Part III: What Jesus Taught Us
By now, I hope you've had the chance to read the first and second parts to this online bible study.
The third and final part to my online bible study deals with the focus of the bible. The person through whom everything was made, and through whom we all get to be with God forever - Jesus Christ.
Jesus is conduit through which we receive our power from God. Without him, there is no power. What were Jesus messages?
This study will outline who Jesus is and what he accomplished.
The intent of this study is not to cover every facet of Jesus messages, rather, I highlight his actions and words to show you how to live your life powerfully and free - the way God meant it to be.
Just Who is Jesus Christ?
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: Acts 15:1-11"
You know, it's harder than I thought to explain who Jesus is. So I must dig into my own experiences and try to explain Jesus through modern-day illustration.
About a year ago, I took my two sons to the local McDonald's Restaurant for breakfast and playtime (they have a play area in the restaurant I frequent).
After a healthy breakfast *ahem*, we proceeded to the play area where the boys could blow off some steam with the other kids, while I relaxed and read the daily newspaper.
Not long after I had settled in, a young lad pushed open the door to let his little sister in, followed by, who I assume was, their mother.
The little girl waited by the door until her brother was ready to join her. At first glance, I knew the little girl was "different". As she awkwardly made her way to the playset with her brother, it became apparent that she was severely debilitated by some disease.
I guessed, by her size, that she was roughly the same age as my youngest, who was five at the time. Although, given the apparent severity of the disease, she could have been much older.
As I watched the two of them interact, I was absolutely blown away at the gentleness, patience, care, and love shown by her older brother. I would guess his age to be around ten. Normally at that age, children are much more "into themselves", and have little patience for others.
Her brother would gently guide her up the climbing area, protecting her from the other children, who pushed by, paying little attention to the struggling little girl. At one point, the little girl ran up behind her brother and vigorously wrapped her arms around his chest and lay her head on his back.
Tears welled up in my eyes. I had never seen a more raw display of love in my entire life. The older brother was a perfect demonstration of love.
It's hard to put into words the sight that a witnessed that morning. I wish I could project my thoughts into your head right now so you could appreciate what I'm trying to say.
My point is, what the older brother did for his sister, is almost exactly what Jesus did, and continues to do for us.
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: Matthew 11:28-30"
Jesus wants us to be yoked to him, like the little girl was yoked to her brother.
To be yoked basically means to be "tied" together. Years ago, farmers yoked oxen together to plow the fields. There were several reasons for doing this. A young and old bull were yoked together for the young bull to learn from the more experienced older one. Another reason was that two oxen would be able to easily share the load.
Jesus asks you to lay all your cares on him because his burden is light. By "yoking" yourself to Jesus, you have the opportunity to learn from his life (by studying his words and actions), and you can literally place your cares on him for him to carry the load.
He wants to take care of us.
What does life with Jesus feel like?
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: Hebrews 12: 4-11"
If you are a Christian, you probably know by now, that Christian life isn't a bed of roses.
Jesus (sometimes through his disciple as in Hebrews...) tells you that the world will hate you, because you are not of the world.
What does it mean to be "not of the world"? Simply this, your life is not defined by world the systems, processes, thought patterns, or behaviours.
A Christian life is defined by Jesus; who He is, what He does, and how He thinks. A Christian is "retooled" to think, speak, and act like Jesus - in their own unique way.
The retooling does not happen immediately upon adoption into God's family, it happens over time (see 2 Peter 1 above), and during that time, you will struggle with many things.
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: John 15:18-19"
When you struggle with sin, there will come a time when Jesus needs to punish you, and literally "teach you a lesson". Hebrews 12 tells you not to make light of the Lord's discipline, nor should you lose heart - because He is treating you as a son (or daughter) when he punishes you.
That is a profound statement. Treating you as a son...if that doesn't bring God close to you, I don't know what will.
Jesus punishes us for our sins. Now, he doesn't sit and count every sin and say, "Well, three sins today. Hm. That means, three lashes with the "accident" whip tomorrow."
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: Matthew 21:12-13"
No, Jesus focuses on patterns of behavior, attitudes, and habits, gradually changing them through various means. Remember, he is gentle. He'll gently guide you - if you let him.
If you are going through a particularly rough time right now, stop, look, listen (as apposed to stop, drop and roll - that's when you're on fire. If you haven't accepted Jesus as your savior, you'll be doing that for eternity, so you might want to get some practice in now ;-).
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: James 1:2-4;"
Is what you are suffering related to a particular bad habit you have? Or a result of a bad decision that you knew better than to make?
I'd be willing to bet it is. That's Jesus talking to you. He's asking you to pull up your socks, stop sinning and get on with a better way of life.
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: 2 Peter 1:3-11"
ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS stop, look, and listen, even if things are going well. Jesus may be trying to show you something; an opportunity to help, a nagging sin, or a bad attitude.
Did I mention he was gentle?
That said, there are times when Jesus must "clear out the temple". Yep, at some point, don't be surprised if you're hit with a sudden wave of make-the-bad-man-stop type of stuff. Financial trouble, girl problems, boy problems, parent problems, disease, accidents, you name it, it happens.
Once again, what's the rule? Stop. Look. Listen.
"Keep your ear to the ground," as they used to say. Jesus is talking to you.
He may not be punishing you, he may just be saying, "Hold on. I'm right here. Be strong, I'll get you through it. Have faith..."
Right. So what's this power you keep talking about?
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 10:23-26"
It's true. Christians all have spiritual gifts.
Some gifts can be perceived as "powerful", while others are not.
Jesus isn't concerned about "real power", and if Jesus isn't, neither should you.
I'm sorry if you were misled into thinking that you were going to receive some supernatural, fly-around-the-world-without-a-cape power, but for the majority of us, that won't be the case. Although - I'm not ruling it out. God has done some awful cool stuff in the past, and as he states in the Old and New Testaments, he does not change!
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: Romans 12:6-8"
Romans and Corinthians tells you that you receive gifts from the spirit upon adoption into God's family. I won't go into details on spiritual gifts, that's a whole course in itself. I will say that it is your job to figure out what gifts you have, and utilize them for Jesus sake.
The real power that Jesus provides you with is a guilt-free life. Note that that doesn't mean a consequence-free life.
Jesus frees you from the guilt of sin. He also frees you from the power that sin has over your flesh. Remember when I pointed out that Jesus asks you to be "yoked to him" - that is power. When you are weak, he is strong, and he'll carry you over the finish line.
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: 1 Corinthians 12"
One of my favorite movie lines comes from Good Will Hunting.
Will comes out of the bar where he just got the girl's phone number and spots the guy he was competing with. He goes over to the guy and says, "Do you like apples?"
The guy says, "Uh. Yeah."
To which Will replies, "Well I got her number. How do you like them apples?"
Cracks me up every time.
(Note: If you are a parent, Good Will Hunting is certainly not for children. There is a fair bit of swearing - but the story is amazing if you can get past the swearing in it).
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: Malachi 3:6-7"
The point to that side track is - Jesus basically did the same thing to satan when he rose from the dead.
"Do you like apples?" Jesus said to satan.
"Uh, yeah. It worked for Eve."
"Well, I sacrifice myself and forgave their sins. How do you like them apples?"
Ahhhh, sweet, sweet victory. I love it.
"Jesus Messages Bible Reading: James 1:16-18"
The real, underlying, awesome power that Jesus gives you is confidence. Confidence in Him, confidence in you, and confidence in the outcome.
You can go through life, do anything you want (with consequences), and live with the fact that Jesus took care of eternity for you - if you have faith in him.
Now go out there and spread Jesus messages. Just be gentle, though...