Friday, 19 September 2014
Don’t Miss Jesus in the Gospels
Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament takes some work, but how could you possibly miss him in the four gospels?
That seems crazy, since he’s there on every page. But just because I can read about him–his life, his teaching, his miracles–doesn’t mean I see him clearly. My vision is often clouded by my expectations. If I expect to see a moral example, that’s the Jesus I will take away with me. If I assume I’ll see an enigmatic wonder worker, chances are I’ll find him as baffling as ever. If I’m crushed with guilt, I may only hear judgment from him.
But most of all, if my goal and his goal get mixed up, I’ll have trouble seeing him clearly. Let me explain.
My goal is the same every time I open my Bible, to see Jesus more clearly as the promised Savior that I need. Why?
- First because all Scripture is about him, pointing forward to the need for his coming work or back to his finished work (Luke 24:27).
- Second because when I see Jesus I see the Father (John 14:9), and come to know him as the God who saves.
- Third because seeing Jesus is the catalyst for all the change I want and all the change I need (1 John 3:2).
What can I expect to see of Jesus in the Gospel of Mark? Like a post-modern film the scenes flash by. Mark’s camera brings Jesus into focus as the Servant King: the King who stooped to serve us by dying to save us. Mark 10:45 summarizes these two aspects of his mission:
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Servants don’t talk, they do. That’s why this gospel is much more full of action than words. Count how many times he uses the word, “immediately.” Notice how often he speaks in the present tense. See how many miracles are recorded and how relatively few teachings. In the words of Pastor and Author Kent Hughes:
Christ’s life is portrayed as super busy (he even had trouble finding time to eat–see 3:20 and 6:31)…You are also brought face to face with the human emotions of Jesus and the astonishment of the multitudes. Mark is the “Go Gospel–the Gospel of the Servant-Savior.”
Mark will help me see Jesus.
Jesus’ goal is to save me. Completely. That means rescue from sin, deliverance from bondage, and transformation of every flagrant and hidden flaw. In one sense, that can help me relax as I study this gospel. I’m not expected to change myself. That’s his job. He’s got the power and authority to do it. He’s got the kindness and gentleness to do it mercifully. He’s all over it.
One way I would love to change is to be a more willing, less grumpy servant. The recent Christmas season spotlighted my tendency towards grumpy service. It seems to be a particularly female trait: while the men are still sitting around talking, the women are up doing.
One afternoon this past Christmas my daughters and I were racing around the house throwing in laundry, getting kids up from naps, starting dinner, picking up toys, wrapping packages. Then we happened to look in the living room. There sat all the husbands, tablets in hand, playing an online game together. Bonding.
My response was not pretty. And my knee jerk response to that response was to feel bad and resolve to do better.
Don’t Miss Him
We miss seeing Jesus as Savior because of our inclination to self-improvement rather than salvation. If we just look at Jesus the Servant for an example to follow, we will find the Gospel of Mark burdens us with a morality we can’t measure up to. Instead we must interpret this Gospel through the atoning work of Jesus the Servant-Savior, who came to “give his life as a ransom for many.”
If I only try to pattern my life after Jesus’ example, I will walk through the living room of ipad mesmerized men and instantly feel self-righteous. Look at those time wasters! Or angry. Why don’t they get up off their duff and help us! Or envious. I wish I had time to goof off like that!
No, I can’t just mimic Jesus, I have to be transformed by faith in his saving work. I have to receive the Spirit of a Servant inside me so I will walk through the room and say, I’m so glad those guys are getting a break!
Jesus fulfills his goal as I fulfill mine. Seeing him changes me.