It’s been four chapters now, looking through and finding out about who Jesus really is. Did you ever read this passage, from later in John:
Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know[b]my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
The whole point of this whole study is to really examine who Jesus was, what he did, what he’s like, and what he said… because by knowing Him, we know God. And that’s the whole point, isn’t it? Later, in John 17, when Jesus is praying for us, he says,
“Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.”
This is eternal life: not that we know of God, but that we really, truly, know him in our lives. We know what he looks like and what he’s doing, and what he sounds like. We have a true, intimate friendship.
So what is he like so far?
- To begin with, He’s the Word. He is the message of God. His life shows us the message and the heart of God.
- He is One with God. The same way that a husband and wife are One, he is One with the Holy Spirit and the Father… his heart is united with theirs. He puts their interests above their own. He speaks as One united with them.
- He was in the beginning, and all things were created through him.
- He came to shine light into dark places, and to be the LIFE .
- He’s the lamb of God, who came to take away the sins of the world.
- He’s the Son of God.
- He must be received and we have to open ourselves to him to be a child of God.
- The Spirit of God rested on him, and stayed with him.
- He speaks to the desires, needs, and questions of our hearts.
- He calls us to follow him.
- Following him requires us to be willing to claim him.
- He speaks of spiritual matters that are sometimes beyond our understanding, but he also teaches us about them so that we can begin to understand them.
- He lived a normal life, with family and work and struggles.
- He cares about the problems in our life.
- He has power to affect things in this world, and in our lives.
- We can interact with him about the things in our life, the way Mary did.
- He is extravagantly giving.
- He performs miracles and wonders with power from God.
- He has answers to our deepest questions.
- He says that we have to be “born of the spirit.”
- He says He IS God. That he came to die to take away the sins of the world.
- He is worthy to be worshipped, and to be submitted to as Lord, and we ought to do that in order to correctly interact with him and know him and be right with him.
- He is merciful and tender and kind to us, and asks us to be the same way to others.
- He had human weaknesses, and understands our struggles, but even with them, he never sinned and did the wrong them about them.
- He was not elitist. He loves people the same, regardless of their social station.
- He sees our pain and has the power to meet us right there and minister to it.
And that’s just the first four chapters out of twenty-one chapters in John! This is just a drop in the bucket, describing the beautiful qualities and characteristics of our Lord.
But do you know what? It isn’t enough to see these things, to have heard them, to memorize them, to learn them. It’s not enough. Because the truth is, as you read over that list above, or skimmed over it, you probably did not see anything on that list that surprised you. If you have attended church, read the bible, or been a christian for any length of time, all of these things on this list are elementary facts about the Lord Jesus.
So the question isn’t really, do you know these things?
The question is, do you know Him?
Because it’s one thing to say, “God is good,” and it’s quite another to say, “God is good to me.” It’s one thing to say, “Jesus is worthy to be worshipped,” and it’s a very different thing to actually worship him.
The question is, how do you take these facts and actually let them affect your life. How do you take what you know about Jesus and turn it into actually knowing Him, for yourself?
I’m going to tell you how I do it.
In the morning, when I first start to wake up, I speak to the Lord. It’s not usually the same words every day, but it’s the same prayer.
Lord, I need you today. Father, I want to know you. Be near to me, meet me. Be in charge. Lead me and let me get closer to you. I’m anxious about ___, please give me an answer and strength and let me please you in that situation. Oh, Lord, let me know you. Speak to me, Lord. I love you so much, you’re everything. Please keep me from getting distracted or tempted away from you.”
It’s not all of those thoughts everyday. But that is my heart’s cry.
I get up, I go about my day. Often my mind is flooded with lists of things I need to do and relationships that I’m struggling with and worries of the day. Sometimes I’m excited about what the day will bring, sometimes I’m full of dread. I’m a very normal, moody woman. I’m not perfect, I’m not even great. I would give myself a C grade in life and with my attitude.
But this is how it works: Sometime, hopefully early in the day, I will open the Word of God. I read from a reading plan, or from something I’m studying. I have several non-fiction teaching books, I might read from one or all of them. I have podcasts and sometimes youtube videos of teaching and sermons. I try to take in good teaching and learning from several sources. I believe that we study the word and learn from other people not because that’s the only way to know the Lord, but because it validates or corrects the things I’m learning about the Lord. Thank God, there are believers all around this beautiful planet that are learning to know Him and teaching other people about him!
