It can often feel like God is hard to relate to or understand. We tend to have a wealth of misconceptions of what God is like. But when we study Jesus, we get a picture of a God who really cares, really understands our lives, and can sympathize with us. This month’s blog is guest-authored by Cody Smith.
Up until about two years ago I had spent my entire life knowing about Jesus and believing in Him, but that’s the extent of it. Some say that’s all you have to do, yet I personally never felt complete in that. I only prayed when things went wrong. I only went to church when things were going right. My home life as a kid made relational consistency impossible with my parents, let alone God. I always believed in Him, but it was never really modeled to me what it looked like to follow Him day in and day out. My belief didn’t carry into the decisions I made.
I now find myself in a relationship with Jesus where He isn’t just part of my story like before. My life belongs to His story. My purpose and meaning are His.
“I was made a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power.” – Ephesians 3:7 CSB
But if I can be brutally honest, I’m coming out of a season of feeling disconnected. Not abandoned, just disconnected. I’ll liken it to when you play phone tag with someone for a few days before you finally catch one another at the right time. That was my relationship with God for a short bit. During this season I wrestled with an unbelief that I had in relation to a very good friend of mine who had lost someone very close to them. I was doing mental gymnastics around thoughts of “Why would my friend want to know Jesus now after going through this? Why would God let this happen right now? Why couldn’t the foundation of their life be set on Jesus before experiencing this?” I just couldn’t find it in myself to believe that my friend would want anything to do with Jesus after this. My heart was broken because I considered their salvation somewhat of a lost cause. And that really hurts to admit to the family, friends, or random stranger reading this, but like I said, I needed to be brutally honest.
After quite a few rounds of this back-and-forth boxing match between my brain and my heart, I began to ask myself what I knew of Jesus. Of course, I knew WHAT Jesus had done for me. I know he was loving and caring to those around him. But what did I know beyond this 2-D version of Jesus? I had never really considered what he was like as a real person.
I picked up “Beautiful Outlaw” by John Eldredge at McKays for $4.25, and through it I’ve been diving into more of what Jesus’s personality could have been like. I’ve been searching for the humanity that we can often lose by thinking things like “Yeah, he was human, but he was also God. I can’t relate to that.”
But Jesus was the most humanly human to ever live.
– Jesus calls himself “The Son of Man” 81 times in the Gospels.
Let that humility wash over you. The Savior of man chose to refer to himself as the Son of Man. He loves telling us that He was of flesh and blood the same as we are.
– Jesus felt joy.
Jesus was the most joyful person to ever walk the earth. Imagine having called your shot and saving the world just as you had said you would. You’d be pretty happy too. He tells us he wants us to be as full of joy as He is.
“I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” – John 15:11
– He was treated like an outcast.
He knew the feeling of what it is to be human and not treated as such. The people in his hometown tried to throw him off a cliff the first time he taught there, after all.
“He was despised and forsaken of men, A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; And like one from whom men hide their face He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” – Isaiah 53:3 NASB
– He suffered great anxiety while in the garden.
There are days where my personal anxiety keeps me on a leash within my house. I only open the door to let the dog out. So to remember that Jesus literally had the weight of the world on his shoulders in this moment turns my apathy into empathy. He was thinking of you and I in the garden and about how we were worth what He knew He was about to do. That gives me chills.
“Being in anguish, he prayed more fervently, and his sweat became like drops of blood falling to the ground.” – Luke 22:44 CSB
– He experienced anger in the temple upon seeing it turned into a marketplace.
Jesus felt an anger I find relatable in response to things ranging from racism to the prosperity “gospel.” Think of the fire that ignites in your heart when you see selfishness, greed, and hatred manifest itself in another person’s words or actions. Jesus was on fire to restore holy love to the one place it should always be found.
“He went into the temple and began to throw out those who were selling, and he said, ‘It is written, my house will be a house of prayer, but you have made it a den of thieves!’ ” – Luke 19:45-46 CSB
– He was amazed by the centurion’s faith.
This man had faith that Jesus could heal his servant without even needing to go see him. AMAZED. Jesus is capable of being amazed.
“Hearing this, Jesus was amazed and said to those following him,’ Truly I tell you, I have not found anyone in Israel with so great a faith.’ ” – Matthew 8:10 CSB
– Jesus knew sorrow.
Jesus knew our sorrows. They were his to bear. The weight of our sins killed this truly perfect man. There will never be so much sorrow within a person as Jesus had in him hanging on that cross. Nails driven into his hands and feet, he hung there for 6 hours. A crown of thorns adorned the head of the man who had never sinned. He was stripped, mocked, and tortured and in his final moments he felt the sorrow of our sins surround him in death.
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree; so that, having died to sins, we might live for righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.” – 1 Peter 2:24 CSB
I personally find myself at a daily crossroads of having to choose to be joyful or allowing myself to be sorrowful. I tend to let one defeat the other and it can make getting into a daily routine very difficult. Focusing more on WHO Jesus is as opposed to just what he came here to do has really started to make me realize that it’s okay to experience both joy and sorrow. Jesus experienced both, but He knew that sorrow was temporary and that joy would be eternal. The sorrow he endured was worth the joy He could offer you and I in eternity.
Realizing that Jesus was a lot like me makes me want to be even more like Him. And because of that I’ll never look at someone as a lost cause again, for I have been shown that I was not one. In the same way he washed Judas’s feet knowing he would be betrayed by him, he died for ANYONE to have the chance to live for Him.
I’ve been in love with Jesus, the Messiah. I’m currently falling in love with Jesus, the man.
Cody Smith is the Student Minister at Rock Bridge Community Church in Hixson, TN. He enjoys hanging out with students, making cool food, reading, and relaxing with his wife Deanna and their dog Chuy.