“Sir, We Would See Jesus” (John 12:21).
By Ralph Woodrow
The great theme of the Bible is Jesus Christ. The Old Testament types and shadows all point to him. In the New Testament he is revealed as the Lord from heaven. The first verse (Matthew 1:1) begins by talking about Jesus Christ; the last verse (Revelation 22:21) ends by mentioning him. He is mentioned at the beginning and the end, he is “alpha and omega, the beginning and the end” (Revelation 1:8), and the great theme of everything in-between! Almost every book of the New Testament begins by mentioning him in the very first verse! The early church “ceased not to teach and preach Jesus Christ” (Acts 5:42).
It has been nearly two thousand years ago now since the very one who made this world became a man and lived among men. All things were made by him….He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:3,10). He is the artistic designer and architect who took the hammer of omnipotence, hit it upon the anvil of time, and sent sparks into the heavens producing brilliant stars, many of which are thousands of times larger than this earth. He took the paint brush of deity and painted the sky blue and it has been blue ever since! He causes the sun to come up every day and set every night, right on time. He upholdeth all things by the word of his power (Hebrews 1:2,3).
He left heaven where rivers never freeze, winds never blow, frosts never chill, flowers never fade, where there is no sickness or death. He left the ivory palaces above and put on humanity that we might put on divinity. He became the son of man that we might become the sons of God. “As many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God” (John 1:12).
How strange and wonderful that this princely youth from the little town of Nazareth should be the chief engineer of all things! Can a man look at huge mountains, the ocean, and the worlds out there in space without feeling a strong reverence toward the author of these mammoth works? How amazing that he who was infinite became an infant, so small a woman carried him in her arms.
He lived in poverty. He grew up in obscurity. He had no wealth. He attended no college. Yet the record says: Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46). His relatives were inconspicuous folk living in a rural community. Yet in infancy he frightened a king, in boyhood he puzzled the doctors of the law, possessing greater wisdom than all of them put together; in manhood he ruled the elements. He defied the law of gravitation by walking on the water. He spoke peace to a raging sea and it carried him as gently as a mother would take her child.
He healed multitudes without medicine and made no charge for his services. He fed a hungry multitude with the lunch of a small boy. He broke up funerals. He gave life back to those who were dead, announcing the glad news: “I am the resurrection, and the life” (John 11:25). Though he was the Lord from heaven, he sat in the kitchens of small homes and ate with poor people. He tilted back his chair and visited with the people he had created. Some times he would even stay all night. The next morning, he who made the whole round world would say goodbye, and walk down the dusty road.
When he was born, there was no room for him in the inn. But since that time, millions have made room for him in their hearts. His presence has brought peace and joy. “Christ in you the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27). He was born contrary to the laws of birth. He lived contrary to the laws of life. He died contrary to the laws of death. He arose contrary to the grave. He ascended into heaven contrary to the laws of gravitation. He will some day return contrary to the desires of wicked men!
He laid aside his royal robe for the gown of a peasant. He was rich but for our sakes he became poor (2 Corinthians 8:9). He didn’t own the straw on which he was born. He didn’t own the boat in which he sailed. He didn’t own the beast on which he rode. He didn’t own the grave in which he was buried. He was born in another man’s stable; he sailed in another man’s boat; he rode on another man’s beast; he was buried in another man’s tomb. One time he said, “The foxes have holes, and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of man hath not where to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20). He was poor, yet he owned everything!
He never wrote a song, yet he has furnished the theme for more songs than all song writers combined. He never founded a college and yet all the schools in the world cannot boast the number of students who have studied under him! He never mobilized an army or drafted a soldier, yet no military leader has ever enlisted as many volunteers as those who serve him.
Centuries before he came into this world, Isaiah prophesied: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace” (Isaiah 9:6).
You do not need to be an astronomer to understand he is the Sun of Righteousness with healing in his wings. You do not need to be a geologist to understand he is the Rock of Ages and the Rock that is higher than I. You do not need to be a zoologist to understand he is the Lamb of God and the Lion of the tribe of Judah. You do not need to be a botanist to understand that he is the Rose of Sharon and the Lily of the Valley. You do not need to be a musician to understand he is the Great Harmonizer of all discords. You do not need to be a doctor to understand he is the Healer of all human ills.
Great men have come and gone. Jesus lives on! Herod could not kill him. People at a religious service could not stone him. Satan could not tempt him. Death could not destroy him. The grave could not contain him. The story of Jesus Christ is the greatest story ever told.
Jesus is the only man to ever live on earth in whom moral perfection found complete expression with no mixture of good and evil. He was not as other men of history whose virtues have caused them to be praised and whose vices have caused them to be condemned. There was no combination of good and evil in him. He was not merely a son of God; he was THE son of God.
