It is a quiet morning at my Mom’s house. My brother-in-law stayed the night and left for the day at 7:30. Mom was up about 6:30 but by 8 she was lying on the couch, asleep. So here I am, with my Bible, some coffee and my computer. If you haven’t read my blog before, or recently, here is the most recent installment of the story about my mom.
This morning I read Acts 17 and 18. In my Bible the book is titled The Acts of the Apostles, which it rightly is, but I tend to think of it more often as The Acts of the Holy Spirit, because the presence of the Spirit permeates everything that takes place in the book.
These two chapters are rich in describing the activity of the Holy Spirit as Paul and his companions travel through Greece. One of the verses that jumped out at me this morning was Acts 17:3. Paul had spent three Sabbaths at the synagogue, using the scriptures of the Old Testament as he taught about Jesus. The verse concludes with Paul saying,
“This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ.”
Just yesterday I saw a news story where a prominent public person stated that Christianity was not a religion, but a philosophy. He made this claim, clearly and deliberately, at least twice in the interview segment that I saw so there can hardly be the chance that he misspoke or was misquoted. And it seems a bit ironic that I read Acts 17 this morning, because verses 16-34 describe Paul’s visit to Athens, where his teaching was given publicly to the leading philosophers of the day, many of whom received it as just one interesting idea among many.
But Paul brought all of the teaching regarding Jesus together with one definitive claim, one that we still need to be mindful of again and again. “This Jesus…is the Christ.”
Jesus is not just a good teacher, someone who tossed some new twists on the best ways to live in the world, reminding us that we should all work to get along with each other, at home and throughout the world.
Jesus is not a philosopher presenting another system for us to understand the world and our place in it, such as the Stoics and Epicureans of Paul’s day or the Existentialists of a more recent time.
Jesus is the Christ. He is the long-awaited Messiah of the Jews. The One anointed by God. The promised and expected Deliverer of God’s people.
Jesus doesn’t come to just teach us about God but to do the one thing that we most certainly can’t do, which is to bridge the gap between a fallen humanity and a holy God.
I am thankful this morning that “This Jesus…is the Christ” and that I can pray to God knowing that amidst the brokenness in which I continue to live that I am also held closely by God’s Anointed. And my prayer of thanks to Him includes the request that He holds you too.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.