Posted: 7/29/15 at 11:15am. Column by Ed Jordan.
“There was a man who dwelt in the east centuries ago, and now I cannot look at a sheep or a sparrow, a lily or a cornfield, a raven or a sunset, a vineyard or a mountain, without thinking of Him.”
This quote from G.K. Chesterton (A Year with G.K. Chesterton, p. 225, Kevin Belmonte, Editor) is poetically poignant, and yet stunningly simple. There has never been another human like Jesus. He arrived via a miraculous birth, lived a flawless life, taught as no other person taught, and was good to His word that He would rise from the dead on the third day. His life and teachings have changed people, countries, cultures, and eternity.
Here I am, more than two thousand years after His life, death and resurrection, writing a column reflecting upon the uniqueness and teachings of Jesus. Reread Chesterton’s quote at the beginning of this column, and think about what it means. The quote was made over 100 years ago, and it is still true today as when it was written.
The depth of Jesus’ wisdom, and the power of His words are unparalleled in human history, and the words of Jesus still confront us each day with brilliance and truth. This was Chesterton’s point. The teachings of Jesus come to life, and to our minds, 2000 years after He said them. His truth transcends time, culture, life and death.
When we see a sheep, our minds remind us of Jesus’ parable of the lost sheep (cf. Luke 15:4-7). A man had one hundred sheep, and upon discovering that one sheep was missing, he left the ninety nine in order to go out and find the one which was lost and in danger.
Jesus is the good shepherd, who came to seek and find us when we were lost. Jesus also taught in John 10:27–28 (ESV): “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Upon seeing a sparrow or raven we think of Jesus’ words that God feeds the birds of the air, so we should not worry about what we will eat or drink. The God who feeds sparrows will care for us as well.
This is what Jesus said in Matthew 6:25-26 (NLT): “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?” Just as God gives the lilies of the field beautiful attire, He will also provide us with proper attire.
The image of a vineyard brings to mind various teachings of Jesus. In John 15 Jesus says that He is the vine, and Christians are the branches. The life of God flows into us via Jesus. Separated from Jesus, the source of life, we can do nothing.
Precisely, in John 15:5 (ESV) Jesus states: “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.”
Many people today are under the false impression that they don’t need to be attached to, or active in, a Christian church. But Jesus, the true vine, is not just connected to one branch, but rather to many. We need to be connected to Jesus, and then connected to the group of believers that we call a church (which is the coordinated organism comprised of the vine and many branches).
A branch disconnected from Jesus and the other branches is useless, fruitless, and in danger of drying up and withering away to nothing. Believers make up the body of Christ, which is comprised of many members that assist each other and the whole body to carry out what God designed us to accomplish.
Anyone who has met Jesus has been impacted by His words, and thereafter that person soon experiences Jesus’ living presence and reality everywhere in his or her everyday life. When we hear what Jesus said, we too say: “Never did a man speak the way that this man speaks.” (cf. John 7:46).
When was the last time you spent some time each day reading the words of Jesus? Why not spend the next month reading a chapter each day from Matthew, Mark, Luke or John focusing and reflecting upon what Jesus said and did. You might make some amazing discoveries!