The Christian community thinks they have a pretty good idea of who Jesus is. We must. We put up posters of Him all over churches. We post images of Him all over Facebook. We even paint billboards of Him by the side of the road so weary travelers will see and experience a life transformation by the compassion in His eyes.
I don’t intend to offend anyone. I don’t want to hurt anybody’s feelings. And, sure, creepy billboards of a long-haired guy crawling around in a wheat field might appeal to someone. But how does that tell me who Jesus is?
Today’s verse is John 14:6.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.”
When I think about who Jesus is, this is usually the first verse that always comes to mind. This or John 11:25 where Christ is speaking to Martha at Lazarus’ grave, telling her that He is the resurrection and the life.
But have you ever tried to introduce someone so amazing you can’t express it in words? How do you introduce someone who Is?
It’s not something we can understand. The concept of being forever. I mean, we talk about eternal life and living for eternity, and that’s something we try to wrap our heads around. But what about the concept of always existing? Because God has always been. He is. He was. He will be. Jesus is the same.
When God introduced Himself to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3:14-15), Moses asked Him for His name. And this is what God told him:
God replied to Moses, “I Am Who I Am. Say this to the people of Israel: I Am has sent me to you.” God also said to Moses, “Say this to the people of Israel: Yahweh, the God of your ancestors—the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob—has sent me to you. This is my eternal name, my name to remember for all generations.
God is. Jesus is.
Neither of them used to be. They are. And even though they will be tomorrow, they still are today. The same as they were yesterday. The same God who spoke to Moses from a bush that was on fire but didn’t burn is the same God who put on flesh and came to earth and sacrificed Himself for us. That same God is the God who lives in those who believe in Him today.
I was talking with a friend earlier this week about the kind of life that Jesus lived when He walked Earth. It’s overwhelming to think about. Because Jesus is God. He was God then. He’s God now. So even as a Man walking around on Earth, He was God. He knew everything God knows. And that means, He knew every sin everyone around Him had ever committed and ever would commit. And He loved them anyway.
He knew why He was there. He was there to die for us. That was His entire purpose of coming to Earth. He came to seek and save those who are lost (Luke 19:10). And if it had been me, I don’t think I could have been gracious. I think I would have rubbed it in. I would have wanted to let people know — to make sure they understood the sacrifice I was going to have to make for them. But He didn’t do that. He loved people. He gave to people. He helped people. And He hung out with people who were broken, the dregs of society. The only people He showed no compassion to were the religious crowd who thought they were good enough on their own. Christ didn’t even waste His time with them.
So what does that mean for us?
To me, it means I need to take Him seriously. And it irritates me that the Christian culture is trying to represent Him in ways that are irrelevant. I guess I can appreciate a billboard with a Jesus-like figure painted on it. I guess I can recognize the need for black billboards with white letters claiming to be statements from God. I guess I can accept signs by the road that ask you if you’re ready to meet God when you die. Whatever. But those things wouldn’t mean anything to me if I didn’t already know Him.
I met Jesus when I was seven years old, and like any friendship, it’s grown over the years as I’ve learned who He is. But I can guarantee I didn’t come to know Him because I saw a billboard about Him. I came to know Him because people in my life introduced me to Him.
So, Christians, I think it’s time we stopped investing in creepy roadside billboards and got out into the community to meet people face to face. God is a face-to-face kind of person. He works through individuals. He always has, whether it was appearing to Abraham or Moses or Joshua or Gideon in the Old Testament or talking to the Samaritan Woman or to Zacchaeus or to Nicodemus.
And if you’re ever driving through Colby, KS, you need to seriously stop and look at this billboard. Because it is the creepiest thing you’ll ever see in your life. Just FYI.