Finding Jesus, The Way

Introduction

In this series, I have attempted to present Jesus as "The Way" to many blessings. Indeed, He is the source of every spiritual blessing that God has to offer:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, (Ephesians 1:3)

But how can we be sure that we have found the true Jesus and are truly His disciples? Jesus made it clear that simply believing in Him does not constitute true discipleship:

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed." (John 8:31)

How can we be sure that we are not actually following some caricature, a misrepresentation of Jesus, presented to us in error by others who are sincerely mistaken themselves (such as our parents, preachers, churches)?

To be sure that we have truly found "Jesus, The Way", we must begin with the only reliable source of information about Him: The Bible!

Surprising as it may be to some, a good place to start is with the Old Testament...

FINDING JESUS IN THE OLD TESTAMENT

Though completed hundreds of years before Jesus was born, the Old Testament contains many things about Him. Jesus made this point on at least two occasions after His resurrection. First, to the two disciples on the road to Emmaus:

And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. (Luke 24:27)

Then, later with the apostles themselves:

Then He said to them, "These are the words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me." And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures. Then He said to them, "Thus it is written, and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day, and that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem." (Luke 24:44-47)

Years later, the apostle Paul reminded the young evangelist Timothy of the value of the Old Testament Scriptures in making one wise concerning the salvation that is in Jesus:

But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. (2 Timothy 3:14-15)

How can this be? From the Old Testament we see Jesus through the eyes of prophecy! For example, from Isaiah we can learn such things as:

  • The Birth of Jesus..."Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." (Isaiah 7:14)

  • The Suffering of Jesus...Surely He has borne our griefs And carried our sorrows; Yet we esteemed Him stricken, Smitten by God, and afflicted. But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:4-6)

  • The Sovereignty of Jesus...For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace There will be no end, Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

Many more prophecies could be taken just from Isaiah alone (one reason why he is commonly called "The Messianic Prophet"). Other prophets have much to say about Jesus. It has been estimated that there are more than 330 prophetic statements about Jesus found in the Old Testament!

So we should read the Old Testament in our efforts to find the true Jesus! But as important as it is in helping us to find Jesus, it's purpose was predictive, to prepare people for Jesus. As Paul reminded the Galatians:

Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. (Galatians 3:24-25)

Therefore, to find Jesus more fully, we must also come to the gospels...

FINDING JESUS IN THE GOSPELS

It is here that we find the most complete record of Jesus' life and teachings while on earth. By God's Divine Providence, we are blessed with four different gospels, each with its different emphasis...

  • Matthew emphasizes the "teachings" of Jesus (especially in regards to the kingdom of heaven)

  • Mark features the "miracles" of Jesus, showing His power

  • Luke underscores the "humanity" of Jesus (without detracting from His divinity)

  • John stresses the "divinity" of Jesus (without detracting from His humanity)

Though accenting different aspects of Jesus' life and teachings, they all have the same basic purpose: to create faith. As expressed by John in his gospel:

And truly Jesus did many other signs in the presence of His disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name. (John 20:30-31)

The gospels help us to see Jesus through the eyes of fulfillment, as they carefully document how He fulfilled Old Testament prophecy (this is especially true with Matthew).

They also reveal what Jesus actually taught; therefore, no one can know Jesus without reading these gospels carefully. When we do, we may often be surprised to find out how different the real Jesus is and what He actually taught, from the one imagined by many! For example, many feel that they are going to heaven when they die; but Jesus taught that most will not:

"Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it." (Matthew 7:13-14)

Among those who will be surprised at the Day of Judgment will be many who thought they knew and served Jesus in their lifetime:

"Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, 'Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?' And then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!'" (Matthew 7:21-23)

Contrary to the "simple believism" that many people think is what is involved in following Jesus, by reading the gospels we learn what the real Jesus had to say about following Him:

Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost?" (Luke 9:23-25)

And one gospel even ends with a charge that many people who think they know Jesus do not take seriously:

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

The true Jesus left His apostles with the charge to teach would-be disciples to "observe ALL things whatsoever I have commanded you." Does this sound like the "Jesus" proclaimed by many today? Many people's concept of Jesus appears to be that He allows a sort of "multiple choice" when it comes to obeying His commandments! That is not the true Jesus!

By reading the gospels, then, we come much closer to finding Jesus and all that He represents. But by reading the gospels we also find out that He did not reveal the complete truth while on earth! As recorded by John in his gospel:

"I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you." (John 16:12-14)

Due to the apostles' inability to receive all the truth at that time, Jesus left it up to the Holy Spirit to complete the work of guiding them into all the truth. Therefore, to truly find Jesus and what His Will is for us today, we must also turn to the rest of the books of the New Testament...

