And Thomas answered and said unto him, My LORD and my God (John 20:28)
I've just finished reading through the gospels again. I love reading about the life of Christ! He did so many amazing and wonderful things. Without a doubt, the account of the woman taken in adultery in John 8 remains one of my favourite passages. Here we see Christ's love, forgiveness, justice, compassion, and so many other great lessons are taught. I also like all the stories of the miracles Jesus did. Especially Mark 2 where the lame man is let down through the roof and Jesus forgives him and heals him!
Every time I read through this section of Scripture God teaches me so many wonderful things, and many passages take on more meaning and significance. There's always something different that stands out to me. No matter how many times I read the gospels, I always find something new. Of course, it's not really something new, it was there all along. It's just that it takes on a new meaning or significance in my Christian walk. It's fresh. God's Word is living. One could read it a thousand times, and still learn from it!!!
One thing that really struck me this time was my perception of who Jesus really is. I mean who is He??? Is He a man? Is He God? Is He both? Of course we know He is both divine and human at the same time. He is one with the Father. He is sinless and perfect. But, I'm not talking about that aspect of who Jesus is. These are things already deep within my heart that I believe with absolute certainty. I'm talking about who Jesus is on a more personal level. What was He like? How did He talk? What was His character like? Was He funny, calm, outgoing, introverted, loud, quiet, kind, nice, gentle, strong, firm, intelligent, simple? The list could go on. No one alive today ever met Jesus when He was walking on the earth, and yet through the Scriptures we can acquire that intimate knowledge of who He is.
I would say the "popular" perception of Jesus is that He is love. Many have an idea or a picture in their head of someone gentle, meek, like a Lamb, smiling, kind, and compassionate. He was soft spoken and tender. Maybe they even see Him as being a bit weak or timid. I've heard Jesus described in a way that made Him sound sad, tired, and depressed. Did Jesus experience these types of emotions? I believe He did (Heb. 4:15) in a perfect and sinless way. I also believe He was much more than just a quiet, loving man.
What we don't often hear Jesus pictured as is bold, firm, confident, dogmatic, holy, and just. Was Jesus these things? YES, because God the Father is also holy and just. I believe Jesus was dogmatic. He preached truth and He did not waver. He was perfect, and thus, His truth was perfect. What's not to be dogmatic about? Was Jesus bold? He did call the Pharisees a generation of vipers on more than one occasion (Matt 3, 12, 23). He preached strongly about hell (Matt 23:33). He condemned hypocrisy. He judged righteously and admonished His followers to do the same (John 7:24).
Christ was not just one or the other. He is not just love. He is not just holy. He is not just compassion. He is not just righteousness. He is ALL. He loved the woman taken in adultery and showed compassion on her, but He was also just. The woman was repentant, and He forgave. If she had not repented, He would not have forgiven, and the end of the story would have been much different. Jesus spoke harshly to the religious leaders, but He did not forget to love them when doing so. I believe His heart broke over the way the Pharisees and Saducees rejected Him. If only they would have repented, He would have forgiven them too. Did His lack of forgiveness mean He wasn't compassionate to the Pharisees? Absolutely not! Christ does not force anyone to accept Him. The Pharisees made their decision just as the woman taken in adultery did. Christ's character did not change, but two different decisions had two different outcomes. He shed many tears over the way Jerusalem rejected the prophets, but He still judged them. I don't even think we can fathom the love and compassion Christ felt for those He spoke against in such strong, and even offensive terms! Was He angry when He threw the money changers out of the temple? Undoubtedly!! They had defiled His Father's house! How awful and wicked. He threw them out, and yet He still loved.
Thomas saw Jesus for who He really is when he exclaimed my LORD and my God. Jesus is ALL. He is every attribute of God. He is LORD, Sovereign, Master. He is God, Father, holy, just, and righteous. He is Christ, Messiah, Saviour. He is love, forgiveness, compassion. He does not forget His love when He is just. He does not forget His holiness when He is love. Our call as Christians is to be like Christ (Rom 8:29), but I fear many of us do not know what Christ was really like. I am still learning this! It's hard for us to be so many things at once. At least it was for me. I get focused on one attribute. Okay, I'm going to show compassion. But in my compassion, I forget to be holy. So, now I'm going to be holy. But in my desire to be holy, I forget to show love. The gospels give us a complete picture of the Lord Jesus. His actions, His attitudes, and His characteristics. We (I) can be like Christ if we (I) study Him.