By Erin Bird
I’ve confessed this before, but I don’t prefer things that are “the same.” I personally like new experiences, new foods, new music… new everything. I tire of eating the same foods repeatedly. I rarely watch a move a second time. I regularly change up my swim workout. It seems about the only thing I like to be the same is change.
However, I’ve recently been learning to appreciate “sameness” and find pleasure in repeated experiences. For instance, I’ve been re-reading a series of fiction books because I’ve been realizing just how much I missed the first time through. By looking at the material again, I am coming to appreciate the book series more than ever.
The same should happen as we look at Jesus. He should never bore us. Rather, the more we look at Him, the more we should appreciate Him and the Gospel.
For the month of June, I want to do a short series I am calling The Same. Hebrews 13:8 tells us “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” So I thought it would be good for us to take a few weeks to look at the consistency of Christ throughout time, in hopes that it might help us as a church family to appreciate the “sameness” of Jesus all the more.
But in order for us to truly appreciate Christ’s consistency, we need to look first at who Jesus is.
When Peter and James were arrested by temple guards in Acts 3 for healing a man, they had to stand before the Sanhedrin (the Jewish high court – like our Supreme Court). As they were being questioned about the miracle, Peter said this:
“If we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:9-12)
I love how Peter went about his defense. He first pointed to Jesus (“…by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth…”), clarified which Jesus he was talking about (“…whom you crucified, whom God raised…”), then to bring the emphasis home said, “This Jesus…” And with those words, Peter indicated just how unique and powerful Christ was and is.
Now, Peter was aware the priests on the Sanhedrin bench knew about Jesus. But they didn’t truly KNOW Jesus. So Peter made it clear who “This Jesus” was. He wanted them to realize just how special and divine Jesus was, so that they might do as Peter and the other disciples had chosen to do – be disciples of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, the one who was crucified, yet raised back to life.
Uniquely the Same
The uniqueness of Jesus is a crucial part of the Gospel. This is why the Apostle Paul gave this description of Jesus in his letter to the Colossians.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20)
The church in Colossae was the only church to whom Paul wrote a letter that he did not plant himself. It’s clear when you read verses 3 – 14 of chapter 1, he’s superexcited this church exists. However, because he didn’t plan this church himself, he wants to make sure they understand the gospel. And the central character in the gospel is Christ. He didn’t want them to fall for the human idea that Jesus was some grand teacher, or “elevated” human, or even just a god among many gods. That’s why he makes it ultra clear that Jesus is the one and only God. He is God the Son, second member of the Trinity, Creator of all things who has authority over all things (that is what is meant by “firstborn of all creation”) and is the reconciler of all things.
In other words – there is no one like Jesus! He is the only being in the entire universe who is fully God and fully human. He is the only human to have ever lived a sinless life. He is the first and last, the beginning and end, the Risen One. He isn’t some fickle God. He isn’t inconsistent or unreliable. He doesn’t act based upon His current mood. He is the same Jesus yesterday, today, and forever.
And so because of the unique awesomeness of this Jesus, over the next three weeks we will look at the consistent sameness of Jesus, which I hope will be incredibly comforting and encouraging in an ever-changing world.