Hi I'm Josh Hawkins and this is episode 4 of Opening Up the Gospels. Before getting into the actual narrative itself, I wanted to take the first few episodes of this series to give the reasons why the Gospels and the life of Jesus is so important for us to know and cherish as Christians. In the first episode, I talked about true friendship with Jesus and what it actually means to be a Christian. In Episode 2, I addressed what I believe to be the crisis of so many different versions of Jesus that are being proclaimed by people today and how ignorance of the real Jesus can leave us disillusioned and could even lead us into apostasy. In Episode 3, I talked about how knowing Jesus and His life should actually lead us into missing Him and wanting Him to be here. In this 4th episode, I want to talk about perhaps the most important reason of them all. So if you've not been able to watch the other episodes so far, you've found a good one to start with.
The Gospels and the life of Jesus are important to us because Jesus is God. He's not just an ordinary man who was anointed by the Holy Spirit for doing miracles, He's not just a Jewish prophet, and He's not just a holy figure in a few of the world's religions. He 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. The Apostle John told us that He's the God that the angels sing "holy holy holy" to in Isaiah 6. 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. At every moment that is the one we're supposed to be seeing as we read the Gospels. All four of them - Matthew 3:3, Mark 1:3, Luke 3:4, and John 1:23 - open up with the testimony of John the Baptist declaring the one he was preparing the way for was Yahweh Himself. We'll look at this much more in a future episode. Yahweh is the one we are supposed to see - 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.
In the Gospels, we see how the unapproachable One dwelt among us in a human frame. If all we see in the Gospels is a good man, they may entertain us like the movies do, but they will never actually be enthralling to us. The Gospels tell us more about God than anything any man had seen or heard before that because Jesus is God. And this is the greatest reason why the Gospels are to be precious to us.
The Apostle Paul says in 2 Corinthians 4:6:
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.”
In context, Paul is talking about how the life and words of Jesus reveal to us what God is like. He brings us all the way back to the first moments of the creation account in Genesis 1. Let's look at that in verse 2. It says:
“The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters. And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness.”
Think about this for a second. When you walk into a dark room in a house, what do you start doing instantly? You pat down the walls near you for a light switch or you take out your smartphone and use the screen to make your path visible. Because no matter how hard you try, without any light you'll never be able to see anything in the room. And that's the way it was in the beginning. Genesis says that darkness covered the deep. Absolutely nothing was visible or discernible, yet in one moment God spoke "let there be light", and suddenly there is a mechanism by which things could actually be seen.
So let's go back to Paul in 2 Corinthians. He uses this concept and says that In the incarnation, when God took on human flesh and dwelt among us, we now have light - light to be able to see what God is like. This is what scripture just calls his "glory". We now have a way to see how breathtaking He really is. There really is no one like Him. His love, compassion, joy, jealousy, patience, and power are unrivaled. The window into the knowledge of God's glory is the Man that we call Jesus of Nazareth. The Bible gives us pictures of what God is like throughout the Old Testament, but what was just a photograph turns into a living, breathing human before us in the Gospels. Now it's not like the photograph of God that we saw in the Old Testament was a picture of a different person than what we see in the Gospels and the New Testament - it's the same God, the same person. We'll talk much more about this as we begin to look at the life of Jesus.
A phrase we use in prayer or in our worship songs a lot is "Lord you're worthy!". But what does that really mean? Well when we see something of worth, especially something that is intrinsically beautiful, we deem it valuable and sometimes call it priceless - Like precious stones or precious metals, or mountain landscapes or beautiful masterpieces of art. Think about how much of an injustice it would be if all of the world's gold and diamonds were confiscated and locked away forever, never to be admired. Likewise with something like the Grand Canyon - it would be a gross injustice if the authorities were to set armed guards all around it and prevent anyone from entering to view it's beauty. Why would that be unjust? Because all of those things possess worth and beauty in and of themselves, irrespective of the opinions of man and because they are intrinsically beautiful and should be esteemed and praised for that.
This is true even more so with God - He is the creator of beauty, therefore everything of worth ultimately derives its worth from Him. He is supremely valuable, incomparably beautiful, and unparalleled in His glory. That's why He is the one who is most worthy to be known and esteemed and praised. So if Jesus is God, and we have the story of His life available to us in the Gospels, that means Jesus' life is worthy to be known. Do you see that? Do we have any idea who it is that we're actually beholding as we read and meditate on the Gospels?
There really is nothing bigger and higher in Christianity than Jesus Himself. It's not like Jesus just died on the cross to get us in the door so we can move on to the deeper places of revelation or encounter with the Father and the Spirit. In John 14:
“Philip said to [Jesus], “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?”
(John 14:8–9 ESV)
Jesus was like "Philip, oh Philip, don't you understand? It doesn't get any better than this! If you've seen me, you know what the Father is like!"
And In Psalm 27:4 David said:
“One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple.”
This is what we do when we come to the Gospels and see the light of the knowledge of God's glory in the face of Jesus. This is what it means to "gaze on the beauty of the LORD" - we're not staring at a ball of light. We come to a Man named Jesus and look at His life and hear his words, and we do that because He possesses intrinsic worth and beauty. Now you can't admire the Grand Canyon and find pleasure in seeing something of such beauty if you don't actually go to it. Pictures of the Canyon may be entertaining, but if you're like me, pictures just make you want to actually see it with your own eyes. This is what we must do with the life of Jesus. More than hearing sermons or podcasts, this must translate to you actually opening up the Gospels and talking with Him about His story. He is so unbelievably precious and objectively beautiful, and our greatest joy is found in actually looking at Him - like actually going to the Canyon and not standing in front of the mirror waiting to hear affirming, ear tickling words and thinking that's where we'll find the heights of our joy.
So I hope you feel just a little bit more now why I want to do this series on the Gospels. I hope you'll track with me every week as we go on a journey of looking at Jesus. My prayer is that you'd become enthralled and obsessed with Him and the ache for His return increases in your heart. And if you're watching this and you're skeptical or you don't believe Jesus is precious, I pray that these episodes would be a witness to you of His beauty and that you would turn from self seeking and to the living God.
I hope you come back next week for another episode - I'll be talking about how to approach the Gospels devotionally through meditation and prayer. Be sure to subscribe to my channel so you don't miss any episodes, and check out my website, joshuahawkins.com, for much much more. God bless.