quote: Jesus as our Savior


“This is the way, dear friends, in which we found our salvation, namely Jesus Christ, the high priest of our offerings, the benefactor and helper of our weakness.

“Through him we look steadily into the heights of heaven; through him we see as in a mirror his faultless and transcendent face; through him the eyes of our hearts have been opened; through him our foolish and darkened mind springs up into the light; through him the Master has willed that we should taste immortal knowledge, for he, being the radiance of his majesty, is as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent.”

1 Clement 36.1-2 [penned about 90 A.D.], as rendered by Michael W. Holmes, The Apostolic Fathers: Greek Texts and English Translations, p. 93

But a Muslim …


If anything, the Lord Jesus Christ – the way, the truth, and the life – was, and is …

Candid and clear. Good and gusty. Life-giving and loving. Open and outspoken. Real and relevant.

And so, if Jesus told us Christians here in southeast Texas one of our favorite Bible stories today – and I do mean right here and right now – it would not at all surprise me if he worded it this way …

A southeast Texas Christian stood up to test this one who called himself Jesus. “Teacher,” he said, “what must I do to be right with the Good Lord?”

Jesus replied, “What does it say in the Old Testament? How do you interpret it?”

He responded, “You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your being, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself.”

Jesus said to him, “You have answered correctly. Do this and you’ll have life with God.”

But the southeast Texas Christian had an agenda and wanted to prove that he was right, so he said to Jesus, “And who is it exactly that is my neighbor?”

Jesus replied, “A man went down from new Mont Belvieu to the state streets in old Baytown. Along the way he got car-jacked. The crooks made him strip naked, beat him nearly to death, and then left him in shock beside the curb.

Now it just so happened that a church elder was also traveling that way just a minute after the man’s attackers had fled. He saw the injured man, but not wanting to get involved and fearing the attackers were still close-by, sped on, pretending not to notice. Likewise, a moment later, a Christian preacher drove by the man. He too saw the bleeding man, but he didn’t stop either due to the same fears. But a Muslim who was also going down that same street saw the man, was moved with compassion for him, immediately stopped his car and ran over to him. The Muslim bandaged the wounded man’s injuries with what he had on hand, placed the injured man in his own car, took him to the nearest hospital ER, and made sure he was cared for there. The next day, the Muslim went to the hospital’s billing department and gave them two full days’ worth of wages. As he did so he told the people in the billing department, ‘Take care of that man and know that I’m good for backing up whatever he gets billed.’ Now what do you think? Which one of these three was a neighbor to the man who encountered the assailants?”

Then the southeast Texas Christian said, “The one who showed the man mercy, giving him aid.”

Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”

May we not compartmentalize any part of our heart or mind, allowing anger, assumption, condemnation, gossip, hate, insinuation, judging, lies, prejudice, presumption, pride, slander, resentment, and/or suspicion to live and rule there.

May we never forget the scandal and offensiveness of the cross, the heart of the gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

May those of us who claim to know it best apply it to ourselves before we think of sharing it with others.

May we not blindly, unthinkingly imitate the ways of the world.

And may we ever love everyone Jesus does. No exceptions.

why Jesus? (1)


Why-Jesus-WillimonTomorrow marks the start of the fall Bible class quarter for adults at MoSt Church. This quarter is a “Christ quarter,” meaning we’ll spend at least two the quarter’s three months focused on some aspect of Jesus Christ.

Scripture, of course, will be our source of information as we consider the Christ, but in the class I lead (20/20) we’ll use William Willimon’s excellent book entitled Why Jesus? as an outline.

Since about the only thing significant missing from Willimon’s study is a set of discussion questions for each chapter, as I can I’ll reproduce a class intro and discussion questions here each Saturday during the course of our class journey. The following is for chapter one (which is entitled “Vagabond”).


The question through the ages has been “What is God like?” The four Gospels seem to say that God has answered that question thus: “Hear, watch, imitate, and serve my wandering Son, Jesus, and you’ll know.”

We can use the word “wandering” because the four Gospels read not unlike something of a travel log or the journal of a road trip. They speak to us of a Jesus who was/is ever on the move.

Jesus bursts on the scene in Matthew’s Gospel as a traveling king, the roads he travels having been recently leveled and smoothed for his journey by his forerunner, John (Matt. 3.1-17).

In Mark’s Gospel, Jesus comes out of nowhere. He hits the ground running. He is ever and always a man of action (cf. the word “immediately” appears 42x in Mark).

One long journey by Jesus to Jerusalem compromises the bulk of Luke’s Gospel (Luke 9.51-19.44) and it’s a journey studded not so much with definitions, explanations, and arguments of God and his way, but with stories of life along the way with Jesus.

