Another side of Jesus

Easter

“God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36).

Many times when we talk about Jesus, we emphasize that he is our friend who loves us dearly.

While this is true, we, I surmise, have done this at the expense of the lordship of Christ. I am extremely grateful that I can call Jesus friend—I really am. But to say that my relationship with Jesus stops at loving friendship would be false.

The resurrected Jesus presents us with a triumphant Messiah. Instead of riding into Jerusalem on a colt (Mark 11:1-10), he will make his return riding a white horse (Revelation 19:11-16).

The rule of Christ and the authority attributed to him incites submission to his lordship. Jesus makes this clear in passages such as Matthew 28:18-20, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

The person of Jesus, then, presents us with an interesting paradox. While Jesus is resoundingly, emphatically and unquestionably Lord, he is also one who embraces on a personal level. In essence, he is both friend and king.

John 15:14 sheds some definite light on this reality, when Jesus says, “You are my friends if you do what I command.”

In Christ’s letter to the Church at Laodicea, we see combined both the reality of Jesus’s stern, authoritative nature as well as his desire for loving fellowship. Revelation 3:14-22 reads as follows:

To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth. You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich; and white clothes to wear, so you can cover your shameful nakedness; and salve to put on your eyes, so you can see.

Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.

For a while, I had been convinced that Jesus was addressing what was, essentially, a group of non-believers in this passage. After reading commentary and hearing sermons supporting this view, it made a lot of sense.

Jesus does say that he is about to spit (literally vomit) these people out of his mouth. Additionally, he describes them as “wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” That definitely does not sound very reassuring as far as one’s salvation is concerned, especially coming directly from the mouth of Jesus.

Certainly, if one were to read just verses 14-18 of Revelation 3, the resounding conclusion would be that the Laodiceans were a group of unconverted phonies. However, in verse 19, Jesus makes a statement that I believe points to the contrary: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.”

To this effect, Hebrews 12:5-7 states:

And have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, “My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son.”

Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as his children. For what children are not disciplined by their father?

Sonship, under the new covenant, is clearly paralleled with being reconciled to God through Christ or, saved, if you will. Romans 8:15-16 reads, “The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, ‘Abba, Father.’ The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children.”

In addition, 2 Timothy 3:16 gives a brief list of the functions that God’s word is to have in the life of every believer: “All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.”

Why is it important to make this point? Well, underscoring the salvation of this church makes us think of Christ in a different light, because this is the language he uses to address believers—and he is no respecter of persons (Romans 2:11).

Indeed, as believers, we are to “work out [our] salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Notice, though, that this passage tells us to work our salvation out, not to work for our salvation. Faith in Christ’s finished work is the only means by which salvation is obtained; it is not earned by works (Ephesians 2:8-9). The genuineness of that faith, however, is proved by the faithful endurance (1 Peter 1:6-7).

The Christ who we profess is worthy of adoration, reverence and, yes, obedience. The Christian profession dating back to within years of the Church’s inception has been “Jesus is Lord.” As a matter of fact, the Apostle Paul articulates that it is this profession that one makes unto saving faith (Romans 10:9-10). Jesus, however, lets us know exactly how useless this “profession” is if it is not followed by obedience.

He says, in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say?” Matthew 7:21 records these words of Jesus, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

Jesus is a really popular guy. I get it.

A lot of people want to be associated with him. With Easter right around the corner, I’m sure people are gearing up to have them some Jesus.

It is a great thing, don’t get me wrong. But we have to ask ourselves, especially at a time where there is a heightened sensitivity to Jesus, which Jesus are we going to present?

Will it be the best friend you can talk on the phone with all night? Or, will we highlight a king who reigns with an iron scepter?

As Jesus’ letter to the church at Laodicea suggests, I would say both.

The Christ of Christianity has the sovereign authority to rebuke and issue judgment, while also desiring intimate fellowship with each of us; “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

Let us, therefore, set our hearts and minds to pursue Christ in devotion, repentance and obedience.

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~ by christianballenger on March 27, 2013.

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