Knowing Jesus in Love

Ephesians 3:14-21

God by definition is infinite. Therefore, Our finite human minds cannot fully grasp or understand God, His thoughts or His way. It’s impossible for us to know Him. Or is it?

C. S. Lewis once talked about an author who writes a book. He loves the characters he has created so much, he wants them to know him personally. It’s impossible, right? The author lives in a different dimension. It is impossible unless the author writes himself into the book’s narrative. He must write himself into the lives of those characters he cherishes, so they encounter him in the real story of their existence.

God desires to know us. He has created us, but He wants to share life with us. He wants us to know His love. He wants us to know Him personally through Jesus Christ, and He wants us to share life with God by faith. That is what the whole of the Christmas story is about. Remember John 1:14 – “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. We beheld his glory, glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”

So, as you think about the God who created the world, the God who hung the stars in place, who sustains the orbit of the planets around the sun by His power, who holds the universe, He is also the God who wants to share love and life with you. That is why, when Paul writes to the Ephesians, he prays God’s power would be at work within us so Jesus Christ could dwell within our finite hearts and we would know God’s love in a way that is more than just knowledge. God can come to us, and we can experience His love. We can share a relationship of trust with Him.

In the ninth chapter of John is an interesting story about a blind man encountered by Jesus. The blind man wanted to see, so Jesus smears mud on his eyes and tells him to go wash. The man is healed and gets his sight back. Then there’s this humorous interaction as the people see the man walking around with normal vision and say almost as if the guy couldn’t hear them, This looks just like the man who used to sit in the dirt and beg. No! It couldn’t be him! All the while the man is saying, Yes! It was I. I’m the man!

The Pharisees also hear the story of this blind man now healed and say, Have nothing to do with Jesus, because He is not from God. The blind man simply says to them, “Whether he is a sinner or not, I do not know. All I can tell you is, I was blind but now I see!” (John 9:25).

Jesus later comes back to this blind man and says, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

The blind man answers, “Who is he that I might believe in him?”

Jesus says, “I who speak to you am he.”

Having experienced the miraculous restorative power of Jesus and able to see, the blind man says, “I do believe.”

Then, John’s story says, “The man worshiped Jesus.”

The reason I share this story in connection with the privilege of people knowing God through Jesus Christ is people will often encounter God or come to God at the point of our human need. We come to God when we experience pain or brokenness or some form of our limits as human beings. When we experience the power of God into our lives, there is a process of deeper and deeper revelation in knowing and understanding Jesus Christ. The more we know Him, the deeper our faith in Him becomes – from serving our need in a circumstance of deliverance to confessing Jesus as our Savior, as the Son of God, as the Lord of creation, which then leads to gratitude and worship.

As people live their lives, they have different ways of viewing Jesus – who He is or what it means to have a connection to God. For some it’s like a one-time trip. My wife Denise and I once took a trip to Niagara Falls in upstate New York. It was awesome! It was majestic. The raw power of those natural falls took our breath away. It was a wonderful experience. However, that singular trip to a momentous experience decades ago has little or no relevance to my daily life today.

Some people think about God in this way. It’s like a momentary experience, a trip long ago, yet not relevant to life.

Some people think of Jesus like a childhood acquaintance. We knew Him once. We, in fact, shared a lot of life experiences. He was a significant part of our life. But when we became an adult, we moved on. We’re no longer connected. We’re no longer in touch. We don’t have life with Him today.

Some people approach Jesus like reading the biography of a famous person. We might be tremendously impressed. We might learn a lot of detailed knowledge about this individual’s life – how they lived, what they accomplished, who they knew, what they do. But reading a biography is not like a personal relationship. We could know intellectual truth about the person. We might know conceptually about the person but have no relationship, no communication, no love shared, no trust.

Some people approach Jesus like they would a doctor. They hope they don’t have to visit one. When they have to go and ask for help, they think it costs too much. They resent the advice about how to live life, even though in the doctor’s wisdom he knows good health, and they hope they don’t have to go again.

It’s a preposterous understanding, but it is how some people think of Jesus.

Some people think of Jesus like a nice, friendly uncle who I see a couple times a year at a family gathering. It’s not bad, and while I’m there I’m not fretting. I have pleasant interaction. But when I leave that family reunion, I don’t share life with my crazy uncle on a daily basis. He has no relevance to my life goals or my daily needs.

The best way for us to think about Jesus in a relationship of love is, He is our best friend. He is not only supernaturally powerful, but also a friend who supports and encourages us in our journey of life. He knows our needs. He loves us, and we invite Jesus to share our life, live within us, to help us with our priorities of life. We ask Him to forgive us when we fail, pick us up when we fall, grant us wisdom and counsel for the journey, and be the one who helps us see our full potential as created human beings. He is all the while the companion who never leaves us or forsakes us. Jesus is the Son of God, and my Savior and Lord. He is, by faith, our best friend.

Why would we love Jesus? Why is He our best friend? First, Jesus uses His power to serve us in our brokenness. He leaves His position of infinite power and glory to come down to where I am and share my life.

By the way, Christianity of all the religions of the world, is distinctive in that way. All the other religions speak of living by an ethic to elevate the human being into a relationship with the divine, but Christianity speaks of God coming down to where we live to embrace us in our brokenness. What a beautiful expression of good news, Christian faith is.

Why would we love Jesus? I’ve been reading Psalm 103 as part of my daily devotions. This Psalm says God unconditionally loves each one of us. We read, “As high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is God’s loving kindness for us” (vs. 11).

God forgives all our sins. This is His promise in the name of Jesus who went to the cross for us and was raised from the dead to proclaim the forgiveness of sins to all who believe. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has God removed our sins from us” (Psalm 103:12).

John 15:13 says, “Greater love has no one than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.” You are my friends, Jesus says. The cross of Jesus tells us He sacrificially loved us so He might transform us into being the people of God. In the cross, Jesus offers us a new beginning. The beloved twenty-third Psalm says, “God restores my soul.”

I don’t know where your area of struggle, melancholy, brokenness, or guilt is, but this I know: God in the name of Jesus comes to know us in love in a way that heals us from inside out. God restores our soul. As a result, I feel great gratitude toward Jesus as my friend, as my God. I love Him for all the ways He has blessed and continues to bless me.

I trust my life to Him – not just my eternal destiny someday when I die. I trust Jesus with my life every day now. His spirit gives me joy.

So my faith today confesses and confirms that Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah, the anointed One of God. Jesus is our Savior who delivers us from our sin, guilt, and shame. He lifts us up to new life.

Jesus is the Son of God. He has the power and authority to save us. If He were not God then His death on the cross could not have atoned for our sins. But Jesus is the Son of God the Father, who gave Him the glory and power of His position. He emptied Himself that He might rescue us. He is our Lord, the master of our lives. I turn my life over to His control.

Finally, to say it again, I know Jesus Christ as my friend. I trust Him. I trust His promises. I invite His Holy Spirit to live within me. For all these reasons I am grateful I can know God because of Jesus Christ, and His Spirit indwells me. May you know Him, too, as your friend and your God.

James 2:23 says, “Abraham believed God, and God reckoned to him as righteousness, and he was called God’s friend.” May your faith in our great God, who has revealed Himself to us in Jesus, give you peace and joy today. May you know that God calls you His son, His daughter, and you are the friend of God. Amen.

Pastor Lee Laaveg