Jesus, the perfect Jonah

Who is Jesus?

Matthew 12:41  The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

The story of Jonah is one of redemption.  The prophet was sent to a people that God wanted to reach with His message.  Jonah’s dislike of the people caused him to initially refuse the assignment.  But as we know, he eventually did go and the people did receive God’s message of repentance through Jonah.  Despite their turning their hearts toward God, however, Jonah still refused to love these people.

Contrast this with the story of Jesus, who obediently went to the people God wanted to reach.  Unlike the Ninevites, these people rejected Jesus’ message and did not turn toward God.  And here, unlike Jonah, Jesus chose to love them anyway.  He came out of His love and He remained in His love.  Then, in the ultimate act of love, He died for those who had rejected Him.

Jesus was the perfect missionary.  He lived out a perfect life as an example and spoke with authority.  Though the people rejected Him, He fulfilled the call of Jonah, making Him the perfect Jonah.

Let another praise

Pride

Proverbs 27:2  Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips

So if pride is so destructive and humility is the way to go, how can we go about being more humble?  How can we act in a way that is pleasing to God and not so self-centered and prideful?  What does the Bible say about how to do this?

The book of Proverbs is loaded with advice on seeking wisdom and keeping away from a prideful heart.  One tip that more of us should consider in our daily lives is being more quiet about ourselves.  It’s ok to have joy about a job well done or to tell someone if you’ve achieved something.  This proverb doesn’t mean to never celebrate good work, it just means not to be the kind of person who constantly self congratulates.  Boasting is definitely prideful and should be avoided.  Leave it to other people to give you props.

But here’s the thing.  This isn’t all about actions and behaviors.  It’s not about just not doing something like boasting.  This is a heart issue.  Not being prideful doesn’t just mean don’t act prideful.  This is about having a humble heart before God.  He knows our innermost thoughts and condition, He knows when we’re showing false humility and when we’re truly humble.

So don’t brag about yourself, not just because you know not to act prideful, but because you want a soft heart that loves God and puts Him first.

 

Jesus, the perfect Moses

Who is Jesus?

John 1:17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.

Long ago, God handed down the Law through His servant Moses.  We know the Ten Commandments but many more rules and regulations were established for God’s people – to show them how to be holy.  If one could keep all of the Law, they could be righteous.  The problem is, no one can keep all of the Law.  The Law does not have the power to enable us to do what it says.  It can guide, but its power ends there.

That’s where Jesus comes in.  He fulfills the Law because He’s perfect, but He also sets us free from the Law so that we don’t have to live under its burden.  Because He is righteous, we can be righteous through Him instead of through keeping the Law.  In Him we have forgiveness for the times we haven’t kept the Law because only one who has perfectly kept it has any right to grant that forgiveness.

His grace makes us free to obey out of love instead of obligation.  In fact, the more we understand His grace the more we want to obey.  The Law shows us sanctification, Jesus empowers us to achieve it.  He is the fulfillment of Moses’ calling – the perfect Moses.

God resists the proud, but…

Pride

James 4:6  But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

We’ve all seen the downside of pride.  The pain it can cause.  The alienation, the disappointment.  Pride can cut us off from God because the proud displace God in favor of themselves.  The proud make themselves into their own god.  This is why God resists them.  But there is hope.  There is grace.

Though God resists the proud, we find that He gives grace to the humble.  This doesn’t just mean that those who continually show humility receive grace.  God so freely gives His grace that even someone who recognizes their pride and turns to Him in humility can receive it.  He’s so willing to pour out His grace that He extends the offer to anyone that turns from their pride.

Humility is about putting God back where He belongs and ourselves back where we belong.  We’re not God and we do a good thing when we recognize that and admit it.  With God in the place of Lord and us under His authority, we’re able to receive the grace He offers.  Pride, however, won’t allow us to receive that gift.  Step aside!

 

Jesus, the perfect Adam

Who is Jesus?

Romans 5:18  Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men.

Adam, the first created man, was made to glorify God.  In everything he did from having dominion over the earth to naming every animal created, Adam was meant to be an image-bearer of God.  He was created in the image of God.

As you know, the story goes that Adam didn’t succeed at being perfect, holy, or righteous.  He, along with the first woman, Eve, introduced sin into the world.  They changed the whole story.  No longer could mankind live in harmony, in perfect communion with God.  The direct link between God and man was broken.

But Jesus also bears the image of God.  He wasn’t created, like Adam, He’s always been.  But where Adam fell short , Jesus succeeded perfectly.  Death came through Adam because he brought sin to humanity, but life came through Christ because He defeated sin and brought righteousness to humanity.

We needed one who had lived a perfect life free from sin to be our perfect sacrificial atonement for the forgiveness of our sins.  Jesus is that one, the one perfect image-bearer of God.  Because of Him, the image of God is us has been restored.  He is the fulfillment of Adam’s calling – the perfect Adam.

