Editor's Note: Pastor Roger Barrier's "Ask Roger" column regularly appears at Preach It, Teach It. Every week at Crosswalk, Dr. Barrier puts nearly 40 years of experience in the pastorate to work answering questions of doctrine or practice for laypeople, or giving advice on church leadership issues. Email him your questions at email@example.com.
We sang "Jesus Loves Me" at the close of our worship time this Sunday. It reminded me of Karl Barth's comment when asked what was the deepest, most profound truth he'd discovered in all his years of following and learning about Jesus.
This world renowned Swiss theologian replied, "Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”
Driving home from church I asked my children what was their favorite verse in all the Bible? All three quoted John 3:16: "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him would not perish but have everlasting life."
Later that afternoon I began thinking about which Bible passage gives the most beautiful picture of Jesus in all the Bible. Of course, I thought of many. I'd like to know what you think is the most beautiful picture of Jesus in all the Bible?"
I don't have to think twice about my favorite. I love Jesus as He is pictured in Hebrews 12:1-3:
"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart."
In my mind, no more beautiful picture of Jesus can be found anywhere in the Bible.
The Christian life is an endurance race: The “Door of Salvation” is the starting line and “Christlikeness” is the finish line.
“The sin that so easily entangles” is the translation for the Greek word, "weight.” The sin that weighs us down is Unbelief!
In the Christian life, any extra-weight-encumbered person who puts on the overcoat of unbelief will eventually collapse in the middle of the track.
The way we win the race is to keep looking intently at Jesus.
Jesus is the one who planned (author) and completed (perfecter) our salvation. The word "perfecter" is the Greek word ("teleios"). This word means that Jesus carried out exactly what He needed to do in saving us. He did it perfectly.
He approached the cross with joy at the thought of saving us. To get through to the joy He had to endure much shame.
The most shameful moment of my life was when Mrs. Horne the seventh grade history teacher stood behind me and asked the kids why Roger had so much acne. Heat rose up from my hot, rosy red cheeks. I heard one girl say, "It is probably because he doesn't wash his face enough." Several others offered their opinions. The most shameful moment of my life occurred in the far left row, third seat from the front in that seventh grade classroom.
Fifty-two years have passed since that Friday, and the shame, moment and Mrs. Horne are still as real to me as if they happened yesterday.
Of course, after all these years I have finally forgiven Mrs. Horne.
My shame is nothing compared to what Jesus faced. Let’s consider for a moment the shame Jesus endured.
The Shameful Rejection:
Luke 4:28-30: "He came to his own to his hometown; but they received Him not. In fact, they tried to kill Him."
The Shameful Accusation:
They charged Him claiming to be God—He was God!
Charge some of us with blaspheming God and some of us have done it. But to charge one who loved like Jesus Christ loved, obeyed as He obeyed, to charge Him with blasphemy must have caused him peculiar shame and suffering.
They Mocked His Kingship:
Pilate asked, “Are you a king?” Here stands the King of all creation, and He humbled Himself: “As a lamb before his shearers is dumb, so He opened not his mouth.” He was scourged.
They Mocked His Deity:
He was dragged before King Herod “Do us some tricks to prove that you are God,” mocked Herod, “and we’ll let you go free.”
They stripped Him and blindfolded Him. Began to poke the Son of God with sticks. “Prophesy, who struck you?”
So what do they do to the King? The soldiers brought Him robes and bowed down to worship the King of Kings? No. Not at all. They crammed a crown of thorns on Him and spit on Him.
They Mocked His Prayers:
Never do we read in the annals of execution that anyone mocks the prayers of a dying man. “Give me a minute or two to pray.”
“Well, of course.”
Look at Jesus. Every prayer is an object of jest. “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabacthani… My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me?” They make a pun. “He calls for Elijah! Let’s see if Elijah will come and rescue Him!” (Mark 15:33-37).
