." 22) You shall defile the overlaying of your engraved images of silver, and the plating of your molten images of gold. You shall cast them away as an unclean thing. You shall tell it, "Go away!"
23) He will give the rain for your seed, with which you will sow the ground; and bread of the increase of the ground will be rich and plentiful. In that day, your livestock will feed in large pastures.Isaiah 30:15-23 (WEB)
This passage in Isaiah now directs us to the real enemy that we need to confront. While it may be true that others have shown us unforgiveness or others have placed yokes on our backs while in the pursuit of their own idols, Isaiah, like an expert archer, directs the Word of God to our own conscience. Repentance and rest has been offered to each of us but we have chosen idols instead of fellowship with the Lord. The beauty of Christ’s salvation and the trustworthiness of His Lordship are often rejected for the pursuit of idols. The picture above of flight on horses from the Lord would be enough to make one cry, except for the Lord’s compassion even in the midst of our flight. Moreover, a glad day is promised that no longer will idols be in competition with the Lord in our lives. With our own hands we will destroy the idols that plague us in favor of fellowship with the Lord and His people. May God bring about this heart change both compassionately and quickly!
Our sin problem is so great and woven with the schemes of Satan that we truly are in a helpless plight. We are ensnared in the fowlers net in need of the Lord himself to free us. Consider four facts leading to freedom.
First, Jesus is a beautiful savior having already forgiven all the sin of mankind without one word of condemnation. He has completely condemned sin within sinful man, Romans 8:3. He has given grace upon grace to us His people, the sheep of His pasture. Do you believe that Christ has forgiven all your sin past, present and future as well as the sin of your fellow man?
Second, Jesus is a trustworthy Lord. He has no desire to build an earthly kingdom like we often do on the backs of the people. Rather He is building a kingdom of truth and righteousness in the hearts of His people, Luke 17:20-21. Thus we have nothing to fear in giving God our entire heart and committing our lives to His Lordship. Jesus is not a harsh task master!
Third, Isaiah puts his finger directly on the issue at hand, our idols. We may have legitimate grievances against others, but the heart of the matter for our own spiritual condition is our own idols. God wants repentance and rest for us His people, but we have turned from it in pursuit of idols. Skip the common idols of cars, houses, lands, and wealth. Let’s dive deeper into idols such as reputation, comfort, security, power, and influence. For each of us to become brothers in Christ these idols must certainly die.
Fourth, God has a great promise for us in Isaiah 30:22. We each know what idols we struggle with. We may even admit to ourselves that we love them, and therefore hate them all the more because of our addiction to them and because of their position between ourselves and the Lord and His family. God’s great promise is that He will change our heart so that we will willingly cast these idols aside so that there will be nothing obscuring the fellowship between ourselves and our beautiful savior and trustworthy Lord and His family.
Lord Jesus come quickly and remove our remaining idols so that we can see you face to face!