The study of doctrine, or prophecy, or religious history certainly has its place. We admire great ministries and preachers of the gospel. But too often, I fear, people have gotten their eyes on people, doctrines, and religious dogma, instead of “looking unto Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Even Paul, with his education and vast knowledge of truth, realized the message must e “Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:2), lest people be robbed of the “simplicity that is in Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3). Profound sermons about the “Symbolic Significance of the Knotholes onNoah’s Ark” or “How Many Warts will the Antichrist have on his Left Toe?”, can never match or replace the old, old story of Jesus and his love! Any sermon, regardless of subject, falls short of its best objectives if it fails to properly exalt him who is our great example, Jesus Christ!
It is a sad state of things when people seek success without the Savior, healing without the Healer, gifts without the Giver, victory without the Victor, religion without revelation, Christianity without Christ.
Jesus was not a philosopher searching for truth. He was truth! He was not a mystic. He was reality. He was not a reformer. He was a transformer. He was not a visionary. He was the light of the world. He never reasoned; he knew. He knew why he came; from where he came; and where he was going. He knew who he was; he knew what he could do, and what the devil could not do!
Jesus Christ is not one of the great religious leaders of the past, he is in the now. He is the great I AM. He said: “I am the bread, I am the light, I am the door, I am the good shepherd, I am the son of God, I am the resurrection, I am the life, I am the way, I am the truth, I am the vine, I am the alpha and omega, I am the Lord I change not.” He is “the same yesterday, and today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8). “He is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:15-19).
Followers of the world’s religions will take you to the place where lie the ashes of the founders of their religion. But the Christian stands with joy before the open door of an empty tomb. The tomb of Abraham Lincoln at Springfield, Illinois, and the tomb of George Washington at Mount Vernon are regarded as sacred spots. The British have their Westminster Abbey where they bury their noble dead. But as Christians we rejoice, not in some beautifully decorated tomb under oriental skies, for Jesus rose again and is alive forevermore!
We are not worshiping a helpless infant lying in a manger of straw. We are not worshiping a little boy standing in the temple answering the questions of the doctors of the law. We are not worshiping a teacher standing by the shores of Galilee. We are not worshiping a dead body hanging limp on a cross. We are not worshiping a wrapped mummy. We are worshiping the one who is NOW “King of kings and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). It is not a case of him being crowned king at some future day, he has already ascended into heaven and been crowned Lord of all (Acts 2:36).
Jesus is holy, pure, immaculate, and it would be impossible for him to sin. Since he himself is the very essence of truth, it would be impossible for him to lie. He owns all things visible and invisible, so it is impossible for him to steal. He is the author of wisdom and justice so it is impossible for him to misjudge. He is infallible; therefore it would be impossible for him to make a mistake. He was, is, and always will be altogether lovely, perfect, sinless, and pure.
In spite of this, we read that “he came unto his own and his own received him not,” he was “despised and rejected of men” (John 1:12; Isaiah 53:3). Consider the false accusations that were made against him:
CRAZY, INSANE: “He is mad” (John 10:20).
DOUBT CAUSER, NEGATIVE. “How long wilt thou make us doubt?” (John 10:24).
BLASPHEMER: “We stone thee for blasphemy” (John 10:33).
BASTARD: “Where is thy father?” (John 8:19).
KEEPER OF BAD COMPANY: “Why eateth your master with publicans and dinners?” (Matthew 9:11).
UNGODLY: “This man is not of God” (John 9:16).
SINNER: “We know this man is a sinner” (John 10:33).
DECEIVER: “He deceiveth the people” (John 7:12).
DIVIDER, DIVISION-MAKER: “…a division among the people because of him” (John 7:43).
DEMON POSSESSED: “Thou hast a devil” (John 7:20).
A PERSECUTION COMPLEX: “Who goeth about to kill thee?’ (John 7:20).
PROVOKER TO ANGER: “Are you angry with me, because I have made a man every whit whole?” (John 7:23).
UNRECOMMENDED BY RELIGIOUS LEADERS: Have any of the rulers of the Pharisees believed on him?” (John 7:48).
LIAR: “Thou barest record of thyself, thy record is not true” (John 8:13).
SUICIDAL: “Will he kill himself?” (John 8:22).
BOASTER: “Whom maketh thyself?” (John 8:53).
BEELZEBUB: “They have called the master…Beelzebub” (Matthew 10:25).
UNEDUCATED: “How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?” (John 7:15).
LOW CLASS: “Can any good thing come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
FALSE PROPHET: “Out of Galilee ariseth no prophet” (John 7:52).
