Jesus at the Center – Part 1

Norbert Lieth

MES17 0111 1With nearly 360,000 inhabitants, Bezirk Mitte is the central district of the German capital, Berlin, where a total of 3.5 million people live. Bezirk Mitte is not only the administrative district for the city of Berlin, but also the seat of the Bundestag and Bundesrat (the two houses of the legislature), and the Bundesregierung (the executive branch) of the federal government. Germany, a country with a population of 80 million people, is ruled from this center. Christianity also has a central point, and that is the Lord Jesus. He wants to govern us from His center. Unfortunately, however, He is continually pushed aside because many Christians want to live according to their own rules. He is at most the first violin but not the conductor.

The Gospels, and finally Revelation, show what it means when the Lord Jesus is the central point, and we do not give Him a part of our lives but our whole lives.

In Luke 2:46 we meet the Lord Jesus as a pupil: “And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.”

A short while ago, I praised a child for something. He answered, “Yes, I go to kindergarten already.” That is good but not the end. Even Jesus Christ needed to be taught and to learn as the Son of man. This episode from His childhood makes us aware of this (Hebrews 5:8).

Jesus developed physically. He had to learn to walk. Jesus developed mentally also, however. He had to learn to speak. He had to develop spiritually. He had to learn the Torah. Here we can worship the true incarnation of the eternal Son of God.

Our Lord grew and learned, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man” (Luke 2:52). Allow me to ask you the question, whether you are striving to increase in the knowledge of and favor with God like Paul (2 Peter 3:18). For the believers he pleaded day and night “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him” (Ephesians 1:17), and “that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (Colossians 1:10).

MES17 0111 2Where Jesus Christ is the center, we strive for deeper knowledge of Him, for that is what the Holy Spirit does in us. We know Him through His Word, in which He reveals Himself. Someone wrote in the year 2006 in idea Spektrum, a Christian magazine, “Do we believe everything in the newspaper? No! Do we believe everything in the Bible? Yes! Why do we read so many newspapers then?”

In John 1:26, we meet Jesus Christ as the unknown one, “John answered them, saying, I baptize with water: but there standeth one among you, whom ye know not.” John the Baptist meant in the sense of “…whom you do not know,” or “with whom you are not familiar.”

At the beginning of March last year, the women’s magazine Lisa took a representative survey among 20-29 year olds. Fifteen percent of those questioned thought Easter was the holiday for the birth of Jesus. Nine percent knew nothing of the Christian background of the holiday, and three percent “even believed that Jesus’ wedding was the reason for Easter.”

The greatest problem with most people is that they only know Jesus in theory, if at all, through the church, through their homes, through Sunday School, through confirmation, but they do not know Him personally; they are not familiar with Him. He is there and close to their hearts, but they do not know Him.

You can come to know the Lord personally when you are touched by Him, turn to Him, and give Him your life. Recently, a Swiss man called me from Brazil. He came from Basel and has been living in Brazil for 12 years. He was a nominal Christian and had come to know a Brazilian woman, with whom he went to Brazil. Somehow he received our book, Why It Pays to Be a Christian. He packed it and took it with him to Brazil. Later, he went through many crises…at some point he remembered the book, dug it out and began to read it, put it down, then read it again and again. There came the point where he said to himself, “Now I must do what it says in that book,” and he called upon the name of the Lord Jesus. It has been a few years now that he has been engaged in Christian work. The unknown One became familiar to him.

In Luke 4:30, we meet the Lord Jesus as the untouchable one. “But he passing through the midst of them went his way.” Before this Jesus Christ was in the synagogue at Nazareth. There He had read to them from the book of Isaiah, and emphasized that this Scripture was fulfilled through Him. But He was met with unbelief and rejection, “And they said, Is not this Joseph’s son?” (verse 22). He spoke of how God provided for the Gentiles, including the widow of Zarephath at the time of Elijah, and the Syrian captain Naaman at the time of Elisha, while Israel went hungry. At this they “were filled with wrath, and rose up, and thrust him out of the city, and led him unto the brow of the hill whereupon their city was built, that they might cast him down headlong.”

The Lord Jesus was not subject to the will of man, but the leadership of His Father in heaven, “Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father” (John 10:17-18). But when His hour came, however, He did it willingly, “Father…not my will, but thine, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Is the Church abandoned to her fate? The fate of man? Or does God have a special plan with each of His children? Jesus Himself has everything in His hand. He is the center, and therefore we should leave the center to Him. The Lord protects, preserves, heals and provides. But where it fits His plan and serves His glory, He allows misfortune, sickness and various trials, but never without a reason. Good fortune and misfortune fulfill His plan. It is a message for others, a drama for the angels, an answer for the devil and his demons, and it serves to the honor and glorification of His name and for our good, to the crown and triumph for the day of Jesus Christ, when He returns and takes us to be with Him.

In Mark 5:30, we meet the Lord Jesus as the powerful one: “And Jesus, immediately knowing in himself that virtue had gone out of him, turned him about in the press, and said, Who touched my clothes?”

The Lord was in the midst of a crowd on the way to the synagogue of Jairus, whose daughter lay dying and who had asked Jesus to heal her. In this crowd of people there was a woman who was sick, and she had crept up behind Him to touch Him because she thought, “If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole” (Mark 5:28).

The Lord Jesus noticed that power had gone out from him, stood still and asked, “Who touched me?” The disciples answered, “Thou seest the multitude thronging thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me?” (Mark 5:31). Then the woman came forward and told Him the truth. Jesus answered, “Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague” (Mark 5:34).

MES17 0111 3A famous star once said, “You can be among thousands of people and yet be on your own.” Anne Frank wrote in her diary, “A person can be lonely, even though they are loved by many, if they are not the most loved.” There may be thousands around you but show you no sympathy; for the Lord Jesus you are one among thousands, and for Him you are the most loved. He wants to show the effective power of His love in you. Where Jesus Christ is the center, is power.

In Mark 7:31, we meet the Lord Jesus as the ambassador and the sender, “And again, departing from the coasts of Tyre and Sidon, he came unto the sea of Galilee, through the midst of the coasts of Decapolis.”

The “ten cities” (in Greek: Decapolis) was a group of mainly Gentile populated places on the Eastern Front of the Roman Empire, east of the Sea of Galilee. He gave His eleven disciples this commission before His ascension into heaven. This area was called the “Galilee of the Gentiles” (Matthew 4:14-15). Jesus Christ proclaimed the Gospel there (Matthew 4:25). Today, the Lord Jesus is bringing the Gospel to the nations through us. The Lord commissioned His eleven disciples with this task shortly before His ascension into heaven, “Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, where Jesus had appointed them…Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen” (Matthew 28:16, 19-20).

Midnigth Call - 01/2017

 

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