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Words of Life

Looking Unto Jesus

By Leonard Sweet & Frank Viola September 12, 2010 Words of Life

Let’s go back to the first century and take another look at our Lord. “Come and behold Him.” We bless and are blessed as we simply “behold Him,” not as we boast of talents or do great things, but as “we look full in His wonderful face.” Everyday “beholding” releases Jesus, especially when that beholding is done by a community.

Watch Him at a wedding in Cana. According to the custom of that day, the bridegroom was responsible for supplying the food and wine. You know the story. The wine ran out. This represented a social disgrace – a grave oversight on the part of the bridegroom.

Behold your Lord’s first miracle. He turns water into wine – but no ordinary wine. He creates a wine that is finer than the wine that had run out. In one brilliant stroke, Jesus Christ removes the bridegroom’s shame. He supplies the lack. He covers the mistake. He removes the disgrace. He reverses the failure. And He makes the bridegroom look like a champion.

What a Christ.

Watch Him as He encounters a battered, abused, shamed, and forgotten woman. She’s a Samaritan of ill repute – a five-time divorcée. Your Lord breaks all social conventions by talking to her in public. But that’s not all. He shares with her one of the greatest truths that a human being can know. In addition, He breaks Jewish custom by using her utensils and eating with her friends in a Samaritan village (something Jews were forbidden to do). Here is a Lord who embraces a dejected woman and woos her and her friends to Himself.

What a Christ.

Watch Him as He allows a prostitute to love Him in the house of a Pharisee. She pours expensive perfume on His feet, unbinds her hair and uses it as a towel to anoint his feet. Such an act is scandalous (for a woman to unbind her hair in that day was akin to publically removing her bra in our day). The Pharisees move into high-octane-judgment mode toward Jesus and the woman. And what does the Lord do? He accepts this woman’s extravagant act of love and adoration and rebukes the finger-pointing Pharisee for his self-righteousness, saying, “Her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little.” To the woman He said, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.”1

What a Christ.

Watch Him as He sits before a woman caught in the act of adultery. See her with bleeding cuts on her body, dragged like a rag doll before a hungry mob of judgmental men, waiting for the first stone to crush her head and bring her to a death that she justly deserves. Behold your glorious Lord. He asks one question, a question that pierces the heart of every man who is ready to send this woman to her grave. Mesmerized by the Lord’s words, each man drops his stone and walks away. Christ’s parting words to the guilty woman? “Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more.”2

What a Christ.

As we read the Gospel accounts, we cannot help but be awestruck by the wonderful person they present. Yet the startling reality is that this same Radiance that we marvel at in the pages of our New Testaments has come to continue His life in and through us.

Genuine Christianity is learning to live by an indwelling Christ. Consequently, the Christian life should be reframed as God’s life come to earth and displayed visibly through human beings. The Christian life is the outflow of “Christ in you,” the breaking forth of God’s uncreated, indwelling life – the radiating of God’s own energy in fallen, human vessels.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not us.3

Seeing Christianity from this perspective changes everything.


Excerpted from Jesus Manifesto by Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola, © 2010 Leonard Sweet and Frank Viola (Thomas Nelson).

1 Luke 7:47,50
2 John 8:11
3 2 Cor. 4:7

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