And in John’s Gospel he shows up as another world’s “Word” that enters our world and moves from place to place leaving signs and speech along the way of a totally different perspective of what constitutes real living.

Similarly, the four Gospels portray Jesus as constantly seeking to move his followers away from their comfort zones and status quo, and onward in a journey with him toward “the kingdom of God.” No one is exempt from his urging onward: men and women, the powerful and the vulnerable, young and old, rich and poor, Jew and Gentile, believing or not. From his birth to his death to his resurrection and beyond, his message remains the same: “Seek me and follow me, walking in my steps.”

And so, what are we to make of all of this? Let’s think and talk about it together.


1. Are you a homebody or would you rather “never sit still?” Do you prefer change or sameness? Why?

2. The world has its understanding as to what makes for “the most interesting man in the world.” As a Christian, make the case for Jesus being the most interesting man in the world.

3. As a group, brainstorm examples of how exactly in the Gospels Jesus is depicted as being “on the move.”

4. What evidence would you lay on the table that Jesus seeks to take seekers out of their comfort zone?

5. Why is it important for us to see Jesus as a man on a mission and on the move, without a home of his own and dependent on the financial support of others?

6. Jesus is “the way” (Jn. 14.6). The church is “The Way” (Acts 9.2). What does this mean … and not mean?

7. Engage the following statement: “The Bible introduces us to a living, speaking, moving Person, not to the final and fixed word on everything. … Vagabond Jesus won’t be held down by me in his determination to move freely toward you.” Is this true, false, or “it depends”?

8. Is God too big to know? In Jesus, God becomes very specific. Does this comfort or disturb you? Explain.

9. How is it that one might say “Jesus is a curious thing to say about God”?

10. In your journey with Jesus, what have you frequently felt: joy or fear? Why?

11. “Jesus tends to come to people where they are but rarely leaves them as they were. Conversion of thought and life, a whole new world, is part of the adventure of being loved by Jesus, of being invited to be his traveling companion. … That’s bad news for those who are complacent with the world as it is; good news for those who think that they may have been created for more …” What are your thoughts on this?

12. Why do we humans tend to be so resistant to God’s motion, movement, change, and correction?

13. Elaborate on this statement, imagining you’ve just said this to Jesus himself: “Here, let me thank you that, through the church, you have introduced me to lots of folks for whom the world has not been as comfortable, good, and seductive as the world has been to me and my family, adamant that I take responsibility for them and their needs, referring to these strangers as ‘brother’ and ‘sister.’”

14. Tell us of something Jesus has moved you away from since you started walking with him.

30 days with the Human One (12)


The Human One’s announcement that he will die just as all humans die proved too much for his disciples to comprehend. In Luke’s Gospel, three times Jesus is recorded as predicting his death and three times the disciples simply cannot conceive of such happening to the Human One. Two of the accounts come close to the start of Jesus’ long journey to Jerusalem (Luke 9:51-19:27). The first prediction is worded like this:

He said, “The Human One must suffer many things and be rejected—by the elders, chief priests, and the legal experts—and be killed and be raised on the third day.” (Luke 9:22 CEB)

Not a single word of response is recorded as coming from the disciples.

Then there is the Human One’s second prediction.

While everyone was marveling at everything he was doing, Jesus said to his disciples, “Take these words to heart: the Human One is about to be delivered into human hands.” (Luke 9:43b-44 CEB)

As to the disciple’s reaction, this time we’re told they remained silent and exactly why they were silent.

They didn’t understand this statement. Its meaning was hidden from them so they couldn’t grasp it. And they were afraid to ask him about it. (Luke 9:44-45 CEB)

The Human One’s third prediction comes close to the end of his journey to Jerusalem.

Jesus took the Twelve aside and said, “Look, we’re going up to Jerusalem, and everything written about the Human One by the prophets will be accomplished. He will be handed over to the Gentiles. He will be ridiculed, mistreated, and spit on. After torturing him, they will kill him. On the third day, he will rise up.” (Luke 18:31-33 CEB)

And once again we’re told that the disciples were clueless.

But the Twelve understood none of these words. The meaning of this message was hidden from them and they didn’t grasp what he was saying. (Luke 18:34 CEB)

The Human One, the one born to deliver many, was also born to die.

We should pray.

Father in heaven, in the name of Jesus I thank you for delivering me from the fear of death. Knowing the Human One precedes me there and trusting his victory over the grave, I now have confidence that you will see me through the same. As you overcome death through him, overcome my life so that my life becomes pure praise to you. Your ways are clearly not my ways and your way of thinking is so very far beyond mine. Where there is cluelessness in me, let there be faith. Amen.

Question: when do you find faith most challenged to well up within you, when you contemplate your life or your death?