FINDING JESUS IN THE ACTS AND THE EPISTLES

In the book of Acts, we see the fulfillment of Jesus' promise to send the Holy Spirit Who would guide them into all the truth. Only ten days after His Ascension into heaven, we read concerning the apostles:

And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (Acts 2:4)

As one reads through the book of Acts, they see the Holy Spirit guiding the apostles and the early church in its formative stage. Slowly, but surely, the Holy Spirit guides them into all the truth. The Holy Spirit even reveals things taught during Jesus' ministry but not recorded in any of the four gospels. For example, Paul reminded the elders of the church of Ephesus of one saying of Jesus:

"I have shown you in every way, by laboring like this, that you must support the weak. And remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He said, 'It is more blessed to give than to receive.'" (Acts 20:35)

Because it was the Holy Spirit who was guiding the apostles into all the truth, we find that the words and writings of the apostles (i.e., the epistles) were to be received as if from Jesus Himself! As Paul wrote to the church at Corinth:

If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. (1 Corinthians 14:37)

And to the church at Thessalonica:

For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe. (1 Thessalonians 2:13)

Of course, Jesus Himself had said that those who receive His apostles would in fact be receiving Him:

"Most assuredly, I say to you, he who receives whomever I send receives Me; and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me." (John 13:20)

An important point to be made is that the Holy Spirit did in fact guide the apostles into ALL the truth (cf. John 16:13)! In other words, with the gospels, the book of Acts and the epistles (including Revelation) we find the teachings of Jesus and about Jesus completely, fully, and finally revealed! No more revelation is needed. As Peter explained, we have all that is needed to live godly lives:

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord, as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, (2 Peter 1:2-3)

The apostle Paul also spoke of the completeness which the Scriptures provide:

All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)

As an example of how final the apostles' revelation of Jesus and His teachings are to be considered, notice what Paul told the Galatians:

But even if we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel to you than what we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed. (Galatians 1:8-9)

So with the writing of the New Testament, we are able to see Jesus through the eyes of completeness! All we need to know to follow Jesus as The Way is there, for us to learn it, and live it! No other revelations are needed. Our task is to simply remain true to what has been revealed once and for all:

Beloved, while I was very diligent to write to you concerning our common salvation, I found it necessary to write to you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints. (Jude 1:3)

But having said all this, let me emphasize finally that we only find Jesus when we truly obey Him!

FINDING JESUS IN OBEDIENCE

As much as we may learn about Jesus and His teachings in the gospels, Acts, and the epistles, we do not truly find Him as the The Way until we begin obeying Him! Jesus Himself stressed the importance of obedience to those who were simply believers:

Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, "If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed. And you shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:31-32)

Please notice carefully: "believing on him" did not make these Jews true disciples of Jesus! Only by continuing in His Word (obeying all that He commanded) would they become His disciples and thereby know the truth and the freedom it gives from sin.

On another occasion, Jesus told His apostles of the importance of obedience:

"He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him." (John 14:21)

Jesus answered and said to him, "If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him." (John 14:23)

When we keep the commandments of Jesus, He and His Father will abide in us, and we will have truly found Jesus! Or to put it another way:

Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, "I know Him," and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. (1 John 2:3-5)

Yes, by keeping His commandments we come to know and experience the true Jesus in our lives! This is especially true when we come to Jesus in faith and repentance, and submit to His command to be baptized:

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. (Galatians 3:27)

Having received (or "put on") Christ in baptism, we are now in Christ, where all things are "new":

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Corinthians 5:17)

Conclusion

Yes, all things are "new", for in finding Jesus by keeping His commands we find...

  • A Better Life

  • Forgiveness For Our Sins

  • Reconciliation With God Our Father

  • The Privilege Of Being In The Lord's Church (and not some denomination begun and propagated by men)

  • The Assurance Of Eternal Life

Have you found Jesus? Or are you following some cheap imitation of the real thing, which at the best is a misconception fostered by honestly mistaken people, or at the worst is being marketed in a slick promotion by those seeking numbers rather than disciples?

You have truly found Jesus if you are heeding the implications of His "Great Commission":

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen. (Matthew 28:18-20)

Those who have truly found Jesus are those who:

  • Accept the authority (power) He has in heaven and on earth

  • Have been baptized (upon faith and repentance) as He commanded

  • Are careful to observe ALL things that He commanded

Such are the only ones who have the assurance: "I am with you always, [even] unto the end of the world."They are ones who have "found" Jesus!

Let Jesus be Your Way to everything that is truly good! Trust and obey Him today!

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