Can you remember when the news was something you had to wait for instead of something you couldn’t avoid? (For those of you born in the digital generation, we used to catch up on the news by holding sheets of printed paper up in front of our faces … sheets of paper so large that it took both hands to hold them and turn the pages.) I took a stroll down that particular “memory lane” today by actually sitting down to read a newspaper.
Fifteen minutes later I threw it down in disgust. The “Local” section had described in gory detail a shooting in a nearby grocery store. An argument in the meat department resulted in one man shooting another. As the suffering victim dragged himself down the aisles, the gunman continued to shoot him every few feet. (The shooter was released on bail by the afternoon, although his victim was in critical condition!) The “National” section updated me on the constant bickering between our politicians in Washington. And in the “Features” section, I read the Pope’s Christmas message which called all child-molesting priests and bishops to turn themselves over to human justice and prepare for divine justice (even as the Illinois Attorney General announced this week that the Roman Catholic Church had failed to report 500 priests who had been accused of sexual abuse in a single diocese).
After throwing the paper down, I did what I do whenever I am soiled by a look at this sin-smeared world: I TURNED TO LOOK AT JESUS.
What a privilege to be a follower of the one man on earth who has never done anything to be ashamed of … the one amazing individual who walked through our sin-spoiled world without ever becoming sin-spattered Himself!
A man can walk past a mud hole and never feel drawn to join the pigs wallowing and grunting in the muck because he is made of different stuff. He has a different and higher nature than theirs; and because that is true, the man has nothing within him that gravitates toward the muck.
In the same way, Jesus walked through this world and never descended into grumbling or gossiping or grabbing what wasn’t His because His nature is different and higher than ours.
Yes, He had a human nature because He was fully human—but His was an unfallen human nature! He was the only example left on earth of what God dreamed of when He created human beings.
There is a nobility about Jesus which glows through the pages of Scripture even after all of these centuries. There has never been anyone like Him, before or since. He stands as the only example of His type: perfect in love and holiness.
When this world gets heavy to bear and creates a weariness in our souls, we can find rest simply by looking to Him!
He is walking refreshment. A mobile demonstration of the return of hope.
When you take a long look at the unbroken man, you will find your soul stirring to life and your hope returning.
There is no one like Him in all of the annals of history or literature. Here is a man who is simply and quietly and unpretentiously sinless. He doesn’t wrestle with the frustration of failure to achieve His own ideals. And we see no evidence of Him straining to be virtuous. His holiness is effortless and unpretentious. It is a beautiful thing to see.
And yet people (being fallen in their nature) were unsettled by Him. They rejected His kindness and doubted His sincerity. They even made the ridiculous claim that He was achieving this simple and beautiful life through a union with the Evil One! And yet their ungrateful reaction and malicious comments left Him unruffled and still loving.
- Did the synagogue rulers despise Him? When a synagogue ruler begged Jesus to heal his daughter, He left at once and brought her back from the dead.
- Were the Roman soldiers hated by everyone? He made a point of healing a Roman officer’s servant … and complimenting the officer on his faith in front of everyone.
- Women of slanderous reputations were welcomed into His inner circle, were loved for who they were as persons, and were offered free forgiveness.
Where we have a sin nature, He has a holiness nature, so His every inclination is the opposite of ours:
- He is the anti-murderer … who gives life and who IS the life.
- He is the anti-liar … who speaks and lives truth and IS the truth.
- He is the anti-adulterer … who is faithful to love all who are unfaithful to Him.
- He is the anti-thief … who gives you what was never yours to begin with.
- He is the anti-coveter … who longs for you to have what is His.
Take a long look at the Unbroken Man!
- Sinning against Him could not make Him sinful.
- Hating Him could not make Him hate.
- Taking His life did not keep Him from giving His life (and His forgiveness) as He died.
His name is JESUS, and the wisest humans that have ever lived all know that they are unworthy to untie His sandals.
Spend this year lifting high the name of Jesus. Make it your goal—and that of your church—to literally speak His name out loud more often than you ever have! Say His name when you are alone, in prayer. Say His name when you are discouraged, in songs. Say His name when you are with Christian friends, to remind them and encourage them. Say His name when you are with friends who are not yet Christians, to tell them about His amazing character and His gift of salvation.
Lift high the name of Jesus!
Let His name be on your lips in our churches. Don’t just say “The Lord,” or “God,” or “Christ.” Speak the name of Jesus! There is power in the name of Jesus! We are not told that there is power in the descriptions of Jesus or in the titles of Jesus. We are told that there is power in the NAME of Jesus.
God exalted Him to the highest place and gave Him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).