Let Jesus Mess With You
Jesus is not a topical cream
He is not a principle to apply
He is not an App to download
He is more dangerous than that
He is personal
He is knowable
And so are you
Follow me here. Walk with me here, not for application, but for attachment to Jesus:
- In his first chapter, John declares we can be reborn, not from a human understanding or plan, but only from a birth that comes from God. So the Word became flesh and dwelt with us. This is not “application” language. There is no need to apply here. In fact, you can’t apply for Jesus because you can’t qualify for this.
- Look at Nicodemus in John 3. He understood Jesus was a “good teacher from God”, but he failed to know Jesus. So Jesus messed with his learned mind, “Nic, you’re Israel’s teacher and you don’t understand these things? That you need to be born again?” No, Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night, afraid for the dangerous ramifications of growing close to Jesus. But to Nic, his encounter with Jesus doesn’t make much head sense… but it tugged at his heart.
- Look at the Samaritan Woman in John 4. “If you only knew who you are speaking to,” Jesus told her. She tried to talk to Jesus on a theological head-knowledge level. Jesus took her right to friendship. It’s that walk into relationship, not theological application, that transforms her. It’s not because she understood everything about Jesus, it’s because he understood everything about her and still became her friend and that changed her.
- In John 5 says, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me! I give eternal life.” (How are you doing with your Bible classes? Are you falling into an accidental apathy – the danger of understanding a lot but harvesting little?)
- In John 6, Jesus said, “If you want eternal life, eat my flesh and drink my blood.” (VOICE: Well the application of this principle is that… John 6:53 – That doesn’t sound like application language. That sounds a bit more transformational. Bring Jesus into your life, absorb him, digest him and let him change you. But this is too hard of teaching for many people to understand… Then, when he tells them that they must KNOW him, they walk away, infamously, in John 6:66.
- In John 8, Jesus says, If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”
- In John 10, Jesus says “I know my own sheep and they know me, just as my Father knows me and I know the Father. So I sacrifice my life for my sheep.” Jesus is not an application to put on to our life.
- Look at Peter in John 13:36. “Lord, where are you going? Why can’t I go with you now? I’m ready to die for you.” But Peter didn’t understand. He misunderstood. He misapplied what Jesus wanted and what Jesus was doing. “No, actually, Peter, you’ll deny me three times before the sun is up.”
- Look at Thomas in John 14. “Lord, we have no idea where you’re going, so how can we know the way?” “Thomas, Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Thomas, if you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. You know what, Thomas, let me be super clear: From now on, you do know him… and you have seen him!”
- But even with that, even with Jesus pleading with his disciples to see him, to know him, to be attached to him, Philip asks, “Lord, let’s just cut right to it. Just show us the Father, and we’ll be satisfied.” (Just tell us what we need to know for the test and we’ll give you a good scan-tron review at the end of the semester). Jesus is disheartened in that moment. Three times in the space of three paragraphs, by three guys who understood him better than most people, Jesus is not recognized for who he is or what he is doing. Instead, Peter, Thomas, Philip (and all of this is after Judas already left to betray him) all seek more understanding instead of relationship, proven when they fall asleep in the garden a few minutes later, while Jesus suffered alone. They can’t wrap their minds of head-knowledge-faith around the transformative friendship Jesus offered.
- “Philip, have you been with me all this time and yet still don’t know who I am.”
That’s the first danger of a Christian application life: Accidental apathy.
~~Attachment to Jesus looks so different:
- The thief on the cross – This guy didn’t understand anything! But when he encountered Jesus he was transformed. He’s perhaps the very first person in all of humanity to be guaranteed salvation. “Jesus,” the criminal called out, “remember me.” Jesus, arms stretched out, “You will be with me in paradise.” Now go wrap the thief on the cross in your nice box of theological understanding. Take that to your systematic class – but don’t wrestle with it in your head only. Don’t look for application. Wrestle with it in your heart. Look for attachment to Jesus.
- Or take, Zacchaeus – “Salvation has come to this house today” – Why? It’s because he had an encounter with Jesus that upended his life.
In John 20:39, Nicodemus seems to be going through a new birth. He took it upon himself to take Jesus’ body from the cross and help Joseph of Arimathea bury his body. John tells us that Nicodemus brought 75 pounds of perfumed ointment made from myrrh and aloes and wrapped Jesus’ body with the spices in long sheets of linen cloth. Something happened in Nicodemus that went from a head-knowledge where he wanted to understand Jesus to a heart-friendship where he was willing to put his own life on the line, and his finances, and his spiritual cleanliness, and his career, and everything upon which his whole life had been built, in order to be close to the man who told him to be born again.
Even the Apostle Paul, a guy we credit with having perhaps the greatest head-understanding of faith ever, said this to the first century Corinthian church: “For I decided that while I was with you I would forget everything except Jesus Christ, the one who was crucified… Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied only on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this so you would trust not in human understanding but in the power of God.”
In that way, the Bible is meant to pull us into a more intimate encounter with our Living Savior. The Bible was never meant to be a substitute for knowing Jesus. As Christians, our church services, our doctrine, our small groups and prayer times, our good works, none of these things was ever meant to replace our relationship with Jesus. No, each of those things exists so that we can KNOW JESUS and, as a result, be stirred to MAKE HIM KNOWN. We study, we pray, we learn, we grow with him, so that we will see him, believe in him, attach ourselves to him… so that Jesus will mess us up, for his glory.
Questions for Further Reflection:
- What do you understand about Jesus that is disconnected from knowing him?
- How could applying Jesus to your life lead to a “Functional Atheism”?
- How could knowing Jesus be dangerous for you after classes are done today?
- Where in your life are you afraid to see Jesus overflow?
- How would knowing Jesus change _________________ in your life?