Saturday, April 18, 2009

Who Was the Boy Named Jesus?

We have a Sunday school idea of Jesus, don't we? The angel came to Mary and Joseph with the news of her pregnancy and they were thinking, "Oh, Sweet". Then, just like that, they end up in a barn having a party with shepherds who bring presents. We remember something about how Jesus was left in a Temple and his parents come back in about five minutes. When God proclaimed Jesus as His Son, Jesus then went from village to village walking on water and healing sick people, right? Who is the person of Jesus to us? A guy that always took short cuts across the water? Oft times, we hear the story of Him, but we keep him at a distance, like He's a divine robot. But are we overemphasizing Jesus' deity? We tend to think of Jesus as 98% God and 2% human. But Jesus was supernaturally a HUMAN BEING with human experiences.

In the second message, "Son of Blessing", of his series "Hello, My Name is Jesus", Johnson Bowie delivers a POWERFUL message about Jesus and His relationship to His Father. I was weeping over this one! John 1, starts with "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning." Jesus knew He was God, but Hebrews 2:14-18 clearly outlines the human side of God with clear human attributes. He "took on him the seed of Abraham", not the "nature of angels".

Being part man and part God is as hard for us to understand as the Trinity. We can try to make diagrams, but it doesn't really help. Jesus was 100% God and 100% man. These two natures are united without mixture. But we tend to think these to things just don't mix; God and man combined. So, Jesus was God, but He was hungry, tempted and thirsty. Jesus aged. He felt rejected. He felt loved and betrayed. He felt every single emotion that we've ever been through (yet He was without sin). 100% God. 100% Man. It is very difficult to understand how our God could die in our world! But because of this, Jesus can identify with us.

Johnson asks us to take a different and new look at Jesus' early days; His fully God, fully human experience. Mary was pregnant when she and Joseph traveled 60 to 80 miles to Bethlehem. She was probably in pain, uncomfortable and they were likely fearful of what was to come. Can you imagine what Joseph must have gone through when he learns Mary was pregnant? What a heartbreak and a confusing experience! It also had to be humbling because everyone knew she had gotten pregnant. He likely got to the point where He didn't judge others or care what others thought. This view on life was likely passed on to Jesus in large part because of His parents. After his birth in the desert in a barn, it was likely uncomfortable.

Shepherds, who were "ceremonially unclean" because of their occupations were the first to visit Jesus. The wise men brought gold which is what you usually brought a king, frankincense which is what you typically would burn to a deity and myrrh, which was a spice you would embalm a body with. It was honoring and strangely foreshadowing of Jesus' death. Isn't it amazing that 25 years goes by and very little is mentioned in between? What is that about? Wouldn't you think that there would be regular recordings of the life of the Messiah? In retrospect, its easy to ask, but JESUS WAS LIKE EVERYBODY ELSE. Bowie is funny and starts talking about all the things that were probably different from what we think today because of historical evidence. Jesus probably had short hair and He was probably a stone worker, not a carpenter. Interesting stuff. If Jesus had been born today, He would probably be the guy who looks like everyone else and works everyday and goes home. He experienced cuts, hurts and disappointments.

At this point, Bowie goes into this long explanation of the bar mitzvah of Jesus. We don't know if Joseph was alive or not because he had died sometime before Jesus was 30. But Joseph could not have genuinely proclaimed Jesus his son or as a man because he wasn't truly the father. The other children of Joseph had the privilege of knowing Joseph was their dad, but not Jesus. He certainly knew degrees of rejection. Can you imagine Jesus, when it took Mary and Joseph 3 days to find Him? He was in His "Father's House" and it had to be emotional for Him because He longed for His true Father's presence. He longed for His Father's approval.

The first time Jesus probably heard directly from His Father was when He was baptized by John the Baptist. God said, "This is my Son in whom I am well pleased." It had to be an amazing moment: an amazing affirmation. It might well have been the same affirmation that we all need from our fathers. But after 30 years of degrees of rejection and a sense of not belonging, here was His moment to hear from God.

Bowie closes by talking about how Jesus led by example in showing us that we can have a Heavenly Father who will respond to us as God did to Jesus. Time and time again, the Bible talks about us as sons and daughters of God made in His image. We can know as Jesus grew up truly knowing God was Divinely Dad.

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