Picture on the jigsaw
We may have fought against it in the past, or perhaps are still doing so, but apart from JESUS, there is no other way and no other name! It might make us squirm; we might dislike the theology intensely “but what about…..”; it might challenge our desire to be independent and go our own way, shape our own gospel; it might ruffle our feathers big time (do you sense a bit of personal testimony here?) – or when all the kicking and screaming has died down, it just might fill us with the kind of peace and security for which we have longed!
In Jn.14:6, Jesus told us that there is no other route to get to Father God, outside of him – “I myself am the road, no one approaches the Father except through me.” He is not just one way among many, he is the way. (Teresa of Avila, 1515-1582, called it the Royal Road to Heaven – puts me in mind of a line of the song “Majesty” that goes “In royal robes we don’t deserve…” Interesting that in the early church, Christianity was sometimes called “the Way” (Acts 9:2; 19:9, 23) Hebrews 10:19-20 tells us we can now have the courage, without hesitation, to walk right up to holy, awesome, almighty God, into “the Holy Place.” Jesus has actually cleared the way to God by the blood of his sacrifice, acting as our Priest. The “curtain” into God’s presence, which was torn in two at the moment of his death on the cross is Jesus’ body. Wow! Jesus, amazingly, was both perfect priest and perfect unblemished sacrificial lamb. 1 Tim.2:5 speaks of “only one mediator between God and us – Jesus” The Message calls Him the Priest-Mediator.
In Acts 4:12 we are told that no other name has been or will be given to us by which we can be saved, only the name of Jesus – that salvation comes no other way and is found in no one else. When the angel appeared to Joseph in a dream, telling him not to hesitate to get married to Mary, as her pregnancy was Spirit-conceived, and that God’s Holy Spirit had made her pregnant, he was then instructed to name the baby, when he arrived, Jesus – “God saves” or “Saviour”, because he would save his people from their sins. (Matt.1:21) The name Jesus is a Greek form of the Hebrew Joshua, “the LORD saves”. Biblically, in ancient times, an individual’s name prophetically summed up his whole person and character. Early in John’s gospel (Ch.2:23), shortly after the stunning miracle at the wedding at Cana, we find Jesus in Jerusalem at the time of that year’s Passover Feast, and that “many believed in his NAME when they saw the signs that he was doing.” He had been aptly named – his name was important and significant in revealing his nature!
I was thinking last week about the things Jesus said about he and the Father being one, and one and the same, and if we knew him, then we also knew the Father. Many of us find it easier to relate with Jesus, don’t we – somehow he seems more approachable, more knowable than Father God! We were praying with someone last week who said “I can ‘see’ Jesus, but I just don’t get the Father”. Perhaps Jesus is a bit like the picture on the jigsaw box – a real, technicolour image of the incomprehensible and somewhat daunting pile of jumbled pieces inside, which all look much the same confusing colour and puzzling shape; but with the help of the picture we can slowly make sense and slot pieces into place. As we get to know Jesus more and more, slowly our picture of the Father takes on familiar shape and texture, because Jesus is the absolute image of his Dad!
And as a little postscript – if, as victorious overcomers newly arrived in heaven, we are given, “a clear, smooth stone inscribed with your new name, your secret new name.” (Rev.2:17), will this new name describe and designate our ‘changed in a twinkling’ new characters? How exciting is that!