My randomizing iTunes playlist brought up an oldie this morning and it sparked my tired brain. Usually I don’t notice much of the music I have playing constantly in my office while I work, but something about the lyrics struck me … my mind made a connection that stopped me and I just had to write it down quickly because I know how many people are interested in what I have to say (the answer is one).
That song that tickled my brain; Above All sung by Michael W. Smith (why that is still in my iTunes playlist, I do not know, but there it was).
The lyrics that caught my attention; “He lived to die rejected and alone”.
Wait … stop for a second …
“He lived to die …”? Are you sure?
Sure his death is important, but the thought that gripped me was this; how often do we, as Christians, skip over the life and words of Jesus thinking the only thing He came to do was to die?
This thought was fresh in my mind (and, thus, the connection) because just yesterday I read (and censored myself by not sharing my rant about) an article by a prominent evangelical who claimed Christians should support the death penalty. While not wanting to rant today either, I did find it interesting that in order to make this claim, the author did not once reference Jesus. That is because to do so would seriously weaken the claim.
And this is what we tend to do when we see Jesus’ purpose on earth being simply “to die”. We read about Jesus’s life in the gospels and see it all as simply preamble to the crucifixion and resurrection. We lose the connection between how Jesus was revealing God while on earth and how he revealed God on the cross; as if they were not different strands of the same message; self-sacrificial love, grace and mercy!
By skipping over Jesus’s life, we don’t take seriously His claims that his purpose on earth was to make God known completely; and this purpose included his death and life …
Jesus is what God is like.
Jesus is what God has to say about himself (the Word).
“And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent … I have made your name known to those whom you gave me from the world … I made your name known to them, and I will make it known, so that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.” – John 17:3,6,26
God is like Jesus. God has always been like Jesus. There has never been a time when God has not been like Jesus.
So, even though Jesus’s death was and is the climax of his life on earth, don’t be too quick to skip over His life. His life shows us what God is like. His death shows us perfectly what God is like and the extremes He will go to show us what self-sacrificial love is like. They are intimately connected.
Everything about Jesus reveals God’s character to us and shows us how we can live in new ways in order to be more like Him.