If you spent any time in Sunday School as a child, you know that God is love. You know the Christmas story and the Easter story, and you know that Jesus died for you. But when the harsh realities of life kick in, sometimes these stories can seem like fairy tales.
When you feel disconnected from the Lord, or you feel like God doesn’t love you, what will help restore your trust in His goodness? What do you really need to know about Jesus that will keep you “on track” spiritually?
Here are "5 Essential Things" you to know about Jesus, things that will get you through the tougher times in life. They are not EVERYTHING there is to know about Jesus, they're just some essential things I believe will help you hang on when the going gets tough.
1. Jesus Was the Exact Representation of God
If you go back to the Torah, the first 5 books of the Bible, you see that Moses at one point asks God who He is and what He is like. He says, “Show me Your glory, God; show me who You are. Show me what’s different and unique about you.”
And God agrees. He says, “I’m not going to show you My face, but I’ll let you see some of My glory.”
So he does. The Bible says God descends in a cloud on the top of Mount Sinai. He stands with Moses and proclaims His Name. He passes by and says of Himself:
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering and abounding in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and fourth generation.” (Exodus 34:6-7)
And then God makes a covenant with Moses and Israel, saying that if they follow Him He will do miracles for them and deliver them.
If we made a list of God’s attributes based just on this section of Scripture it might look like this:
Roughly 1500 years later God does the unthinkable and He says to Himself, “you know what, I think instead of showing them My back, I’m going to show them My face now.” Once again, God shows His glory, this time in the form of a Son. He sends Jesus to earth, and Hebrews 1:3 tells us that the Son was the “radiance of God’s glory and exact representation of His being.”
What does that mean? He looked just like Him!
As I was meditating on these Scriptures, the Lord reminded me of a story that I thought I’d share with you to help illustrate this point.
My husband, Kevan and I have three sons. Our oldest, Micah, is now 17 and almost ready to go off to college.
When Micah was born, all the grandparents showed up at the hospital. (In fact, I'm pretty sure they were there before he was!) When he arrived, the first thing they said was “Oh, he looks just like you!” They found the Perkins ears, the Perkins chin, the Perkins cheeks, you know the drill – all the things that proved he was an authentic “Perkins” boy! (It didn’t matter to them that I thought he was Italian, because he came out with jet-black hair! I was wondering if someone had switched kids on me in the nursery!)
It was important to the previous generation that the next generation “look like them.”
It was so important, in fact, that when Micah was three years old I received a phone call from my mother in law. She asked if I would please dress up my firstborn in a little sailor suit that she had and take his picture. When I asked why, she told me that when Kevan was 5, she had dressed him up in a sailor suit and taken a professional photo of him. (I guess it was the fad back then to take pictures of little boys in sailor suits!)
Joyce wanted a picture of her grandson that was an exact replica of her son. So here is the photo of Kevan from 1966:
If you’ve had kids, you know that taking a three-year-old boy to a strange place with bright lights at naptime, and then forcing him to wear a sailor suit and a hat and smile is a sure recipe for disaster. This is what we did. Silly first-time parents!
I don’t know how it happened, but after several hours of Micah kicking and screaming and crying, we finally left with a picture of him smiling. Here is the photo. Like Father, Like Son!
You have to admit that we got pretty close to an “exact representation” of the father in the son!
But dressing a boy up like a sailor doesn’t make him a sailor. Even having the Perkins ears doesn’t make you a Perkins. What makes you a son or a daughter starts on the inside. It’s the seed of the Father in you. It’s how you act, what you believe. How you speak and what you do. It’s loving the same things that your father does. It’s being born into the family that makes you a son.
When God’s Son is born, no one has ever seen God. So instead of saying to Jesus, “you look just like Him!” people said, “How dare you say you’re God’s Son! How can you call Him Abba, Father?” They couldn’t accept that the seed of the Father was planted in the Son.
The Jews didn’t recognize their own savior because they didn’t have an accurate picture of God the Father in their hearts. What they had was an image of a political redeemer or a powerful leader, not a humble deliverer. If they had gone back to that day when Moses met with God, they would have known immediately that Jesus was God’s Son. Here’s how Jesus compares to the Father:
John takes on the role of an adoring relative when he writes chapter 1 of his gospel. He says this: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14, NKJV)
John is saying – “Look, here’s God’s firstborn Son! Do you see the Father’s glory? He’s got the same grace as His Father. He’s full of His Father’s truth! He looks just like Him!” John is pointing out the similarities between Father and Son, just any grandparent would do.
John also says that although Jesus was in the world and the world was made through Him, the world did not know Him. He came to His own people, and His own did not receive Him.
Jesus was not just the exact representation of God; He WAS GOD. So if you ever wonder what God thinks about something, you just look at Jesus. Does God want to heal? Jesus healed 100% of the sick people who came to Him. Does God know who you are? Jesus knew the name of Zaccheus before Zaccheus ever met Him.
When Peter asked Jesus to show them the Father, Jesus said: “He who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father? If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him and have seen Him.” (John 14:9)
When we see Jesus, it’s like looking at that picture of my son; we see the Father in him. And so from now on, you never need to wonder what the Father is like. If you know Jesus, you know God. And if you don’t know Jesus yet, we will happily introduce you to Him at the end of this service! Just like Jesus, you are made in the image of God. When people look at you, they see Jesus!
2. Jesus Always Did What the Father Was Doing
We know this from the Scripture in John 5:19:“The Son can do nothing by Himself; He can only do what He sees His Father doing, because whatever the Father does the Son also does.”
