3 Reasons to Think Much of Christ
The Prince of the Puritan Theologians, John Owen, once wrote, "Let us get it fixed on our souls, and in our minds, that this glory of Christ, in the divine constitution of his person, is the best, the most noble, useful, beneficial object that we can be conversant about in our thoughts, or cleave unto in our affections." In so writing, Owen was reflecting the clear teaching of Scripture on the importance of thinking rightly about Jesus Christ. The Scriptures give us three primary reasons to think both rightly and much of Jesus. Consider the following:
1. Jesus is the emphasis of Biblical revelation: The Person and Work of Jesus, as the only Redeemer of God’s elect, is the message of the entire Bible--a message that is both authoritative and sufficient. Making use of different genres covering a lengthy period of history, the Bible points to and reveals the story of God saving sinners in Christ. Luke highlights this truth in his familiar record of Christ’s encounter with the two on the road to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35). These two despondent disciples were going to Emmaus discussing with one another the events of the previous days. As they were talking, Jesus drew near and asked them what they were talking about. Still overcome with sadness, Cleopas answered with something of shocked wonder, “Are you the only visitor in Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened in these days?” Always the master teacher, Christ responded by asking, “What things?” The two recounted the events, but, they missed the significance. Christ showed that they had missed the point of what all the prophets had spoken about, and that they should have known from Scripture that it was necessary the Messiah should suffer before entering glory. In what must have been the most captivating of all biblical theological lessons, Jesus began with Moses and all the Prophets and interpreted to these two disciples from all the Scriptures the things concerning himself. In order to think rightly about Christ we must see him as he is revealed in all the Scripture. If Christ is the message of the Bible, then we must heed that message and think rightly about him.
2. Jesus is central to the Christian faith. Everyone who has heard of Jesus has an opinion about Jesus. But not every opinion is worth having. You can pledge your fidelity to Christ, but if you think wrongly about Him that pledge is of little worth. This truth is highlighted for us in the Gospels. Matthew recorded a fascinating discussion between Christ and his disciples, a pop-quiz of sorts (Matt. 16:13-20). After performing many miracles and interactions with the contentious Pharisees and Sadducees, Christ asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” The disciples provided some insight as to how many viewed Jesus in that day. Some saw Him as a kind of forerunner to the Messiah--possibly a brought-back-to-life John the Baptist or Elijah. Others thought that He was possibly Jeremiah or one other of the prophets. Regardless, the people had seen and heard of Jesus, and yet had formed inaccurate views about Him. They were not Atheists, they believed in Jesus. But they believed wrongly about Him. In the same way, many today have thoughts and beliefs about Jesus that flow more from their imagination and preconceived notions than from Scripture. Jesus teaches us that one must believe rightly about Him in order to be a partaker of Him and His saving benefits. This is highlighted for us in the way in which he turned the same question to the disciples, asking them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” Jesus declared that Peter's answer showed that he was blessed; even declaring that such an answer could only come from his Father in heaven. The difference between being a Christian and not being one is more than mere intellectual belief in Jesus as one who existed, but belief in Him according to God’s revelation about Him in Scripture. This belief is supernatural as it is a gift from God. Thinking rightly about Jesus is central to the Christian faith. You must embrace Him as the Christ, the Son of the living God. The early church recognized this as they dealt with heterodox and heretical views of Christ that diminished or compromised either his divinity or humanity.
3. Jesus is the motivation and mindset for the Christian life. It is important for us to see this third reason as following the second. Before Jesus can ever be the pattern or example of the Christian life, He must be received as Savior. We do not become Christians by following His example. We become a Christian by believing in and resting upon the Christ who died for our sins and was raised for our justification. That being said, Scripture points to the close relationship between how believers live in this world and the incarnation of the Son of God. In Matthew 20, Christ concluded a discussion about the necessity of his death and about life in the kingdom. Greatness in the kingdom is in proportion to one’s humility and service. Christ and His disciples began their journey to Jerusalem. As they walked, the mother of James and John asked Jesus if He would give her sons a place at the right hand and left hand of Christ in the kingdom. The ten heard this request and were upset, most likely for selfish and envious reasons. Christ responded by giving a lesson on the distinction between ruling in his kingdom and ruling in the kingdoms of the world. The Gentiles rule with a heavy hand and use their authority to lord over their subjects, but it shall not be so among God’s disciples. They are to be characterized by humility and service. And then Christ said, “...even as the Son of Man came not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” The Apostle Paul taught the same thing when he encouraged the believers in Philippi to do nothing from selfish ambition, but in humility count others more significant (Philippians 2:3-5). Christ Jesus emptied Himself by taking on the form of a servant. Both Jesus and Paul both explained that the incarnation served as an example to believers, who themselves are not greater than their Master. Christ’s humility is a model to motivate and encourage believers to be humble and think more of others than of self. The ramifications of this mindset are far reaching. There is something about Christ taking on flesh that should factor in to how we treat our spouses, our fellow church members, our children. In fact, this principle should undergird everything we do--from how we Tweet to how we speak to and about others in our conversations.
Life is not about us; it is about Christ. As we live it, let us think rightly about Him. Let us, as Owen suggested, get the Person and Work of Christ "fixed on our souls and in our minds." Jesus is the emphasis of Biblical revelation, He is central to the Christian faith and He is the motivation and mindset of the Christian life.
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