LENT: Day 2 - The Jesus of the Gospels

LENT: Day 2 - The Jesus of the Gospels

Thursday, February 15 2018

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the first day of our Lenten celebration …

Why are we practicing Lent in these 40 days before Holy Week? Why are we preparing ourselves spiritually in order to commemorate the Passion, the Death and the Resurrection of Jesus? Why is this JESUS so central in our universe?

1)    Jesus is the center of history: in almost the entire world, history is divided into B.C. and A.D., referring to the date of Jesus’ birth (whether that date is completely precise or not)
2)    Jesus is the center of the Holy Scriptures: the Bible is not a haphazard collection of religious documents – Jesus Himself said: “… These are the Scriptures that testify about me …” (John 5:39)
3)    Jesus is the center of missions: those who go to the nations, making disciples, baptizing them and teaching them are not recommending  a doctrine, an ideology or an institution – they are recommending a person, the one and only Jesus Christ

Who then, is this JESUS, the center of all that exists? Let’s discover Him today in the four gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – each one giving us a portrait with a unique face:

1)    The Gospel of Matthew: Christ, the Fulfillment of the Scriptures

-    while the prophets of the Old Testament lived in the age of anticipation, the apostles of the New Testament lived in the age of fulfillment
a)    the Christ represented by Matthew was the fulfillment of every prophecy ever made about Him – 11 times throughout his gospel, the author explains: “All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet …” (Matthew 1:22, + others) – everything that happened had been prophesied, and everything that was prophesied was fulfilled … in Jesus
b)    the Christ represented by Matthew was the fulfillment of the Law – in Matthew 5:17, Jesus declared: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” – and how did He fulfill the Law? by living, and asking His followers to live, a righteousness that was not mere words of outward actions, but a righteousness that is pure in attitude and in the motives of the heart

2)    The Gospel of Mark: Christ, The Suffering Servant

-    in Mark’s understanding, it was central to see Jesus as a servant, suffering a death by crucifixion for the sins of His people – a Jesus who, after speaking of His own cross, would state: “… Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me.” (Mark 8:34) – there is no authentic faith or Christian living unless the cross is central

3)    The Gospel of Luke: Christ, The Saviour of the World

-    Luke was a doctor (Colossians 4:14) – educated, cultured and compassionate
-    Luke was a historian (Luke 1:1-4) – writing “the certainty of the things”
a)    The message of Luke: “good news” of salvation
-    on the one hand, the removal of guilt through the forgiveness of sin; and on the other hand, the gift of the Holy Spirit through a new spiritual birth – forgiveness cleanses our past, and the Spirit transforms our future
b)    The message of Luke: “good news” of salvation in Jesus Christ
-    in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (also written by Luke), in chapter 4 verses 11 and 12, we read: “Jesus is the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone. Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.”
c)    The message of Luke: “good news” of salvation in Jesus Christ for the whole world
-    Luke 3:6 says: “And all people will see God’s salvation.”
-    and Acts 2:17 says: “In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.”

4)    The Gospel of John: Christ, The Word Made Flesh

-    John 1:1 and 14 begin: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … The Word became flesh, and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, filled with grace and truth.”
-    the God of the universe did not simply visit this world, He became incarnate as a human being and lived among human beings - ¡what a paradox! the Creator of all taking on the human weakness of His creatures – the Eternal entering time – the Almighty making Himself vulnerable – the Immortal dying for us

JESUS: central to all that exists. Described by four evangelists, in four gospels, in four portraits, telling four versions of the same story. The most significant, the most transcendental story of a life ever lived. The story that brings reason and purpose to our lives. The story of our salvation from sin and death. The story of our eternal reconciliation with our Creator. The story of JESUS.

That is why we are preparing ourselves spiritually for the commemoration of Holy Week. That is why we are practicing Lent.

Dear friends: what gospel will you choose to read in these days in order to draw nearer to Jesus? On which aspect of His being and His life do you want to focus?

-    On Jesus: The Fulfillment of the Scriptures?
-    On Jesus: The Suffering Servant?
-    On Jesus: The Saviour of the World?
-    On Jesus: The Word Made Flesh?

Whichever gospel you do choose to read in these days during Lent, my hope and my prayer is that we might all know and love the incomparable Christ eversomuch more deeply.

(Taken from The Incomparable Christ, written by the late John Stott)

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