To be truthful, most days — maybe all days, actually — I go around thinking about and picturing Jesus as a pretty great guy. After all, he did a lot of great things and spoke some amazing words that resound very deeply within me. Jesus was the man who proclaimed forgiveness to the sinner and hope for the hopeless. He commanded us to give up all our earthly things and trust fully in God. Jesus said to be weak is to truly be strong, and to be poor is what allows us to actually be rich.
Jesus’ brand of justice was different than the way we think about it today: it was a justice where we all get what we need; it wasn’t about people getting “what’s coming to them,” or “what they deserve.” Christ preached reconciliation and redemption, not retribution and retaliation. Jesus gave the greatest commandment as such to love all as if they were no different than us. True love is grace — unconditional and without requirement or reservation.
But that view of Jesus falls short, because if that’s all that makes Jesus special, he’s hardly any better than others we might look up to, like Gandhi or Martin Luther King, Jr., or maybe even someone you know living today. Looking at Jesus as “a pretty great guy” misses the point of what makes Jesus stand out in the first place: Jesus is the Son of God who died and rose again, conquering death and the grave so all might live eternally.
Today, venturing to Easter services, hearing hymns of praise and the story of followers finding the empty tomb of Christ, was a good reminder to me of what sets Jesus apart, and why He is truly worthy of praise, honor, and adoration. It’s a fact of Christ I need to remember on a more regular basis — something I’ll have to work on. For me, it’s surely the “great guy” stuff that draws me to Jesus, but what sets Him apart — and why I choose to follow — is what I, and millions around the world, celebrated today: I know that my Redeemer lives!
“I Know that My Redeemer Lives!” by: Samuel Medley (alt. for hymn)
I know that my Redeemer lives!
What comfort this sweet sentence gives!
He lives, he lives, who once was dead;
He lives, my everliving head!
He lives triumphant from the grave;
He lives eternally to save;
He lives exalted, throned above;
He lives to rule his Church in love.
He lives to grant me rich supply;
He lives to guide me with his eye;
He lives to comfort me when faint;
He lives to hear my soul’s complaint.
He lives to silence all my fears;
He lives to wipe away my tears;
He lives to calm my troubled heart;
He lives all blessing to impart.
He lives to bless me with his love;
He lives to plead for me above;
He lives my hungry soul to feed;
He lives to help in time of need.
He lives, my kind, wise, heavenly friend;
He lives and loves me to the end;
He lives, and while he lives, I’ll sing;
He lives, my Prophet, Priest, and King!
He lives and grants me daily breath;
He lives, and I shall conquer death;
He lives my mansion to prepare;
He lives to bring me safely there.
He lives, all glory to his name!
He lives, my Savior, still the same;
What joy this blest assurance gives;
I know that my Redeemer lives!