If you ask around, read books and articles or watch the media, its mind blowing to see the different images people have of Jesus in our world.
Today, there is no shortage for opinions. Everyone has an opinion about Jesus – He is My Homeboy, a Good Person, Mr. Nice Guy, a Good Teacher, a Great Prophet, a man with a Cool Goatee, an Obedient Son, a Political Leader, a Crazy Radical, a Holy Man, a Jewish Carpenter, a Profound Mind, a Married Man, a Close Friend, a Cult Leader, an innocent Man, a Suffering GOD, so on and so forth.
Some references are true, some are partially true and some are out rightly stupid. People’s opinions about Jesus vary based on their experiences, knowledge, teachings and exposure. Lot of them are formed either because Jesus was misrepresented to them or plainly due to lack of proper study and research.
The Jewish community associated GOD with light. They were taught to sing “The LORD is my light and my salvation- whom shall I fear.” 1 This was not just another song, but was a song that reminded the community of how GOD had protected and provided LIGHT during their journey in the dark wilderness for 40 years. GOD was their flashlight, their lamp, their campfire, their lighthouse –their entire powerhouse.
One day, Jesus encountered them and said “I am the LIGHT.” This rocked the world of the people who heard it. Jesus not only said he was the light, but he also claimed to be the “I AM.”
The Jewish community associated GOD with the name “I AM.” I AM is the name by which GOD revealed himself to Moses in the burning bush. Now, Jesus comes into the picture and associates himself to the name that belonged to GOD and claimed to be that very GOD.
In other words, Jesus was saying, I am not created – I am the Creator, I don’t have a beginning – I am the beginning, I am not working for GOD – I am GOD.
It’s interesting to hear the different opinions people have of Jesus. But, who did Jesus actually say He is? He didn’t say, “I am your Homeboy,” did he?
He said, “I am the Light.” He said, “I am.”
He said I am God. Not just any god that we create and that serves us and our purposes, but the very CREATOR GOD who redeems us, cleanses us, changes us and uses us to serve His purposes.
Jesus said, “I am the LIGHT OF THE WORLD. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life." 2
One day a man called Saul was encountered by Jesus, the Light. His life was not the same anymore; it was turned upside down – for the good.
The Light EXPOSED his SINS: Jesus the Light exposed everything that was dark in his life. The sins of self righteousness, hatred, anger and pride scattered like cockroaches exposed to the light. Jesus brought everything to the surface and Saul, now called Paul who thought he was righteous did not find himself righteous anymore. He had to deal with his sinfulness in light of Christ’s holiness. He realized that he was sinful and needed God’s forgiveness and grace found only in Jesus.
The Light ENABLED his GROWTH: Living things need light to grow healthy. Only the light can enable growth. Paul thought that he had it all before he met Jesus. He had a great resume as a religious leader, had a zeal for God that made others look irreligious and was active and efficient in doing things for God. But, at the end of the day, none of it enabled him to grow. Doing Religion, playing church, judging others, beating down people with words and actions or comparing himself with others did not help him to grow. His degrees, status, knowledge did not make him grow. It was His fellowship with Jesus the light that made him grow. Some plant, some water, but it is Jesus the Light who makes us grow.
The Light GUIDED his Every STEP: Paul, before he met Jesus, did a lot of irrational things in the name of God bringing more damage and heart break in the lives of people. His decisions were self centered and heartless. When Jesus the light encountered Him, he provided light to his mind, life and path. Paul was humbled. His dreams, plans, ambitions and decisions were brought to submission to the bigger purposes and plans of God. He lived his life in the midst of his struggles in step with the Spirit so that God’s purposes would be accomplished in and through His life. Paul was led by the Spirit and learnt what it meant to live beyond himself.
The Light SHONE IN and THROUGH him: The bible teaches us that God is light and in him there is no darkness. Jesus said, “I am the light and those who follow him will never walk in darkness.” Jesus also said that we are the light of the world. Interesting, right? Listen, it has nothing to do with what we can do or what we cannot do. It is about the life of Jesus the Light displayed in and through us. The Apostle Paul lived this. He shone the light of Jesus in and through his words and actions that many people were naturally drawn to Jesus by his life. Some of us have a tendency to hide this light. Aren’t we called to Shine? We are meant to be on a lamp stand so that Jesus can be displayed in and through us. Let's not be ashamed or hesitate to commit.
Shine Jesus, Shine!
What fascinates me is that 'Jesus the light' encountered Paul on the road to Damascus. He exposed his sins, enabled him to grow, guided him and made Him shine for His glory. It was Jesus, all the way - from the beginning to the end. Jesus is the alpha and the omega.
Friends, it’s not about what you and I can do or cannot do, it’s all about staying in fellowship with Jesus the light. it's about allowing the life of Jesus be displayed in and through us and seeing God’s purposes accomplished in and through us. Trust me, when Jesus, the light – the powerhouse, encounters us, our world will turn upside down - for the good.
Let me close with two quotes:
Mother Teresa rightly points out,
“We need to find GOD, and he cannot be found in noise and restlessness. GOD is the friend of silence…The more we receive in silent prayer, the more we can give in our active life. We need silence to be able to touch souls. The essential thing is not what we say, but what GOD says to us and through us. All our words will be useless unless they come from within; words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness.”3
N.T. Wright writes,
"The longer you look at Jesus, the more you will want to serve Him in His world. That is, of course, if it's the real Jesus you're looking at."4
May we fellowship with Jesus, the Light, so that He shine's in and through us.
1) Psalm 27:1, NIV.
2) The Gospel of John 8:12, NIV.
3) Mother Teresa, a Gift for GOD: Prayers and Meditations.
4) N.T. Wright, Following Jesus: Biblical Reflections on Dicipleship