I homeschool my kids. It’s my primary job. It often takes most of my thought life and energy. I don’t know what your job is, but in homeschooling my kids, there are times of joy and times of stress and struggle. This is how I know the Lord during that time: I go to him with my struggles. I ask him for answers and seek him about the things that are problems. I try to please him with the work I do, and let it be an offering to him. I try to do my work in a way that will bring him honor and so that he will say, “Well done!” It’s hard to remember that he’s my boss, and not the state, who dictates my subjects and standards. He’s the One I’m working for.
I also have housekeeping, family relationships, teaching commitments, and sometimes farm errands to do. In those things, also, I try to do everything that I know the Lord has assigned me to do- and go to him when something is a problem, or making me anxious. To know him in a specific situation, what that means to me looks like this. I’m going to describe a hypothetical situation that is very, very realistic in my life:
Let’s say that my daughter has a toothache. She’s crying. My initial thoughts and feelings might be panic and angst, because I hate seeing my daughter in pain. To be very, very honest, I would also have irritation and frustration, because I’m thinking about my day’s’ plans that will probably need to change to accommodate this new situation. I also immediately will start to try to solve the problem. Advil? Call the dentist? Do I have a vehicle and time to squeeze in a visit? How much will it cost? Would it be wiser to use a natural, homeopathic remedy? All these thoughts are running through my mind. I may, probably, react to some or all of them in incorrect ways. I might feel frustrated and do something really dumb, like slam a book down. It might happen that my sympathy for her is the first thing I react in, by hugging her and immediately getting her Tylenol. But usually, after my initial reaction, (which I will admit to you is often the wrong thing,) I will think to myself a truthful thought: “God is in control.” Or maybe, “He has all the answers, and all the power. He sees my problems, and he cares.” At that point, I can keep choosing to let my emotions reign or I can quiet myself and listen to the truth. If I listen to the truth, I might hug my daughter, pray for her, and ask the Lord to give me wisdom to take care of the problem in His way. I might pray for him to relieve her pain, to miraculously heal her. I will probably pray that I will be able to manage all the things on my plate, the budget, and also take care of her pain in a way that works out well for everything.
At that point, when I’ve remembered the truth, and chosen it, I will often feel convicted of my incorrect actions and how it may have hurt someone around me. I’ll apologize for slamming the book, or yelling, or whatever foolish and hurtful thing I did. And at that point, I try to walk in the truth. I try to turn away from my initial feelings and make decisions based on the truth. If I can’t figure out exactly what step to take that would be based on truth, I often will ask someone who I trust, and who also walks in truth. Like my husband. It’s not often enough that I quiet myself and hear the Lord, and do what His voice tells me. I still am learning, and it’s easy for me when things are stressful to doubt what he’s telling me or to second guess His voice. So it’s helpful to get counsel from other people in my life.
Now this is a hypothetical situation, but it’s very, very very real for my life.
Here’s what the coolest thing is, though. The more I align my life and my actions with these truths, the more I try to follow after this way instead of my emotions, the more I see his will worked out in my life. The more I see that things work out for my good, that God has answers for my life and my ways and my needs and my deepest desires. The more I really, truly, experientially know that God is good.
But in order to have these truths come up and to hear them stronger than lies and emotions and fears, the more I have to study them and learn. It goes hand in hand.
This is how I live in abundant life. And as you read through my scenario there, you might think to yourself, Boy, it would be so much better if her initial reaction was to trust, instead of initially losing her temper. I agree!!! And to be honest, I am ashamed to even write that down. But let me tell you, fifteen years ago, that period of time in my life between my initial reaction and choosing to submit to God was maybe 3 days. And then, the more I know the Lord and practice going his way, the time in between shrunk to 2 days, and then 1 day, and then 3 hours, and and then 1 hour. And so to me, it’s so nice seeing it happen in shorter and shorter lengths of time. I look forward to the day when my obedience to the voice of truth is so instantaneous that there’s no gap. But maybe that will only happen in heaven. We’ll see!
I think that this is how Jesus lived: He instantaneously did the right thing. He was tempted in every way, but immediately chose what was right. This is how he showed us the Father, and this is how we see Christ: We let his life live out in us, by obeying the truth we know about Him. And then, not only do we see him in our lives, but everyone who looks at us sees him, too.
I hope this study is blessing you. It’s part of a study going through the book of John. If you’d like to know more, just click here.