Who Does Jesus Say That He Is?
Study Guide, February 13, 2022
Pastor Clay Olsen
Being that it’s Valentine’s Appreciation Sunday, and that Valentines is also a time of sharing gifts with and gratitude to our loved ones, the Chapel has a gift for each of you. We are passing on a gift that the Chapel was gifted with…a book study on the amazing identity and love of God. It’s called ‘Gentle and Lowly’, by Pastor Dane Ortlund. So after the service be sure and pick up your copy and get ready to enjoy a Biblical look at our God and Savior and this special way that Jesus describes Himself. And for a preview we are going to highlight some of the themes and implications from this Biblical study of God’s amazing love for us. And perhaps you will come to see and to know our Savior in fresh ways that will then impact your understanding of both our great God and of your relationship with Him. So here we go…(And besides the Scripture passages, I’m also going to put the references I get from the book in italics in the study guide so that you will know to look for those as you read it. And the book and author are noted in the guides as well. It’s always important to give credit where credit is due.)
The Bible is filled with names of our great God and Savior. Names like ‘the Bright Morning Star’, the Chief Cornerstone’, ‘the Way, the Truth, and the Life’, the Light of the World’, ‘the Alpha and Omega’, and many more. But there is one place in the Scriptures where Jesus not only says ‘Who He is’, but in saying ‘Who He is’, He also speaks volumes about what He is really like, and how we are to understand what He is really like, as well as to then understand what we can expect in our relationship with Him. And when you think about it, oddly enough, even many Christians often think of Jesus and then relate to Jesus in ways that are not at all according to Jesus’ real character, nor the way that Jesus wants them to relate to Him and to understand Him and to do life together with Him.
Let’s look: Matt 11:28-30- “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” NKJV Of all the ways the Mighty God, Creator and Lord, the Judge of all the Earth, could have described Himself, Jesus chooses ‘gentle and lowly’ as the way in which He wanted people to understand Who Jesus, our Messiah, really is!
Charles Spurgeon pointed out that in the four Gospels, out of eighty-nine chapters of Biblical text-there’s only one place where Jesus tells us about His own heart. It’s here in Matthew 11:29. And remember, the heart is what drives all we do. It is who we are. Jesus’ heart is not only ‘gentle and lowly’ it is gentle and lowly’ towards us. Did you catch that? When you come to Jesus you are not coming to a heart that is harsh and uncaring, you are not coming to a heart that is vindictive and reluctant, you are not coming to a heart that is capricious and confusing, no…when you come to Jesus you are coming to a heart that is kind and caring, gracious and merciful, considerate and humble. Is that the way that you know Jesus? And, is that the way you come to Jesus and the way you communicate with Jesus and the way you relate to Jesus? Is that how you see Jesus? Do you see Jesus the way Jesus sees Himself? Do you see Jesus the way Jesus said we are to see Him and to understand His heart?
How about this? Do you come to Jesus the way Jesus wants you to come to Him? Matt 11:28-30- “Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.” At one time or another, perhaps even often, doesn’t that pretty much include all of us? Whatever your burden is, Jesus says to you: “Come to Me with it.” Maybe your burden that you carry is the struggle against the ungodliness and the unfairness and the injustice all around you. Maybe your burden is your relationship at home or at the office or among your peers. Maybe your burden is frustration with your health or your finances or your circumstances. Maybe your burden is your remorse or regrets or even your reluctance to come to Jesus because of it all. But what does Jesus say about any of and all of your burdens? ‘Come to Me with all of your burdens…bring all of your burdens to Me, no matter how heavy they are, bring them to Me and I will give you rest.’
Now, you know very well how your burdens make you feel. But did you ever stop to realize how it makes Jesus feel when you gather up your burdens and bring them to Him? Did you realize that Jesus delights to have you come to Him with your burdens, and that He delights to show you mercy, and that He delights to forgive you, and that He delights to be the One you turn to when you are weary and heavy laden? Did you ever realize in your life that what Jesus wants most in life is you coming to Him? Just come…over and over. Come to Him every day…and come in whatever way and in whatever circumstances you are in…just come. Come with whatever burdens you have or needs you have. God made you to do life with Him. He wants you to come to Him, not only with your blessings of worship and service unto Him, but also with your failings and your flaws and your heavy burdens that you carry in your life. He made you to do it all with Him…in all of life’s majestic-ness, and with all of life’s messiness…even your messiness.
Did you realize that when you turn to Jesus as the One who is your all and all for any and all of the problems and the burdens that you carry, that you bring Him great delight? He delights in knowing that you would think and are thinking of and are looking to your God and Savior as being the very One that you most need and most want in life? Does it amaze you to know that Jesus delights in being wanted and needed by you? Jesus says to you, ‘Come to Me…come every day and in every way and for everything on your mind and heart. Just come.’
