What Jesus Means to Me



"Jesus Rocks," proclaims the cover of a recent Newsweek magazine, promoting a report on the impact of contemporary Christian music.

It goes on to cite a spike in record sales and swelling concert attendance among young people, attracted by the Gospel message of Christ and His church and the popular rock musicians with whom they identify.
However, Jesus has "rocked" the lives of myself, my family and millions of others in ways unconnected with contemporary music trends and CD sales.

He is a charismatic and fascinating figure, historically and more important, spiritually. That's partly due to a personality vastly different from his fellow man, though He did walk the paths of Palestine in human form. His redemptive mission was to suffer and die in the greatest cause ever known before God raised him from the tomb lent by an admirer in Jerusalem.

No other person, before or after his 33 years of human life, could boast of such supernatural power, wisdom, goodness, righteousness and love. Furthermore, he enriched his mission with leadership, teaching and evangelism to lay the groundwork for spreading the message of salvation to billions of sinners down through the centuries by means of the Christian church.

Although Jesus has remained the end-all of my Christian goal, I probably have an even greater appreciation for what He represents as a result of being born-again through the power of the Holy Spirit. This has created new depths and spiritual directions, a greater drive to read, analyze and discuss His teaching and conversations--His Word--and to try to live in conformance with its laws.

This fascination has been intensified since my wife, Nancy, and I have been enabled and privileged through our children's love and generosity in an anniversary gift to visit Israel and experience the sites where Jesus and His followers resided and ministered.

To know the Holy Spirit is to know Jesus in a more intimate way. And yet, as humans, we get impatient for a closer intimacy, the so-called personal relationship we hear so much about. Can it ever be personal enough this side of eternity?

Christianity, unsurprisingly, has had a significant effect on me since I was a boy in grade school and down through the years in the customary Catholic trappings and liturgies: masses and communions, 40-hour devotions, benedictions and sacraments, including a whole flock of these within my own family. Through it all, and since my family has become inclined toward Protestantism, I was seeking Jesus. And I feel He was calling, sometimes quietly, always insistent, persistent through a continuing inner compulsion.

How does He speak to me? Not through an audible voice as He did to Paul on the road to Damascus or to associates like John who could write in 1 John l:1:

"Something which has existed since the beginning,
"That we have heard,
"And we have seen with our own eyes,
"That we have watched,
"And touched with our own hands;
"The Word, who is life."

What we wouldn't give to be in St. John's sandals, then and now!

More often than not it seems we tend to ignore His direction through our tendency to continually make demands in a one-sided prayer dialogue. Perhaps that's one reason Jesus occasionally would sum up a message with the exhortation, "Let him who has ears, hear."

A major method of absorbing Christ's direction is through the Bible, as He tells us in John 14:23:

"If anyone loves me, he will keep my word,
"And my father will love him,
"And we shall come to him
"And make our home in him."

Part of the reborn phenomenon, a gift of God's grace, is an infusion of zeal to delve deeply into the Word, the Bible. Beginning with Genesis and the time of creation, its rich pages reveal the sovereignty, power and actions of the Godhead of Father, Holy Spirit and Jesus, the "Word made Flesh": God becoming human. The Word feeds the reborn Christian supernaturally in response to a virtually insatiable desire to ingest it, according to 1 Peter 1:23:

"Your new birth was not from any mortal seed
"But from the everlasting Word
"Of the living and eternal God."

We study the Word daily to feed us spiritually, just as we partake of food to keep our bodies functioning. It provides spiritual energy just as food fuels our physical body. The difference, however, is infinite between our human bodies and the Good News of God, as explained in Isaiah 40: 6-8:

"All flesh is grass
"And its glory like the wild flower's.
"The grass withers, the flower fades.
"But the word of the Lord remains forever."

It is rewarding to read some part of the New Testament, daily if possible, to determine what lessons Jesus is trying to teach us. Some devotionals are obviously useful in keeping a balance between the Old and New Testaments.

I have faith that Jesus can also speak to us via others and incidents and the Spirit helps the message strike home.

Jesus, to me, is power. He heals. He protects, listens and acts for His faithful. His power field is always radiating within our environment, seeking the conductor of our, "Yes, Lord; come Lord Jesus." And Jesus promised us power, too, as outlined in Acts 1:8:

"You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you."
Jesus echoed this promise in John 14: 12-13:
"Whoever believes in me
"Will perform the same works
"As I do myself,
"He will perform even greater works,
"Because I am going to the Father."

Admittedly it is a test of faith to consider that sinful believers could achieve the level of miracles that Christ performed, stunning his followers, other Jews and even Gentiles. But scripture shows his apostles accomplished exactly that, but were quick to point out it was God's power, flowing through them.

A charged-up electrical circuit in a household won't fire up a bulb unless those seeking light plug into a socket. If we are going to appropriate the power that Jesus promised, we have to complete the circuit of His grace, for His are batteries that never weaken.

It's up to us to flip the switch by asking, seeking and knocking, as he suggests in scripture so He can empower the grid and light up our lives.

It is true, too that Jesus is not only our God but our Big Brother, who we can run to all the time. Requests run the gamut: "Jesus, the household budget is a little tight, how about a bit of help. . .Jesus, this cut on my hand is painful, how about a healing. . .That office colleague of mine is hurting right now, please give him an assist and some of Your peace. . .I need your help for some rough spots in my marriage relationship, etc."

The list is long: economic problems, trip protection, assistance with serious work difficulties, our futures, how to channel our time and money, how to respond to someone who needs prayer for a complicated need. And we needn't have hang-ups over selfish motives for requesting Big Brother help, either, because He did say, "Ask!"
Praying and supporting others is important because that's what Christianity is about; like Jesus giving of Himself we reach out to those around us in return. Someone once referred to such examples of endless love as emptying out a milk pail so more will fill it. As the Redeemer said, "What you have done for the least of my brothers, you have done for me."

It's impossible to imagine a leader more supreme, holy and "Other" than the Messiah. Without exception, each of our greatest secular leaders, whether political, military, academic, scientific; is limited by failures and weaknesses. Many are brilliant and truly gifted but they, like us, have foibles and sin natures involving tendencies toward anger, impatience, selfishness, greed, egotism, lust, burning ambition and countless other deficiencies.

In short, Jesus is a model we can follow right into heaven. Plus, in His Word and through the wisdom and guidance of the Holy Spirit, He speaks to every situation we can encounter. As Catholic writer John Powell, S.J. remarked, "Jesus is the answer to all the questions that life will ask."

At times, Jesus favors believers by touching them in a loving, glorious way that infuses with hope and faith and emotion and draws us ever closer to Him through what is described as a "mountaintop experience" that is unforgettable. There seems to be no special formula for acquiring this encounter, since He casts the deciding vote in rewarding the faithful.

Unfortunately desert experiences ordinarily follow in our human trek through life, but when the God-Man puts a rainbow like that into our existence, we will find no human encounter to compare.

Whether or not we are favored with that special gift, Jesus is the self-described "Narrow Way" to the Father and "The Way, the Truth and the Life," as those who accept Him learn. Trusting in Him and living according to "The Way" outlined in scripture provides the daily spiritual prescription that keeps our souls, and often our bodies, properly nourished.

Faith in Him is definitely the path to a better, much more satisfying life that brings joy, contentment and loving friendships our way in this life, and face-to-face fellowship eternity with Him when we sojourners on this planet cross over into eternity.