How to Find Jesus
The whole of the Bible is about Jesus. Martin Luther said, ‘Scripture is the manger in which the Christ lies.’ As a mother goes to a cradle to find her baby, so the Christian goes to the Bible to find Jesus. Don’t inspect the cradle and forget to worship the baby.
In today’s passages we see how Jesus Christ is revealed not only in the New Testament, in the book of Revelation, but also in the Old Testament – in Proverbs and Zechariah.
1. The name of Jesus
Is there any evidence for God?
‘The sceptic swore, “There is no God!
No God! – I can do anything I want!...
I see no evidence of a holy God”’ (vv.1–3, MSG).
The sceptic goes on to ask five questions (v.4):
- Who has gone up to heaven and come down?
- Whose hands have gathered up the wind?
- Who has wrapped up the waters in a cloak?
- Who has established all the ends of the earth?
- What is that person’s name, and what is the name of that person’s son?
The New Testament reveals that the answer to each of these five questions is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, Jesus. It is Jesus who ascended on high (see, for example, Ephesians 4:8–10). It is through Jesus that the whole world came into being (John 1:1–3). He is the name above every name (Philippians 2:9). The evidence for God is found in Jesus.
The New Testament reveals that the name of God is Jesus. The writer of Proverbs cares deeply about ‘the name of [his] God’ (Proverbs 30:9). He asks for ‘neither poverty nor riches’ (v.8). He fears that riches may make him disown the Lord and poverty might make him steal and thereby ‘dishonour the name of [his] God’ (v.9).
I worship you, Jesus, the name above every name. I bow my knee before you. Be my shield today as I take refuge in you (v.5). Give me today my daily bread (v.8).
2. The words of Jesus
These words of Jesus (‘The First and the Last, who died and came to life again’, v.8) to the seven churches are hugely challenging. The risen, ascended, glorified Jesus reveals what kind of church he wants:
- Don’t lose your first love
Jesus is looking for a church that is famous, above all, for its love.
Do you remember what you felt when you first encountered Jesus? Perhaps you experienced joy, peace, a new sense of meaning and purpose, and an excitement. Did you ‘fall in love’? Was there a ‘honeymoon period’?
As life goes on it is easy to lose your ‘first love’ (v.4). Other things creep in. Work, the busyness of life, or even your ministry can lead you away from the passion of your first love.
Jesus commends their service: ‘I know your deeds, your hard work’ (v.2). But there have been times in my life when I’ve been working so hard for the kingdom that I have neglected the King.
Jesus commends their patience in suffering and perseverance: ‘you have… endured hardship for my name’ (v.3). But there have been times when I have been so focussed on my own problems and suffering that I have lost my enthusiasm.
He commends the orthodoxy of their beliefs – they have not tolerated evil (v.2). But there have been times when I have been so concerned about orthodoxy that I have forgotten to love.
Jesus challenges: ‘You have forsaken your first love’ (v.4). These are haunting words. What are you to do if this has happened?
First, Jesus urges you to remember your first love – to remember the height from which you have fallen (v.5). Never lose your first love, enthusiasm and excitement about Jesus.
Second, repent and clean up your act. If you have slipped into complacency or compromise, you may need to get rid of the dross. As we read in Zechariah, ‘I will refine them like silver and test them like gold. They will call on my name and I will answer them; I will say, “They are my people”, and they will say, “The Lord is our God”’ (Zechariah 13:9).
If you are in a time of testing and trial in your life, God will use the heat of the fire to refine you.
Third, return to doing the things you did when you first encountered Jesus. ‘Do the things you did at first’ (Revelation 2:5).
- Stand firm in the face of persecution
Pastor Nadarkhani was imprisoned in Iran for no other reason than his faith in Jesus Christ. He was sentenced to death. As a result of international pressure he was released and reunited with his family. I had the privilege of interviewing him at HTB. We were all inspired by his faithfulness and courage.
Only two of the seven churches are not faulted by Jesus – Smyrna and Philadelphia. Smyrna is spiritually rich in spite of the persecutions and material poverty: ‘I know your afflictions and your poverty – yet you are rich!’ (v.9).
Jesus’ words to the church are not ‘repent’ (as so often was the case with the other churches), but rather, ‘Do not be afraid’ (v.10). Like the persecuted church today, they faced prison, persecution and even death. But God has set a limit (‘for ten days’) and promises, ‘I will give you the crown of life’ (v.10b).
- Fight for the truth
The church in Pergamum was living in the most godless place on earth – ‘where Satan has his throne’ (v.13). Yet Jesus says, ‘You remain true to my name’ (v.13). They have not renounced their faith in Jesus in spite of persecution.
Nevertheless, Jesus challenges them about holding to false teaching and committing sexual immorality (v.14). Truth matters. He calls them to repent (v.16), and promises that if they overcome, he will give them food that feeds the soul (‘the hidden manna’, v.17) and eternal security in Christ.
Lord, may I never lose my first love for you. Help me to remember the height from which I have fallen and return to you. Thank you for the inspiring courage of the persecuted church in the face of great trial. Help me to hold to your truth in spite of our culture. Keep me faithful to you.
3. The grace of Jesus
God promises his people: ‘I will pour out... a spirit of grace and supplication’ (12:10). The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of grace and supplication. He pours into your heart God’s grace (his undeserved love for you) and helps you to pray (see Romans 8:26–27). The Holy Spirit is at work in your thoughts – prompting you to pray for people and situations.
How is all this possible? Zechariah continues, ‘They will look on me, the one they have pierced’ (Zechariah 12:10). Who is the one they have pierced? The apostle John gives us the answer: ‘One of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear… These things happened so that the Scripture would be fulfilled… “They will look on the one they have pierced”’ (John 19:34–37).
What is the result? ‘On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity’ (Zechariah 13:1). This is the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through his death, through him being pierced for you, he makes it possible for you to be cleansed from sin and impurity.
Jesus seemed to have this passage in mind when he was thinking about his own death. He quoted Zechariah 13:7 when predicting that, upon his arrest, the disciples would desert him: ‘Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered’ (v.7; see Matthew 26:31,56).
The words of Zechariah 14 can be seen as looking forward to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, and also to his return:
- Jesus is the one whose feet would stand on the Mount of Olives (Zechariah 14:4; Matthew 21:1)
- Jesus is the one to go out and fight against the nations in the day of battle (Zechariah 14:3; Revelation 20)
- Jesus is the one out of whom living water would flow (Zechariah 14:8; John 7:37–39)
- Jesus is the one who will be worshipped as king (Zechariah 14:16; Revelation 5)
- Jesus is the one who makes it possible for ‘HOLY TO THE LORD’ to be inscribed on everything (Zechariah 14:20)
- Jesus abolishes the distinction between the secular and the sacred. The cooking pots were the most common household vessels, yet they too had the words ‘HOLY TO THE LORD’ inscribed on them
Lord, thank you that you promise to pour out a spirit of grace and supplication on me. Thank you that you opened a fountain to cleanse me from sin and impurity. Cleanse me today and fill me again with your Holy Spirit. Help me to love with all the enthusiasm of my first love for Jesus and to bring honour to the name of Jesus.
‘To the church in Ephesus... in Smyrna... in Pergamum’
I wonder what Jesus would say about our church. Maybe all the things we think we do rather well, he wouldn’t be impressed with. He would probably be pleased with the small acts of faith that we don’t particularly notice.