John pointed him out and called, "This is the One! The One I told you was coming after me but in fact was ahead of me. He has always been ahead of me, has always had the first word."
We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift. We got the basics from Moses, and then this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah. No one has ever seen God, not so much as a glimpse. This one-of-a-kind God-Expression, who exists at the very heart of the Father, has made him plain as day.
Over the last few weeks I have been thinking a lot about Jesus. I know, I know, I am a pastor so of course I’ve been thinking a lot about Jesus. Often as pastors we don’t think much about Jesus himself. There are many seasons where we are thinking about other things. We focus on growing ministries and all that entails. Sadly, it usually entails very little thinking and talking about Jesus.
I have been reading a book by N.T. Wright entitled, When God Became King. It’s a great read so far! In it he challenges us to think about the Jesus in the middle.
Wait, what does that mean?
Many of us focus on the Jesus of the manger and the cross. But, do we dwell deeply on the Jesus in the middle of those two events?
You see the “one-of-a-kind God-Expression” that is Christ is found in his birth, his cross, and also in his life!
When we place our sole or ultimate focus on his birth and death we can begin to relate to Christ in a purely transactional way. But, this Christ “who exists at the very heart of the Father,” is so much more than just his birth and death.
When we read through the Gospel of John I think we find that the second half of John 10:10 might be a bit of a thesis statement, “I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.”
It strikes me that if we want to learn to live the Jesus way we need to pay closer attention to the middle. We need to read and meditate on the life of this Christ who is the “one-of-a-kind God-Expression.”
How might we change?
How does his life challenge our lives?
What would it look like for us to learn to live and love the way that he does?
As awe inspiring as the birth of Christ is and as necessary as the death and resurrection of Christ is, the life of Christ is just as crucial to learning to follow the way.
When someone looks at our gravestone and sees the beginning date and the end date those are not all that interesting. What really matters is what we did with the dash in the middle. While the birth and death of Jesus has significance untold, his life is just as critical.
So, as we launch into this new year together, I hope you will join me as I seek to spend time in the middle with Jesus.