Who is like the Lord our God, who is seated on high, who looks far down on the heavens and the earth? He raises the poor from the dust. Psalm 113:5-7
Jesus Christ, though he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be exploited, but emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, being born in human likeness. Philippians 2:6-7
One of the people at the gym where I workout is a significant leader in the Mormon church. As such she is a dedicated workout enthusiast and a strong advocate for moral decency and good behavior. The formal name of her church uses the name Jesus Christ, but I haven’t had or taken the opportunity to ask her what she thinks about Jesus. I wonder how she would answer my question, “What does Jesus mean to you?”
Marshall had that question asked of him by a youth in our confirmation program. When he shared that question at our recent men’s retreat I began to reflect on it myself. I wonder how my friend would answer that question. I wonder how you, dear reader, would answer that question.
How would I answer that question? There is a theological answer: He is the Son of the Eternal God, co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. One in essence. He is the Savior of the world, the spotless Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. Before Abraham was, he says, “I am.” Quite a claim!
He is also the son of Mary. He is true man who suffered and died on a cross. He got weary and fell asleep in a boat during a raging storm. He ate and drank with the high and mighty and the lowly and poor. He was a friend of sinners. He was thought to be the son of a carpenter.
All those are true, but they don’t really answer the question, “What does Jesus mean to you?” My answer: He means life, hope, forgiveness, purpose, direction, challenge, blessing, favor, mercy, goodness, steadfastness, and love. He is the One True Thing in all of life – the thing that never changes, never wavers, never disappoints. When I fail he is there to forgive me, help me back up, and send me on my way again. He is true in every sense of the word – no sugar-coating. No glad-handing. No soft shoe dancing.
Back to my Mormon friend: I’m not certain how she would answer that question, but I do know that the Mormon view of Jesus is not that he existed from all eternity as God the Son. And I know if someone goes to a Jesus who is not the real, true Jesus, their hopes in that false Jesus will be gravely misplaced.
Yet another thought comes to mind: If God has revealed himself to us in Jesus, and recorded for us in his word that Jesus is one with the Father and the Holy Spirit, there may be an implication to that reality that we do not yet fully understand. In other words, truth is not important only because or if it has practical reasonable implications. The implications and significance of God’s truth about the true identity of Jesus may unfold in profoundly glorious ways in the life of the world to come. Then, the Bible tells us, we will know even as we will be fully known. Until that time I do well to think seriously about what Jesus means to me. I urge you to do so as well.