Encountering Christ

What a memorable incident it was for them that night! They were a small group of men, born for the sea, healthy and not liable to be intimidated by any trouble. But at that moment terror engulfed them. The boat began to fill with water. Huge waves covered the brittle bark. They concluded that they had approached to the very brink of destruction.

In despair they cried out, "We are perishing!" Another man happened to be with them on the boat. But contrary to their expectations he was fast asleep, drained out after a full day's work. And when they awakened him, he performed a deed that none other before him succeeded in doing. He immediately ordered the tempest to be bridled up. And so it happened, in a matter of a few moments.

We can imagine how the fishermen were astonished, and said, "Who then is this man, that he commands the winds and the sea and they obey him?" Yes, who is this Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Mary?

How many people make a name for themselves in their own country, about whom we have heard nothing! Poets, artists, politicians, about whom we hardly have an inkling. And what should we say about Jesus Christ? You may retort, "I have heard about him." But what kind of knowledge do you have about him?

Maybe you have heard the name of Christ since you were in the cradle, but still you don't know him as you should.

Can you really afford to approach the end of your life and still would not know how to answer this supreme question? And more than that, not to have a proper relationship with the Christ of God?

You may say, "Jesus was a great person, a good teacher, an excellent model, who even died for his own cause." When he walked among us, people said concerning him: "He is one of the prophets." Such praise can easily be given to many other personages. When it comes to Jesus Christ this is utterly insufficient. Once he challenged his own followers: "But you, whom do you say that I am?" Christ expects his disciples to know who he is, and unashamedly and without any reservation to so proclaim him to their society.

Jesus, born in abject poverty, the humble carpenter, homeless, and a servant even to his own disciples, made these extraordinary statements about himself:

  • to know him is to know God,
  • to see him is to see God,
  • to believe in him is to believe in God,
  • to receive him is to receive God,
  • to hate him is to hate God,
  • to honour him is to honour God.

"I am the Alpha and the Omega," he says, "the beginning and the end, who is, who was, and who is to come, the Almighty." Is it possible? Is he saying that he is God himself?

When you desire to check some statements about Christ, all the relevant and true information is found in the Bible, the book which Christ himself used to quote as "the Word of the living God," who cannot lie.

So what does the Bible has to declare about him? Many truths, such as follows: All things were made by him, and without him nothing was made which has been made. Evidently he is the Creator, who brought the universe into being, and whatever else exists. In the book of Isaiah he says: "Hear me, o Jacob, and you, Israel, whom I have called: I am he: I am the first, and I am also the last. Yes, my hands also laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread the heavens."

He not only fashioned the worlds, but is now maintaining all things in their existence, including you and me. Do you notice how exalted he is? - lifted up much more than we can imagine. Nevertheless many people still entertain unworthy ideas about Christ.

The Bible says: "God who made the world and all things in it, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made with hands, neither is he served by human hands, as if he needed anything, since he gives to everybody life and breath and all things."

Being supreme, this makes sense. And yet, you still find people thinking that they can limit the Lord and fashion his image with silver and gold, according to human craftsmanship.

All the same, Christ continues to be the very brilliance and glory of God, the perfect image of his person. And he upholds all things by the word of his power. Men may confess or deny, but truth remains inviolable.

For you, is Jesus Christ a mere teacher, in the same category with Socrates, Buddha or Marx? Are you simply impressed by his philosophy? Think about it. We don't even obey our own conscience, how much less can we submit to his high standards: "If your righteousness does not exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you shall in no way enter the kingdom of heaven...everyone who says, 'You fool,' will deserve to go into the hell of your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate perfect, just as your Father in heaven is perfect."

Jesus certainly reveals the corruption of our heart; by our own efforts we won't make it. If Jesus is just a teacher, he would be like a doctor who is able to diagnose your malady, and yet cannot heal you.

Jesus Christ is the One sent on a special salvage mission. Those whom the Father has given him will be freed. See his glory! He tells us: "This is the will of the Father who sent me, that I should lose none of those he gave me, but that I should raise them up at the last day. And this is the will of the One who sent me, that he who sees the Son, and believes on him, may have eternal life."

What honour are you ascribing to Christ? Is he a mere founder of religion, just like the others? Is he a great teacher, and nothing else? Or is he the Liberator who is able to save to the uttermost all those who draw near to God through him? The only Liberator: otherwise you will be making him a liar. For his said: "I am the door of the sheep. All those who came before me are thieves. I am the door: if anyone enters by me, he will be saved. The thief comes only to steal, and kill, and destroy; I came that they might have life, and have it to the full." Many reject such sayings as hard and unbearable. But those who are drawn to him by the Father see an infinite worth in him and obey him.

True, Christ is a stumbling-block to men, a rock of offense. But more than that, he is a rock of refuge from the divine wrath that is to be revealed in full measure at the Judgement Day.

And surprisingly enough, this Jesus, the meek and humble, the man who was despised and rejected and crucified, this Jesus will one day be your judge and mine. True! You may scoff: you are still accountable to him and will have to answer him for every word and deed. For God now commands all men everywhere to repent, for he has fixed a day, in which he will judge the world according to the truth by that man whom he has appointed, and has given proof to all men by raising him from the dead. God then has given all judgement to the Son, with one purpose in mind: so that men may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. That is, that they may recognize him as the supreme God.

We are warned that the axe is laid to the roots of the tree. How can you flee from judgement? There's no better way than to take heed to the voice of the Judge: "He who hears my word," he says, "and believes in him who sent me, has eternal life, and does not come unto condemnation, but has passed from death into life."

What a marvel! If you perish, my friend, it is only your fault. For how can you excuse yourself on that Day for having allowed such a great salvation to slip by?

Can you afford to remain indifferent or apathetic in front of Jesus Christ? Do you dare procrastinate? But before him you cannot be neutral. Either you are for him or against him. "He who is not with me," he warned us, "is against me, and he who does not gather with me scatters."

I will leave you with the same question that Pilate asked: "What then shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?" Everybody does something with him: some blaspheme his name, some criticise him, some turn their backs on him, some doubt him, some are scandalized by him, and some forget him...except for half an hour Sunday morning.

There are also those who prostrate themselves before him in worshipful adoration. And like Thomas, they confess before him: "My Lord and my God." They trust him in such a way that they are enabled to say: "For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." And they live continuously in the light of his presence.

Are you one of them?