HALFBREED: “Thou art a Samaritan” (John 8:48).
DISHONORABLE: “Ye do dishonor me” (John 8:49).
LABORER: “Is this not the carpenter?” (Mark 6:3).
Finally certain ones cried out for his death. He was rejected as a traitor to his country, a heretic by his religion, an outcast from his family. See him as he prays in the garden. See him as his own disciples turn against him. See him as he is cruelly driven through an illegal trial. See him as he leaves Pilate’s hall. See the stained gown badly torn, hanging from his shoulders. His bare feet are leaving spots of blood on the cobblestone pavement. His back is bleeding from the stripes inflicted thereon. His face is covered with spittle. His hair is tangled in dry clots of blood produced by the beatings. A crown of thorns is pushed down upon his head.
At Golgotha wicked men nail his hands to an old rugged cross–piercing his hands that had done only good. Hands that laid the foundations of the earth and stretched out the heavens like a scroll–hands that scooped out the valleys and piled up the mountains–hands that unrolled a carpet of grass for humans to walk upon and laced the earth with babbling brooks and Mowing streams–hands that placed a furnace in the sun and started our solar system turning! (Hebrews 1:10).
His hands had blessed little children, had healed the sick, had opened the eyes of the blind, had demonstrated the blessing of the kingdom of heaven on earth. Now the men he had made and came to redeem were nailing his hands to the cross.
Earlier Jesus had predicted exactly how he would die that it would be by crucifixion. “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die” (John 12:32,33). This is remarkable, for in predicting his death, Jesus made it clear he would not die by old age, by sickness, by drowning on the sea of Galilee, or by being stoned according to Jewish custom. His death would come by being lifted up, the Roman form of capital punishment.
“Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). There have been men who have laid down their lives for those they loved–for their friends. Human love can go no further than this. But the love of God is greater than this, for not only did he lay down his life for his FRIENDS, but even for his ENEMIES he died! For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradverture for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:7,8).
“Surely he hath borne OUR griefs, and carried OUR sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for OUR transgressions, he was bruised for OUR iniquities: the chastisement of OUR peace was upon him; and with his stripes WE are healed” (Isaiah 53:4,5). It was not for his own sins he died–he had none. It was for our griefs, our sorrows, our transgressions, our
iniquities, our peace, and by his stripes we are healed.
The three crosses–on which two thieves and the son of God were hanging together at Calvary–stood in crisp, black silhouette against the darkened light of the sky. The earth beneath the feet of weeping men and women began to tremble from some vast, inner convulsion. Messengers, fleeing from the temple courts panted the frightening news that the veil of the holy of holies had been torn from top to bottom by invisible hands, a sign of dreadful and mysterious portent. The bodies of long–perished saints came tottering out of the prison houses of death, pushing away the stones rolled against the rocky caverns, and rising through the earth like divers up from the sea. They marched through the streets of Solomon’s capital and stared at feeble men cowering in doorways, showing their presence to old acquaintances (Matthew 27:51-53).
The unconverted world may acknowledge Jesus as a “good man” or a Great teacher,” they follow him to the cross and the tomb, but here, they suppose, it all ended. But if this were the case, if there was no resurrection, what became of the body?
One theory that surfaced at an early point was that the disciples stole the body of Jesus and hid it. Jewish leaders, fearing how far the message of the resurrection might advance, actually paid money to the soldiers who guarded the tomb to promote this lie! They “gave large money unto the soldiers, saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him and secure you. So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day” (Matthew 28:12-15).
Of course this theory is silly right on the surface. If the body was stolen away while the guards were asleep, how would they know who did it? It could not have been the disciples that took the body, for in the discouragement of those events that led to Jesus’ death and burial, the disciples themselves did not believe he would be resurrected. They did not understand the scripture “that he must rise again from the dead” (John 20:9). Even when Mary Magdalene saw the empty tomb, she supposed someone had taken the body away (verse 13). When she and those women with her actually saw the risen Christ, they ran to tell the disciples, but “their words seemed to them as idle tales, and they believed them not” (Luke 24:10,11). Obviously these men had not taken the body away. They were not trying to fabricate a resurrection hoax.
Only after Jesus himself appeared to them and showed himself alive by “many infallible proofs” (Acts 1:3) were they convinced. Thomas, who ultimately investigated his wounds and believed, was not the only doubter.
If the disciples had taken the body, they would have returned to their worldly pursuits and most assuredly not put their own lives on the line by preaching the resurrection. But being totally convinced of the reality of the resurrection, they were willing to face the impending persecution. In time Christians were thrown to wild beasts, were stoned, were sawn asunder, were hung upside down, were burned at the stake. It was not the disciples that took the body of Jesus–men do not become martyrs for something they know is untrue!