To put this another way, Jesus lived a purpose-driven life, but His purpose didn’t come from within Himself, it came from the Father.
How many of you, at the beginning of a New Year or a new career, have ever sat down and written out a mission statement or a vision statement for your lives? When Jesus created His mission statement, this is what He said:
The Spirit of the Lord is on Me,
because He has anointed Me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent Me
to proclaim freedom to the captives
and recovery of sight to the blind,
to set free the oppressed,
To proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)
When you read the accounts of what Jesus did in the Gospels, you find that He was always true to His mission.
For example, a woman came to Jesus once on the Sabbath. Her body had been bleeding for 18 years. Jesus healed her. He fulfilled His mission. But He didn’t just heal her, He also gave us a glimpse into the heart of the Father, who was working with Him.
He said, “Shouldn’t this woman, whom Satan has kept bound for 18 years, be set free on the Sabbath day from what bound her?” When Jesus said this, even His enemies were humiliated. Why? Because this kind of love had never been seen before, love that went beyond legalism. Love that would go to such an extreme as to violate religious rules about the Sabbath in order to heal a fellow human being.
The compassion of God silences even His enemies. It reminds me of the song “Reckless Love,” which we sing often in church:
“There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
No lie You won't tear down
Coming after me.”
Jesus did what the Father was doing. God is still healing and delivering people today, and He will do this for you.
3. Jesus Only Said What the Father Was Saying
I want to show you something special in the Scriptures that is incredibly good news for us. Turn to John 14:14:
“IF YOU ASK ANYTHING IN MY NAME, I WILL DO IT.”
This isn’t just Jesus talking. If you go back a few verses to John 14:10, you’ll hear Jesus saying, “Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on My own authority; but the Father who dwells in Me does the works.”
Jesus only said what the Father was saying. The Father dwells in Jesus. So when Jesus says, “Ask me anything,” it’s the Father saying, “Ask Me anything!”
This isn’t just a loving father spoiling His child. This is Someone who believes so strongly in the life of God dwelling in us, that He trusts us. He trusts us to carry on the same mission Jesus outlined and to do even GREATER works than those Jesus did.
I don’t know about you, but this makes me happy. It brings me freedom. It gives me courage to believe that I am FAMILY. I belong. So do you!
4. Jesus Lived the Perfect Life You Couldn't Live. He Took the Punishment for Your Sins
2 Corinthians 5:21 says: God made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Christ. Isaiah says Christ was numbered with the transgressors. He poured out his soul until He died. He bore the burden of our sins and interceded for us. He offered a perfect sacrifice, fulfilling every detail of the law, and satisfied God’s requirements.
God SO loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him – not whoever works for Him or tries to overcome sin in his own strength – but whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
5. Jesus is Alive Today, Praying for You Because He Loves You!
Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father. The Bible says He “ever lives to make intercession for us.” That means He’s praying for you right now.
Hebrews tells us that we have a compassionate high priest. No problem you can throw at Jesus is too big; He has seen and experienced it all. Because of His time on earth, because of what He experienced at the hands of men, He can pray effectively for you in any situation.
Jesus has been rejected. He’s been betrayed. He’s been the victim of violence. He was falsely accused on more than one occasion. He was abandoned by friends and family. He was disfigured. He was alienated. He was tempted in various ways. He was spat upon, abused, and told He was a child of hell. He suffered the death of a close friend. His quiet times were interrupted by bad weather, needy people, and His own inner circle. He’s seen suicides, robberies, hatred, malice, greed and anger. He’s lost His family and been told He’s an arrogant man who didn’t know squat about religion. He knows what you’ve experienced, and He knows it firsthand.
Jesus has lived in a wilderness, had nowhere to sleep, worked a menial job, suffered a famine and wandered aimlessly in a desert. He’s been beaten, stoned, imprisoned, pierced and crucified.
But glory to God, He’s also been baptized by the Holy Spirit, called the Son of God, spoken to millions, and been raised from the dead. He’s performed resurrections and released restorations. His speeches went viral and He’s been summoned before Kings. He’s shown mercy to the weak, healed the sick, and delivered the demonized. And He still does this today.
He’s stilled the storms, trained his disciples, and fed the poor. He’s loved the loveless, carried the suffering, and ministered to the masses. JESUS LOVES YOU. Because Jesus is God, that means that God loves you, too.
Jesus went through all of the things He did so that the love of God could be released upon you, and not only that, but so that the love of God could dwell in you. Anyone who accepts Christ as their Lord and Savior, believing that He came from God and returned to the Father, can know this love forever. It’s a love that is free of religion and based entirely on relationship.
I want to close with the most essential thing you need to know about Jesus, from Romans chapter 8: “I am sure that neither death nor life, nor rulers, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
Jesus is God. He loves you. He’s for you. He is praying for you, and He and the Father are still working with you to reveal God’s glory on earth. You are sons and daughters of the King, HUGELY loved and held securely in the palm of His hand. You can trust Him. When you get hold of this for yourself, you will never need another person to pray for you again, because you know God Himself is praying for you! Knowing these truths about Jesus is what’s going carry you through thick and thin in your life.
If you’ve never accepted Christ’s love for yourself, please pray this prayer today:
Father, thank you for sending Jesus, Your own Son, so that I could know You better. I believe Jesus took care of every requirement of the law and became a sacrifice for my sins so that I could be free from the penalty of death. I receive Your gift of love for me, and believe I will live eternally in heaven with You. Help me to trust You as My great and compassionate High Priest, convinced forever of Your love! Amen.
© Deborah Perkins / www.HisInscriptions.com
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.