The narratives of the four gospels reveal to us many things, not only about Jesus Christ, but also about the people that encounter Jesus and encounter the gospel during its infancy in the early first century. Here in these stories we see people from every strata of mankind and from every circumstance. Kings and slaves, rich people and beggars, the prominent and the unknown, the strictly religious and the evidently wicked and many more pass before our eyes and allow us to identify with real humans who met the living Lord Jesus during His first advent. But as interesting as these other people are, there is One person who holds center stage wherever He is and whenever He is present. Jesus dominates every scene simply by His divine presence. All the other characters are mere mortals attempting to make some small impact on this world, but Jesus is the obvious King, the One who controls the action and who dictates the outcomes. Here is the central figure in all of human history interacting with men and women like us, and we get to listen in and hear what He said and how they responded.
This article intends to pose the question, “Has my life been radically altered by Jesus Christ?”
One of the many studies of Jesus in the Bible is to see how other people were affected by Him. What we find as we explore the Jesus of the New Testament is that, when people met Jesus, their lives were radically impacted.
The apostle Peter met Jesus and was immediately overwhelmed by his own sin such that he begged Jesus to leave (Luke 5:8). His life was forever changed, and he followed Jesus until he was crucified upside down as a martyr.
Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well (John 4), told her about her sin and revealed to her that He was the promised Messiah. She became an instant evangelist and told her entire town of the mysterious Man who knew her darkest secrets.
The demoniac was screaming naked among the tombs and cutting himself on stones, breaking chains and terrorizing the region with his raving (Luke 8:26ff). Jesus sails through a ferocious storm (that He stills with a word) and crosses the Sea of Galilee to meet this one man and to free him from his legion of demons. The man is changed from a raving maniac to a man who is “clothed, in his right mind, and sitting at the feet of Jesus.” From maniac to evangelist, he obeys Jesus and proclaims Jesus to all the people in his hometown and beyond.
Zacchaeus is a cheating tax collector who is hated by his fellow Jews because he sides with the Roman government. He hears about Jesus and does everything he can to meet Him (Luke 19). Jesus calls him by name and goes to his house to eat. Zacchaeus vows to repay all the people he has cheated and declares his desire to do right. One encounter with Jesus radically changes his life.
A sinful woman, probably a prostitute, comes to Jesus when He is at the house of a Pharisee named Simon (Luke 7) and begins to wash Jesus’ feet with her tears and wipe His feet with her hair. Jesus honors this act of worship and forgives her of her sins. She leaves a changed woman.
At one point in His journey toward Jerusalem, Jesus’ disciples notice a man blind from birth and ask Jesus about him (John 9). Jesus spontaneously gives the man sight, thus changing the man’s life. But more than that, Jesus also revealed Himself to the man as the promised Messiah (Son of Man) and thus allowed the man to become one of His worshipers.
The apostle Paul was a blasphemer and a persecutor and a violent aggressor as he sought to stamp out Christianity from Israel. He was imprisoning Christians and even having Christians put to death, until he met the risen Lord Jesus on the Damascus road (Acts 9). In an instant Paul is struck down and blinded by the glory of the Lord, and, after a few days of blindness, he regains his sight as a converted man. He immediately becomes a spokesman for the Lord Jesus and a proclaimer of the gospel of salvation and spends the rest of his life until his martyr’s death as a servant of Christ.
James and John, and Peter and Andrew leave their nets and their fathers and their fishing businesses and follow Jesus. Matthew leaves his tax office and follows Jesus. The centurion confesses Jesus as Lord and has his servant healed with a word from Jesus. Jesus casts seven demons from Mary Magdalene and changes her life. Lazarus is raised from the dead (John 11) after being in the tomb for four days. (Talk about changing your life! Jesus actually changed his death!) The widow of Nain saw her dead son raised to life when Jesus spoke a word (Luke 7). Jairus had his life changed when his dead daughter was raised to life and walked around the room. All these encountered the living Son of God and had their lives radically changed, because Jesus does that. Those who encounter Jesus and respond to Him have their lives radically changed.
There were, however, people who met the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and who remained completely unchanged. The Pharisees and the scribes and chief priests encountered Jesus on numerous occasions and yet never acknowledged Him for who He was. Thus, they remained unchanged and died in their sins. Pontius Pilate had the chance to have a face to face conversation with Jesus the night He was betrayed and yet Pilate never acknowledged Jesus as the King to be worshiped. He was unchanged. The so-called rich, young ruler (Luke 18) heard from Jesus exactly how to obtain eternal life and yet he loved his money and could not follow Jesus. He left Jesus exactly as he had come to Him, having money but not having eternal life. Herod talked to Jesus, looking for entertainment. When Herod found out that Jesus would not play his games, he got bored and sent Him away. Herod was unchanged, so Herod perished.
APPLICATION: It is the same today as it was during Jesus’ earthly life. Those who have encountered Jesus Christ savingly have had their lives radically changed. If your life has not been changed by Jesus, there is a good possibility that you are not saved. Jesus radically changes lives. If you are a new creation in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17), it will be obvious.
Question: Is there anything in your life that cannot be explained apart from your commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ? If your answer on this question is shaky or vague, please take a careful look at your spiritual condition.
There are many who encounter Jesus or who hear about Jesus and think that counts for becoming a follower of Jesus. They have an arm’s length association with Jesus, but they have never cried out to Him with unrestrained zeal and asked Him to save them. Theirs is a reserved salvation, somewhat sedate and controlled, but Jesus does not desire “sedate.” He requires an unreserved passion.
Jesus is the Son of God, the King of kings and Lord of lords, and when He comes into your life, He takes over. He cleans house and He calls you to follow Him wherever He leads with no conditions and no reservations. Make sure that is the kind of encounter that you have had with Jesus Christ.
SDG rmb 10/2/2019