I used to choke on that word, “J-e-s-u-s.” I wrestled all night with Jesus – years actually. Then He touched my hip and I realized He had granted me the ability to struggle in the first place. I felt foolish. His touch broke me and I became His – I acquired a very dignified limp. As such, I still had a hard time getting His name to pass my lips. Though I knew I was His and that I could no longer struggle, I brought a lot of baggage with me. If you want to know the truth, I was still full of misconceptions and completely confused. And, in my mind, it was just as important not to sound like a fool in front of my friends.
Again, I wrestled all night with Jesus – years actually. I would hold on to my intellectual prowess by invoking the name “Lord God.” And, because I was enlightened, I would talk about the “the Messiah” and “the Christ” because “Jesus” (as a name) was oh so provincial…reserved for the plebeian masses. I wrestled. I knew the Bible and I could nakedly invoke the Bible with accuracy and intensity. I thought I had won.
Then He touched my hip again, and there was no dignity left in my limp. He showed me that I was tiny and He was great. I had won nothing. I wasn’t capable of winning anything. It was then that I could see even more clearly the distance between usefulness and myself. The majesty of the One who created me became real and I knew beyond knowing that He also saved me. The One, He, that is THE great King Jesus. His is the name that stands above every name.
I love Jesus.
I’ve read whole books written by respected Biblical scholars or experienced pastors where the pages were a-sprawl with “the Messiah” and “the Christ.” I know what they were up to. I was like them so I recognize exactly what was occurring. I told myself that I sounded more intellectual by invoking higher names, titles, for Jesus or that it was important to avoid redundancy or any other excuse.
I can hear the cadence of written material sing and then when the sentence should crescendo with majesty and a word that should bring me to my knees: Jesus! I find the author going spineless and trying to prop up the merit of his material on his own intellect by intoning “the Messiah!” or “the Christ!”
I know without a shadow of doubt that Jesus is THE Messiah and THE Christ. But (and that is a very big butt), I also know that my ego craves its own position – I know that all of our egos crave position! I know that when we rise before a world that disregards Him and we try to hide behind our intellect and our dignity by avoiding the name that others despise, the name Jesus, and instead we invoke one of His titles we neuter our proclamation.
Where do we stand…or are we kneeling? Are we standing tall with our messiah holding us up? Or are we kneeling at the feet of Jesus? Is our heart laid bare for all to see our submission to Jesus – the one in whom we place our full faith and confidence? Or is our heart hidden and our ego held high by the cross of the messiah?
I’ve listened to many wonderful men in the service of Jesus deliver messages and only once invoke His name. The delivery of those precious two syllables coming only at the very end: “In the name of Jesus, Amen.” At the risk of offending many of my friends in and out of the pulpit, do you not know that those who place Jesus first in their lives thirst to hear His name? We are poised, waiting, parched, yearning to hear about Him and His sovereignty, His grace, His majesty, His beauty and His gift of salvation to us. History lessons are great. Funny stories break the tension and bind us together in our desperation to hear about Him. Biblical proofs and long expositions that carry us from Genesis to Revelation build anticipation and puff up our egos as we nod our approval and understanding. The thirst builds until…until…until we hear His name, Jesus.
I believe I can safely argue that billions have known God. I believe I can safely argue that billions have wound their ego and dignity around their perception of knowing God. I believe I can safely argue that billions of people have placed their faith in the certainty of their own knowledge and perception of God. That is nothing more than faith in yourself, faith in your own understanding, faith in your own ego.
Faith in Jesus is faith in knowing that the One who made you is the One who saved you. Faith in Jesus is carrying the certainty that we are without ability to lift ourselves from the mire of our own weird and broken lives. Faith in Jesus is knowing that the gift of freedom, granted by our faith, is equally for every person we have ever looked upon and every person we will ever look upon.
I still struggle with Jesus. Night and day I struggle to make my own significants. Gently, ever so gently, again He touches me and my ego is shattered. I am nothing while He is everything. There is no dignity in my limp anymore, but the infinite dignity of Jesus covers me because I am His.
In Jesus, there is no condemnation. In Jesus, perfect love lives. In Jesus the certainty of forgiveness and salvation reigns eternally.
May Jesus bring us peace. May we find Him waiting for us. Amen.