Whom do you resemble – mother, father, famous person, the dog? Are your features, your expressions, your mannerisms, your walk, your sense of humour so much like that person (okay, not the dog!) that others immediately notice the similarities? Thats what the call to Jesus involves: looking and sounding and acting like the One who has called us to Himself.
The kind of speech that betrayed Peter just before he betrayed Jesus should clearly declare the person with whom we have been as well. ‘Jehovah is salvation’ – that is the meaning of the name ‘Jesus’; a transliteration of the Hebrew name ‘Joshua” (An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words, W.E.Vine). In incarnation, that is the name God gave His Son because that describes exactly why God was manifested in the flesh. No Jesus, no salvation – not only for Israel, but also for us! Without salvation through faith in Jesus, life is a few short years of vanity followed by an eternity of calamity. Not only so, but the life we now live in the flesh, good though it might be for many, cannot be experienced at its best. But Jesus came to show what the unsearchable God is like in terms humans can search out (John 1:18) so that we believe on Him and look and act like Him (Rom 8:29; Col 3:10).
He has done His part perfectly and completely. We have been saved to the uttermost; that cannot get any better! So now what? Jesus said to His disciples: ‘ but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses ‘even to the remotest part of the earth’ (Acts 1:8). Like it or not, we are His witnesses. Being a witness does not depend on whether or not we open our mouths and declare what we have witnessed. We are witnesses de facto because we are saved. But what are we doing about our commitment to accurately and enthusiastically declare who and what we have witnessed? If we have truly seen Jesus, Jehovah our Saviour, hanging on a cross, bearing our sins in His own body; if we have truly accepted Him as Lord and Saviour; if we have truly appreciated His awesome substitutionary sacrifice for us, then in loving appreciation we will speak about what we know. And His Spirit, the Spirit of Christ, ignites the dynamic power within us to do what God wants us to do for Him.
Have you pledged your allegiance to Jesus? Implicitly, we have pledged allegiance to our country and its flag and political leader. By comparison, wonderful though those might be, they are nothing compared with the One who has purchased our pardon. At salvation, pledging allegiance to Him is what you were doing! As you were immersed in water when you were baptized, that is what you were doing! If you have missed one of those experiences, you know where to start. But have you given yourself fully to Him today? Being called to Jesus is not a religious, Sunday activity. He is not simply your focus on Sunday and a haze from Monday to Saturday. He is your life, your breath, your strength, your all. He demands no less; you can give Him no more. Too often we hear well-meaning teachers tell us that Jesus must be first in our lives. But thats not right! He must be our lives! He is not a priority. He is the fulcrum in our lives upon which all our priorities must hinge. No wonder Paul stated: ‘For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain’ (Phil. 1:21) and ‘that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death’ (3:10). No wonder Peter could exhort ‘but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ’ (2 Pet. 3:18). This is what is involved in our call to Jesus. He’-s anticipating not just a delightful meeting in the air when He comes. He is excitedly awaiting our meeting with Him today – in His word, in conversation, in listening and communion, in meditation, in obedience, in choosing Him to follow today. Have you been in touch with Him?
The Holy Spirit infuses us with power at salvation. He did the same for the early disciples in Jerusalem. The fear and consternation in evidence in the locked upper room on the Sunday of His resurrection showed the weakness of men whose lives had been shattered by the death of the One they thought was their Saviour. The tears of Mary in the garden reveal the brokenness of her heart, and her words to the angels her confusion and sorrow: ‘ they have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid Him’ (John 20:13). Her grief caused her not to recognize Him when He stood before her. The two on the way to Emmaus had had such high hopes that this Jesus was the One who would redeem Israel. But those hopes had been dashed at His death – or so they thought until they recognized Him.
What a difference seeing Jesus in resurrection made to them! What a difference it can make to us as well! Yes, He died and was buried. Praise God for that. But He is alive! The One who calls us to Himself to imitate His character is not simply a historical figure to be known by literary scholarship. He is a living Saviour who communicates with us through the living Word so that, in devotion to Him, we may actually know Him, not just know about Him. The locked doors on Sunday in Jerusalem were wide open on Monday! The plaintiff cry of Mary to the angels became the ecstatic shout, Rabboni! to the Saviour. The dashed hopes of the two travellers became delightful hallelujahs as their eyes were opened to recognize Him. And what did they do with their new-found exuberance? They told other people about the One whose resurrection had completely thrilled them! And they did not even have the Holy Spirit indwelling them yet for almost another two months! We have Him resident within us. If we find it difficult to speak about the One to whom we have pledged our allegiance, perhaps we need to witness again His misery, His mercy and His majesty. When we marvel at His magnificence, well speak of Him in superlatives to others.
‘Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be’ (1 John 3:2). Do we look, speak and act like Gods children? Its going to get better in immeasurable and incomprehensible ways! ‘We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is’. How big a change is going to take place in you and me? Is there a hint now in our character and conduct of the wonder of that transformation to come? There should be! ‘And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure’ (v.3). Whose we are determines what we should be. For we have been called to a relationship, not a religion. We have been called to a person, ‘the only begotten God who is in the bosom of the Father’ (John 1:18). And that person is Jesus who came to show us God: ‘He has explained Him’. Because He has explained Him, shown Him to us so vividly in His life, we can explain Him to others in how we live and in what we say.
If your tongue is not like angels,
If you cannot preach like Paul,
You can tell the Saviour’s goodness,
You can say He died for all.
If you cannot rouse the wicked
With the judgment’s dread alarms,
You can lead the little children
To the Saviour’s waiting arms.
(Dr. D. March)
But we’ll only do it in the power of the Holy Spirit when our lives and words are consistent with and passionate about the One to whom we have pledged our allegiance. Whom do you resemble today? You’ve been called to Jesus. Can others tell?
Bible quotations from NASB