Seeing Jesus Rightly

July 16, 2013

The LORD, the Creator of all, clothes Himself with unapproachable light as a garment (Psalms 104:2, 1 Timothy 6:16), yet there was a time in history where He humbly clothed Himself with human skin and tabernacled among us. In the 89 chapters of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, we are privileged to behold the life of our Maker, the Man we call Jesus of Nazareth.

Seeing Jesus as the LORD changes the way we read the first four books of the New Testament that we call the Gospels. This single truth is what makes the Gospels exceedingly important to our growth in the knowledge of God. All four of them open up with the story of Jesus' relative, John the Baptist. According to Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4, and John 1:23, John's ministry is set within the context of Isaiah 40:3-10, where the prophet speaks about a voice that proclaims "the gospel" and cries out to "prepare the way of the LORD" and to "make straight in the desert a highway for our God". John the Baptist identifies himself as that voice, and the very next person on the scene is none other than Jesus of Nazareth. This is the way that Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John open and all say with piercing clarity: “Don't forget - Yahweh is who you're actually seeing as you look at Jesus”.

Jesus is the LORD, Yahweh, the God of Genesis 1, the Maker and sustainer of everything. His brother Jude told us that He is the One who shook Mount Sinai and led Israel through the wilderness (Jude 1:5). The Apostle John told us that He's the God that the angels sing "holy holy holy" to in Isaiah 6 (John 12:41). He's the God that slept under Mary's roof and ate her soup and bread. And He's the God that's going to return again in power and glory to restore creation as all the Scriptures promised (Isaiah 65:17-19; Acts 3:19-21). At every moment, Yahweh is the one we're supposed to be seeing as we read the Gospels - all the way from the crying baby in the animal feed trough in Luke 2, to the sleeping Man on the boat in Mark 4, to the One who fed probably more than 15,000 people in John 6, to the one who hung bleeding on a Roman cross in Matthew 27.

If all we see of Jesus in the Gospels is a good man "anointed by the Spirit" or merely the perfect model of how humanity was meant to relate to God, we miss the biggest reason why we have a record of His life. The stories may entertain us like the movies or motivate us like self-help seminars but they will never actually be enthralling to us and will never become the deepest, most life-giving root in our hearts as we seek to bear fruit unto God.

John says that God "was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him" (John 1:10). Though a day is coming when Jesus of Nazareth will be vindicated in the eyes of all as God Himself (Philippians 2:5-11; Isaiah 45:23), we have an indescribable privilege of seeing Him and knowing Him for who He is before that Day. Knowing Jesus for who He is in truth is the essence of what it means to be a Christian. Fight for this perspective. Ask Jesus to open His life to you that you might be overcome with awe and wonder. Your greatest joy and your salvation depend on it.

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About the author

Joshua Hawkins is a pastor, Bible teacher, and content creator for disciples of Jesus from College Station, Texas. He co-hosts The Apocalyptic Gospel Podcast, a weekly audio show exploring how a first century Jew would have understood the Gospel. He's also an all-around tech nerd and enjoys road cycling.

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