He Suffered the Shame of the Cross:
Men have devised many horrible ways to kill over the years… guillotines, gas chambers, electric chairs, mustard gas, nuclear weapons, hanging, the rack; but, I suppose nothing is more shameful than the cross. Stripped naked, hanging in excruciating pain. The cross was reserved for the most criminal of criminals.
Medically and Spiritually Jesus Died of a Broken Heart:
Don’t you know that His tender heart bled as he was put to death by the very ones he had come to save!
This was His world. These were His men; His nails; His cross—and they did not recognize him (John 1:10-11).
His head fell on His chest. They said, “He’ll never lift that head among the multitudes again!”
"They said, "Look at those nails… hands. Those were the hands which healed, that raised the dead, touched lips, made mud and opened blind eyes, lifted against the winds to calm the storm. He will never use those hands again!"
His Death was Significant Like None Other:
His death (and subsequent resurrection) was a divine transaction to forgive the sins of the entire world (John 1:12).
He Found the Promised Joy:
Why endure all the shame? Why? Because He could see the joy on the other side of the cross. Joy of saving us. He made it perfectly.
Philippians 2 reminds us that one day, at the name of Jesus, every knee shall bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” I imagine that He is really going to enjoy that moment.
On Christmas Eve, 1968 the Apollo Eight astronauts read the Genesis chapter one creation story as they orbited the moon. When the cameras were turned off in space and the program was over, Paul Harvey came on one of the Dallas TV channels and told about a New England preacher who bought a cage which held two old cow birds:
The preacher saw a young boy with caged birds and asked, "What do you have there?"
The boy replied, "I have two cowbirds in this bird cage."
"What are you going to do with them?" asked the preacher.
"Well, I haven't thought about it much. I suppose that I will play with them, poke sticks at them, maybe shake them around in the cage," said the boy.
"You know that you will get tired of playing with them, then what will you do with them?"
"Oh, I have an old cat, she loves cow birds. I'll feed them to her."
"How much for the two birds and the cage?" asked the pastor.
"Oh, mister, you don't want these cow birds. They aren't worth anything. All they do is eat some old insects and bugs off of the backs of cows."
"How much?" asked the preacher.
"Let me have the cage."
The pastor took the cage into a back alley, opened the cage door and coaxed the birds to freedom.
One day Jesus met Satan carrying a bird cage.
"What do you have in the cage?" asked Jesus.
"Just some worthless human beings," said Satan.
"What are you going to do with them," asked Jesus.
Satan replied, "I thought that I would play with them for a while. You know, murder, divorce, slavery, war."
"You will one day get tired of playing with them. What will you do with them then?"
"They are worthless creatures. I know. I'll damn them all to Hell."
Jesus asked, "How much?"
"You don’t want them. They'll spit on you, mock you, reject you. You don't want them.
"How much for the humans in the cage?"
"Nothing less than your blood on the cross."
Jesus said, "Let me have the cage."
Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.
Thanks, Dawn, for the great question. I hope that I have expanded your pictures of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Dr. Roger Barrier retired as senior teaching pastor from Casas Church in Tucson, Arizona. In addition to being an author and sought-after conference speaker, Roger has mentored or taught thousands of pastors, missionaries, and Christian leaders worldwide. Casas Church, where Roger served throughout his thirty-five-year career, is a megachurch known for a well-integrated, multi-generational ministry. The value of including new generations is deeply ingrained throughout Casas to help the church move strongly right through the twenty-first century and beyond. Dr. Barrier holds degrees from Baylor University, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Golden Gate Seminary in Greek, religion, theology, and pastoral care. His popular book, Listening to the Voice of God, published by Bethany House, is in its second printing and is available in Thai and Portuguese. His latest work is, Got Guts? Get Godly! Pray the Prayer God Guarantees to Answer, from Xulon Press. Roger can be found blogging at Preach It, Teach It, the pastoral teaching site founded with his wife, Dr. Julie Barrier.