#1 = Jesus

Jesus is the image of the invisible God. He is the exact representation of the Father’s being. All things were made through him, by him and for him. He is above all things, and in him all things hold together. But he is not distant or superior in his attitude toward us. He chose to be born to peasants in a country that was under the rule of Rome in a time of great hardship and uncertainty. He lived a life that was above reproach, setting an example for all not only in purity and holiness, but also in love and compassion. He yielded to the Father in all he did. After about 30 years in obscurity, at the right time, he was immersed in the Jordan river by his cousin John, a great prophet. This immersion, or baptism, was an outward sign of a person’s decision to leave behind his former life in order to live a life committed to God-to love, serve and obey him. At that time the Spirit of God came upon Jesus and remained on him. He went forth in power, healing the sick, casting out devils, cleansing lepers, opening the eyes of the blind, raising the dead, and proclaiming the presence of the kingdom of God!

The kingdom of God is anywhere that God rules, not only in the top-level way of his sovereignty, but in an immediate and visible way. Just as Jesus taught his followers to pray, Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored and revered above all others, Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven, so Jesus’ announcement that the kingdom of God had arrived meant that the conditions, values and opportunities that exist in heaven are now available on earth! There is no sickness in heaven, so there need not be sickness on earth. Likewise with blindness, death and oppression of the devil. God is humble, kind and good, and possesses all power and understanding. So, those who follow, love and serve him are humble, kind, good and have power and wisdom.

Jesus proclaimed and demonstrated this kingdom to the point that it threatened the position of authority held by the religious leaders of his day, and they killed him. But this was not in fact a subversion of his plan but its fulfillment, as he said, “Noone takes my life from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” In this act of ultimate love and submission to his Father, Jesus became the culmination of centuries of Jewish blood sacrifice and simultaneously fulfilled dozens if not hundreds of prophecies in the Jewish scriptures. His death paid the complete cost and penalty for every sin committed by every person in history. The only requirement is that we look to him and trust him as a humble child. But we do not look to a dead savior, because on the 3rd day, by the power of the Spirit of God, Jesus rose from the dead to become the first of a new type of humanity—those who will never die or get sick or grow old, who can pass freely between earth and heaven, and who have open access to the eternal God. Then Jesus took his rightful place—his not only from creation, but now also because he earned it through his life and his death—seated at the right hand of God the Father, with him on his throne, over all things not only in heaven but also on the earth and under the earth.

The king of all creation is the most humble, gentle, good and kind man that ever lived, and we have the opportunity to join him in his place of honor and privilege for all eternity. He asks of us what he asked the 12 men who accompanied him during his time of outreach on earth: Follow me. Leave everything behind, deny yourself, take up the means of your own death, your cross, and follow me. The calling is impossible, but he makes it possible by giving us the same power that he had: his Spirit. Belief in Jesus is the only route to life. Absolute, radical, self-sacrificing obedience to him is the only route to the high calling of joining him in a place of intimacy and authority for all eternity. There is nothing else worth living for.