It was not the disciples–the friends of Jesus–that took the body. Could it have been his enemies? This will not fit either. As the disciples began to tell of the resurrection of Christ, thousands believed the message. Jewish leaders who had cried out for Jesus’ death were greatly perplexed. If they had taken the body of Jesus, they could have produced it, disproved the resurrection message, and Christianity would have come to a screeching halt. Obviously they did not have the body! If they had the body, it would not have been necessary for them to pay the guards to lie.
If the disciples did not take the body, if the enemies of Christ did not take the body, then what happened? As Christians, we believe the tomb was empty because of the RESURRECTION! It is at the very heart of the gospel. Were it not for the resurrection, there would be no Christianity. Even if Jesus had lived a sinless life, had overcome every temptation, had shed his blood and died–even with all of this we would have no salvation–were it not for the fact that he rose again. A dead savior could never give life. As Paul phrased it: “If Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14). But because he lives, we shall live also.
As a song by William and Gloria Gaither phrases it
Because he lives, I can face tomorrow,
Because he lives, all fear is gone,
Because I know he holds the future,
And life is worth the living just because he lives.
Another familiar hymn says:
He lives! He lives! Christ Jesus lives today.
He walks with me and talks with me, along life’s narrow way.
He lives! He lives! salvation to impart.
You ask me how I know he lives,
He lives within my heart.
Recognizing Jesus Christ as the great theme of the bible, some have described him from each biblical book in the following manner.
In Genesis He Is The Seed Of The Woman;
In Exodus He Is The Passover Lamb;
In Leviticus He Is Our High Priest;
In Numbers He Is The Fiery Pillar;
In Deuteronomy He Is The Prophet Like Unto Moses;
In Joshua He Is The Captain Of Our Salvation;
In Judges He Is Our Righteous Judge;
In Ruth He Is Our Kinsman-Redeemer;
In First And Second Samuel He Is Our Trusted Prophet,
In Kings And Chronicles He Is Our Reigning King;
In Ezra He Is Our Faithful Scribe;
In Nebemiah He Is The Rebuilder Of Broken Walls;
In Esther He Is Our Mordecai;
In Job He Is Our Ever-Living Redeemer;
In Psalms He Is Our Shepherd;
In Proverbs And Ecclesiastes He Is Our Wisdom;
In The Song Of Solomon He Is Our Bridegroom;
In Isaiah He Is The Prince Of Peace;
In Jeremiah He Is The Righteous Branch;
In Lamentations He Is Our Weeping Prophet;
In Ezekiel He Is The Plant F Renown;
In Daniel He Is The Fourth Man.
Who Is Jesus Christ?
In Hosea He Is The Faithful Husband;
In Joel The Baptizer With The Holy Spirit;
In Amos He Is Our Burden Bearer;
In Obadiah He Is The Mighty To Save;
In Jonah He Is Our Missionary;
In Micah Is Messenger Of Beautiful Feet
In Nahum He Is The Avenger Of God’s Elect;
In Habakkuk He Is God’s Evangelist;
In Zephaniah He Is Our Savior;
In Haggai He Is The Restorer Of Cod’s Heritage;
In Zachariah He Is The Fountain For Sin;
In Malachi He Is The Sun Of Righteousness.
Who Is Jesus Christ?
In Matthew He Is The Messiah
In Mark He Is The Wonder Worker;
In Luke He Is The Son Of Man:
In John He Is The Son Of God;
In Acts He Is Our Pentecost;
In Romans He Is Our Justifier;
In Corinthians He Is Our Sanctifier;
In Galatians He Is Our Redeemer From The Curse;
In Ephesians He Is Unsearchable Riches;
In Philippians Is Our Need Supplier;
In Colossian3/He Is The Fulness Of The Godhead;
In Thessalonians He Is Our Coming King;
In Timothy The Mediator Between God And Man;
In Titus He Is Our Faithful Pastor;
In Philemon He Is A Friend Closer Than A Brother;
In Hebrews He Is The Blood Of The Covenant;
In James He Is Our Great Physician;
In First And Second Peter He Is Our Chief Shepherd;
In First, Second, And Third John He Is Love;
In Jude He Is The Lord Coming With Ten Thousands Of His Saints;
In Revelation He Is King Of Kings And Lord Of Lords.
The Above Material Was Published By Ralph Woodrow, P.O. Box 124, Riverside, Ca. 92502. This Material Is Copyrighted And May Be Used For Study & Research Purposes Only.