Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Have You Found Jesus??

For many years I have taught Sunday School classes.  For the past 6 years I have taught Jr. High Sunday school and this year I have added High School... and one of the questions that I have trained my students to answer is, "Have you found Jesus?"

How we read Scripture is very important.  If we read the Bible with ourselves as the main character, the main object, the purpose of the passage... we will get a very skewed idea of all that is written.  Whether it is a parable or a genealogical account... we should see Jesus as the focus of all Scripture.  The revelation of Christ and the salvation He brings to us is the message of Scripture.  From Genesis to Revelation, Christ is there.  Old Testament through the New Testament Christ is present.

Jesus didn't first show up on the scene in the manger at Bethlehem.  John tells us, in the BEGINNING was the Word and the Word was God.  When God speaks... there is Jesus.  When God promises... there is Jesus.  When God delivers... there is Jesus.  Creation, burning bushes, wrestling matches, fiery furnaces, ... there is Jesus.

This past week in class we read Paul's letter to Philemon, a fellow Christian.  In this letter we learn that Paul is returning Philemon's runaway servant, Onesimus, with the message that Onesimus has repented and is now also a follower of Christ's teachings.  Paul reveals to Philemon that he, Paul, is sending money to cover the debt that Onesimus owes to Philemon and reminds Philemon of the debt he owed to Paul.

 "I FOUND JESUS!!" was the cry from one of my students.  "I found him... Paul is reminding Philemon that Christ forgave him."

 Lightbulbs came on all around the room.  This is about Jesus.  It is a message that says Jesus gives forgiveness to all.  He doesn't wag his finger at us and tell us how we should have known better... he doesn't give us a list of chores to do in order pay back what we stole.  It isn't a message about how much Philemon needed to forgive Onesimus (though this is Paul's hope). Paul is simply stating that regardless of what Philemon did in recourse to Onesimus's sin, or what Philemon's legal "rights" were as a slave master... Onesimus was free in Christ, forgiven.  In Christ all charges have been dropped. Christ opens his arms, receives us... and no longer as a slave, but as a brother.  This is the message Paul was sending to Philemon, a reminder of his own forgiveness in Christ and an opportunity to reflect that forgiveness to Onesimus.  The message was Jesus.

Have you found Jesus?

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