“The Spirit gives life; the flesh counts for nothing. The words I have spoken to you are spirit and they are life. Yet there are some of you who do not believe.”
—John 6:63-64 (NIV)
If I could crawl into the Word of God, I’d do it. Sometimes it seems like I actually do crawl into the Word of God—at least my spirit does. And especially at this time of year. Somehow all the commercial hype, cheesy songs, and inflatable Santas just conspire to send me running to my home base, the Word of God.
Don’t get me wrong. There are parts of Christmas I really like. Jammin’ with B.E. Taylor and Donnie Iris to B.E.’s “Taylorized” classics is fun. Plus the candles, the snow, and the buckeye cookies all celebrate the season right. So, there’s that good stuff.
But, please! Could we skip the Black Friday sales that try to erase Thanksgiving by starting at 4 p.m. on Thanksgiving Day? My turkey’s still in the oven! Aren’t we a thankless-enough nation without mowing over this one day of gratitude? The commercial Christmas machine starts there, and it runs on tilt for about a month or so giving me a psoriasis outbreak. Maybe we should all practice saying “excess” together.
So…when the superficiality of the season threatens to sink my spirits, I like to get back to the basics. I did that just the other morning. Although it was only 8 a.m., and I’d been up barely long enough to have my eyes open, there I was on the bedroom floor pawing through a stack of books to find my latest treasure. Get this: a glossy, colorful magazine I’d found at the grocery store published by Time, Inc., and called Jesus: 89 Inspiring Ways to Know Christ.
I couldn’t believe it! What was this periodical doing alongside Self, Cosmo, and National Enquirer? I didn’t care. And though I couldn’t read the fine print until later (including the price of $12.99!), I bought it anyway and eagerly awaited the time when I could sit down with this gorgeous thing, put my face two inches from it, close one eye, and soak up the contents.
Jesus, the magazine and the person, did not disappoint.
A look over the table of contents and the introduction showed the book’s focus:
*the proper names of Jesus;
*Jesus’ references to Himself;
*conclusions we can draw about Jesus based on His words;
*and names He was called erroneously.
This special publication (put out around the holidays) is broken into five sections:
*The Object of Prophecy
*Hope of Salvation
Under each of the five sections, the book is further divided into 89 days with descriptions of Jesus. For example in Section 1: Mighty God (from Isaiah 9:6). Section 2: The One on Whom God Placed His Spirit (from Matthew 12:18), and on it goes till Section 5, day 89: Jesus Christ (from 1 Peter 1:2).
I admit I bought the book because I was curious about its publication. (Who is putting this out and why?) Plus the magazine’s unusual location intrigued me. I’d expect to find something like this at the Christian bookstore, but not a chain grocery store.
And OK! I’m a sucker for a glossy, well-produced magazine, and here was my favorite subject.
Initially I worried about the soundness of its teachings. Was this on the up and up? We always have to be discerning about that. But I needn’t have worried. I later noticed the American Bible Society logo on the back. Consequently, the book proved Biblically correct, and I decided to have my son read it with me the first night.
We got to Jesus being the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), and the magazine talked about the government of Israel, the threat of the Assyrian army, and Jesus’ “Ever-expanding peaceful government that will never end.”
All that Jewish history and army talk prompted him to ask a question:
“Did Hitler want to exterminate the Jewish race or religion or both?”
Have I mentioned that this kid is intense?
I answered, “Both,” though I’m not 100% sure. It was my best guess.This 10-year-old makes my head spin all the time with his deep questions and concerns.
I wanted to tell him, “Hey, kid! I’m crawling into the Word of God here. Trying to comfort myself and teach you. So could you not pepper me with tough questions?” But I said nothing. I know he hates Hitler and loves Jesus. And the Word of God stirs up deep concerns in believers of all ages. So while it’s true I sometimes thank God for my son’s sharp mind and strong will, I also ask God to let him use that mind on someone else for a while. (I’m so weary!)
Then we went on to read Isaiah’s description of the coming Messiah as the “Wonderful Counselor.” Ahhh…now this is comfort for the weary and true substance for the season! Here is Isaiah prophesying about Jesus 700 years before His birth. What could be better? We ended our study there.
But my enjoyment of God’s Word goes on, and I hope yours does, too! This magazine proved to be a fantastic gift I gave to myself… and hopefully a gift to my readers by extension. It’s so fulfilling to see the seamless thread of Jesus from Old Testament to New. And to realize that He lives on in the hearts of believers today.
It truly is enough to comfort the weary and give meaning to the season.
Thank you, Lord, for the revelation of Your Word. May we never tire of digging into it to learn more of who you are and why you came. Let all who read this be burdened with a heart to know you better and find the lasting joy only You can provide. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
As Always… Journey Along,