When you first came to Jesus for your salvation, you came just as you were. We rejoice in the healing words of the hymn – ‘Just As I Am’. It comforts our soul and calms our mind because it’s so encouraging to learn that whatever our sins or struggles or failings were, we know that Jesus wanted us to come to Him just like we were. And we were assured that Jesus’ arms would be wide open to us to just come to Him in our sin and shame. Well, guess what? Jesus hasn’t changed. Jesus hasn’t changed in how much He wanted you to come to Him then, and in how much He wants you to come to Him now, again and again, just as you are. Not for your salvation, because He already gave you His gift of His eternal life when you opened the door of your life and asked Him to come in and be your Lord and Savior. But now there is one thing that has changed. Note how the Apostle Paul put it: Rom 5:10-11- “For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. And not only this, but we also exult in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation. NASU
God’s wondrous love for us now is even much more than it was before, now that we are His very children. And this means that Jesus arms are still wide open to us to come to Him just as we are. Jesus’ heart was gently and lowly towards us when we were lost. Will His heart be any different towards us now that we are found? He has even given you and me a special invitation to come to Him, especially in our time of need. Heb 4:14-16- “So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for He faced all of the same testings we do, yet He did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive His mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most.” NLT
But what often happens is when we need His mercy most is when we least feel that we can come to Him. But that’s the faulty reasoning of our fallen nature at work in our minds. Do not trust the feelings of your fallen nature. Trust the truths of Jesus’ words to you…Just come, and come boldly, confidently, assuredly to the throne of your gracious God. Jesus promises to give you His mercy when you give Him your burdens…even your burdens of sin. That’s why we sing about Amazing Grace…because it is amazing.
And, as pointed out in Ortlund’s study: Christ’s own joy, comfort, happiness, and glory are increased and enlarged by His showing grace and mercy, in pardoning, relieving, and comforting His members (children) here on Earth. Christ gets more joy and comfort than we do when we come to Him for help and mercy. It’s the same way that a loving husband gets more relief and comfort in his wife’s healing that in his own. Is that how you understand Jesus’ giving you His mercy and giving you His grace in your time of need? It should if you are to enjoy the kind of relationship with Jesus that He wants you to enjoy.
Let’s expand this a bit. So, when did God’s love for you begin? When you earned it, when you deserved it, when you demonstrated your love for Him? Listen to what God said to His people after years of their wandering, stumbling, and failing and now being restored to fellowship with Him. I’ll list several versions for clarification.
Jer 31:3- “The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; Therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” NKJV
Jer 31:3- “I appeared to them from far away. People of Israel, I have always loved you, so I continue to show you My constant love.” TEV
Jer 31:3- “From far away he saw the Lord: My love for you is an eternal love: so with mercy I have made you come with me.” BBE
God loved you even before He made you. Therefore, God’s love for you is not based upon what you have done, it’s based upon ‘Who’ God is, and ‘who’ God has made you. That’s why God’s love for us as His children is unconditional for us because it is conditional upon God Himself and His promises to us. It’s conditioned upon the fact that God has loved us with an everlasting love, an eternal love, whereby God says to us, “I have always loved you, so I continue to show you My constant love.” That is God’s promise to you and to me. And it’s based upon our relationship with God as being our Heavenly Father and our Eternal Savior.
Here is another mind jarring difference between us and God, especially in relation to the wonder of ‘love’. The Bible often talks about God’s people having love for one another. Jesus even commanded us to love one another. The Apostle John charged us to show love to one another and to, again, have love for one another. But here’s the amazing difference: As God’s children, we ‘have’ love, but with God, as the Apostle reveals to us all…as for God, God ‘is’ love. God doesn’t just ‘have’ love like we ‘have’ love. No, God ‘IS’ love.
As is pointed out in Ortlund’s study: God’s love is, as Jonathan Edwards put it: “an ocean without shores or bottom.” God’s love is as boundless as God Himself. This is why the Apostle Paul speaks of divine love as a reality that stretches to an immeasurable ‘breadth and length and height and depth’ (Eph.3:18) – the only thing in the universe as immeasurable as that is God Himself. God’s love is as expansive as God Himself…God does not simply ‘have’ love; for He ‘is’ love. (1 Jn. 4:16)
Have you ever thought about the love of God as being like ‘an ocean without shores or bottom’? One of the blessings of living right by the Atlantic Ocean is getting to see with our own eyes just how immense and overwhelming in size and depth the Ocean really is. I’ve even heard some people that were visiting here say that one of the reasons they were here is that their Doctor said that being near and looking at and listening to and experiencing the wonders of the Ocean would be good therapy for them. It would have a therapeutic effect on them. I think we can all attest to that. Well, try seeing something else when you look out over the Ocean…try seeing it as ‘the love of God’. And not only see this ‘Ocean of God’s love’, but also listen to it and let yourself be surrounded by this sea of God’s love, and then learn to do what the Apostle Peter once did upon it. Matt 14:25-31- “About three o’clock in the morning Jesus came toward them, walking on the water. When the disciples saw Him walking on the water, they were terrified. In their fear, they cried out, “It’s a ghost!” But Jesus spoke to them at once. “Don’t be afraid,” he said. “Take courage. I am here!” Then Peter called to him, “Lord, if it’s really you, tell me to come to you, walking on the water.” “Yes, come,” Jesus said.
So Peter went over the side of the boat and walked on the water toward Jesus. But when he saw the strong wind and the waves, he was terrified and began to sink. “Save me, Lord!” he shouted. Jesus immediately reached out and grabbed him. “You have so little faith,” Jesus said. “Why did you doubt Me?” NLT
We each need to learn to walk upon the water with Jesus. Sure, we live on land, but we need to walk by faith upon the water…upon the water of God’s love. For that is the therapy our souls need. That is the assurance our minds and hearts need. And if the winds get strong and the waves get rough…if the world confuses you and your own heart discourages you, if you feel heavy laden and carry heavy burdens, look to Jesus and listen to what He is saying to you: “Yes, come.” “Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”
Come to Jesus and get to know His heart toward you, and it will change your heart about your God and your life and everything else.
(Italicized notes from the book ‘Gentle and Lowly’ by Dane Ortlund)