Pride will bring you low

Pride

Proverbs 29:23  One’s pride will bring him low, but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

Pride is one of those things in our lives that can go undetected, unchecked, and unsuspected for a long time.  We may think we’re doing just fine by behaving the way we are, never even having so much as a hint that we’re being driven by our own pride.  Then it happens.

It’s interesting how much easier it is to see pride in someone else’s life than it is in our own.  When someone comes crashing down after they let their pride guide them in all their decisions, we have an “I saw it coming” attitude, but when it happens to us it’s always a surprise.  The old illustration of boiling a frog seems appropriate here.  If you put a frog in hot water, he’ll jump out, but if you put him in room temperature water and increase the heat little by little, you’ll boil him.  Pride creeps into our lives in this way, not all at once, but a little bit at a time.  One selfish decision leads to another and so on.

But it can’t go on forever.  Everyone who is led by their pride will eventually fall and when they do it would have been better for them to bring themselves down in humility than to face the consequences of their pride.  We have many chances along the way to check our pride and make sure we humbly put it aside.  It’s better to do it voluntarily than to be brought low without warning.  Following the example of Christ will help us in this endeavor.

Jesus, the high priest

Who is Jesus?

Hebrews 5:5  So also Christ did not exalt himself to be made a high priest, but was appointed by him who said to him,“You are my Son, today I have begotten you”

In the days of the Old Testament priests, a sacrifice was made on behalf of the people by the High Priest.  This would atone for their sins for the period of one year.  In this way the priest brought God and man together.

Jesus is the perfect High Priest because He serves as both the priest and the sacrifice.  He brings God and man together by the shedding of His own blood, not that of an animal.  The sacrifice of this perfect Lamb is once and for all, not just to atone for a limited period of time.

Jesus didn’t appoint Himself to the position of High Priest, but He’s the only one who can fill the role perfectly.  Unlike all other High Priests who had to offer sacrifices for their own sins as well as those of the people, Jesus can atone for our sins by offering His own life in the place of ours.  And that’s just what He did.

Pride goes before destruction

Pride

Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.

Have you ever witnessed someone who seemed to have it all together suddenly tumble down from their high position, whether that means losing respect, losing money, or losing everything?  Beware of pride lest that be you in the future.  Pride has killed many giants, and it’s the root of many sins.

Things like lust, arrogance, anger issues, disrespect, irreverence for God, divorce, lawsuits, and many others on a long list can often be traced back to their roots in pride.  For so many of us, pride is not something we see in ourselves until it’s too late.  We carry on our lives without realizing that what drives us is our self-pride.  We ruin relationships, step on others, cheat, abuse, and sin all because of pride…and we don’t even realize it because we’re blind to it.

But if we ask God to open our eyes, to keep us from pride and to help us repent, He’ll show us the way.  Pride does come before destruction, but the good news is that we don’t have to remain prideful.  We can’t get over the problem of pride on our own, we have to turn to Jesus, but His power is sufficient to relieve us and bring us back to a humble demeanor under His grace.

Jesus, the friend

Who is Jesus?

John 15:15  No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you.

Can Jesus really be your friend?  The Creator of the universe, your BFF?  Well, it all depends really.  The first thing that needs to be pointed out is that we do not get to decide if we’re friends of Jesus.  He chooses us, not the other way around (John 15:16).

Secondly, there are stipulations to being a friend of God.  “If you do what I command you,” He says (John 15:14).  With Christ we don’t get a genie in a bottle who we can manipulate to get what we want.  We get a loving God who cares about us but expects us to give our lives to Him.

Are you a friend of God?  Is your whole life His?  You don’t get to take your ball and go home in this friendship if you don’t like what you’re hearing.  If the Lord of all chose you as His friend, you’re never going to be apart from Him.  In good times and in bad, He’s by your side.  When you need Him, He’s there.  When you fall, He’ll pick you up.  And best of all, He gave His life for you.  There’s no greater love than that (John 15:13).

Fear of death

Fear

Luke 12:4  I tell you, my friends, do not fear those who kill the body, and after that have nothing more that they can do.

One of the biggest fears we tend to have as humans is that of the unknown.  The powerless feeling that comes from not knowing what is going to happen can be terrifying.  Nowhere is this feeling of helplessness more evident than in the fear of death.  Many people fear death because they don’t know, and think we can’t know, what happens next.

But we can know what happens after this life.  God has revealed to us in His Word that we will live on eternally after this life, either in heaven with Him or in hell apart from Him.  Fear of death then, becomes less about not knowing what will happen and more about fear of going to hell.

Christians have no reason to fear death.  If we are in Christ, we know that we will go on to live with Him in glory.  To live is Christ and to die is gain for the believer.  We can know where we’re going after this life is over and if it’s into eternal fellowship with God, then there’s no reason to be afraid of dying.  Christ’s sacrificial death paid for our eternal life.

Equipping believers to follow Christ and make Him known