Tuesday, October 3, 2017
I Want to Know Christ
By Colleen Podmore
In the book of Acts, we read how the Lord gave His Apostles the task of testifying to His resurrection as eye witnesses.
Matthew’s gospel proclaims his resurrection (Matt 28:7, he has risen from the dead’)
Mark, a disciple of the apostle Peter writes, ‘Don’t be alarmed..He has risen’ (Mark 16:6)
Luke the doctor who associated with the Apostles but was not an Apostle also testifies, (Luke 24:7)
John also proclaims the resurrection (John 20:9)
Luke confirms it again in the letter he wrote called Acts. He says in Acts 1:3, ‘many convincing proofs that he was alive…’
Acts 1:22 states why the remaining 11 apostles thought they should replace Judas, who betrayed Jesus.
They say, ‘For one of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection’.
Peter testifies in Acts 2:32, ‘God has raised this Jesus to life, and we are all witnesses of the fact.’
And again in Acts 3:15, ‘You killed the author of life, but God raised him from the dead. We are witnesses of this’
Acts 4:2, ‘They were greatly disturbed because the Apostles were teaching the people and proclaiming in Jesus the resurrection of the dead’
The fact of the resurrection has profound implications for us 2 000 years later.
The gospels and Acts are testifying to the resurrection. Most of the rest of the New Testament comprises letters that Paul wrote to the churches in the regions where he had planted them.
Paul teaches more theology and describes in detail how Christians should live.
Paul who never met Jesus before his crucifixion also testifies that Jesus is alive through the encounter he had on the road to Damascus when Jesus spoke to him after which Paul became a follower of Jesus Christ.
Paul was a really remarkable man – we know quite a lot about him through his writings and he also has some autobiographical parts in his letters. (Phil 3:5).
He also tells us what motivated him, what drove him on to do all he did and how he survived persecution, disappointments and suffering. He spent the rest of his life proclaiming the gospel. He believed whole-heartedly, without reservation that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah, the Son of God, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world and that His Name is the only Name by which we can be saved and that He is alive. Everything that he had achieved up to that point which may be to his credit, he considered as rubbish (Phil 3:7), in comparison to knowing Jesus.
Philippians 3:10 – this was Paul’s heart’s desire – what he lived for and worked toward. He said,
‘I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead’ (NIV)
Paul writes, ‘I want to know Christ’ – interesting!
He didn’t say ‘I wish I had of known Christ when he was alive’ or ‘I want to know more about Christ, let me talk to the people who knew him personally’, but he said, ‘I want to know Him’ – because he knew without a shadow of doubt that Jesus is alive!
Jesus is alive! The Bible testifies this through the eye witnesses at the time and the testimony of many who have met Jesus down through the ages and Paul, perhaps the greatest Apostle testifies that he can know him in a personal intimate way.
Which is good news for us, because like Paul we have not seen Jesus, we have heard of Him and we know a lot about him but we can also know Him personally because He is alive, not as we are but in a new resurrected dimension.
Knowing Jesus and knowing Paul - Our minds testify to this, for example I really admire Paul but I would never think that I could know him as I can know Jesus. Paul is dead and will one day be resurrected but not yet and therefore I can only know about him.
In fact Jesus invites us to know him as a friend as a lover, as a brother, as a husband, as our Father – all the relationships we have on earth are kind of a shadow of what real intimacy with God looks like.
I want to know Christ – how do I do this?
We do need to know about him – we do need to read about him in the gospels, hear about him through preachers but real knowing comes through spending time together, talking with him and walking with him through all the ups and downs of life. Like any relationship, if it is neglected it will die.
In conclusion let us press on toward the goal of knowing Him. There is a song we sing ‘The Greatness of our God’ and a line in it which says, ‘I spend my life to know and I’m far from close to all you are’
And Paul felt the same way – his goal was to know Christ and yet he felt far from achieving that goal. It is our life’s work as it was for Paul!
Paul confesses, perhaps like us that he hasn’t got there yet but he ‘presses on’ (Phil 3:12) as we also must do. Let us not give up, but make it our goal to know Christ and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in his suffering, becoming like him in his death and somehow we also will attain to the resurrection from the dead! Amen.