This will be the theme of the new sermon series Pastor Connie and I will be preaching, starting this Sunday. At Christmas time, we celebrate the beginning of Jesus’ life, and we are reminded each year of the facts about that great event, his virgin birth, the star, the angels, the journey to Bethlehem, the cradle in a stable. Then every spring we spend time during Lent, Good Friday and Easter thinking about the end of his time on earth, with special attention to his death on the cross and his resurrection three days later. The average Christian’s knowledge of his brief, meteoric three-year ministry leading up to his death is pretty sparse. We know he did some healing and other miracles, and he preached and taught some striking new ideas about God, but we’re not sure of the timetable or of the various groups he spoke to in different times and places. We’re even more ignorant of the so-called “silent years” between his early childhood and his emergence as a public figure.

We’d like to help make Jesus come alive to you through these sermons. This is a big challenge for us, because we don’t want to treat such an important subject in a trivial way. We’re both already beginning to do some background research which is taking us back to our seminary days. Please pray that we will have some special inspiration and insight.

Our church’s Affirmation of Faith includes the following statement about Jesus:

We believe in Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, conceived by the Holy Spirit. We believe in his virgin birth, sinless life, miracles and teachings. We believe in his substitutionary atoning death, bodily resurrection, ascension into heaven, perpetual intercession for his people and personal visible return to earth.

Those of you who have read or studied about the first few centuries of church history will know that virtually every phrase in this statement was fought over by the great thinkers of those formative years. It’s not that the Bible is unclear about Jesus’ life and teachings; it’s just that the Gospel writer’s portrayal of him is so unique and surprising. Normal categories used to describe humans do not fully embrace the truth about Jesus.

Those Gospel writers who tried to capture him through their personal memories did not shrink from expressing the seemingly inexplicable facets of his personal influence and his teachings. Rather than trying to harmonize all the divine and human aspects of his life on earth, they left it to us to shape our own picture of who he is. Maybe it will be a good exercise for each of us to approach this series of sermons as if we were meeting Jesus for the first time. God may give us some personal intuitive response to him that will change our lives.

— Pastor George Van Alstine