Jesus knew who he was.
Do you know who you are?
The recent biblical insights concerning the One Body and “members in particular” have been very exciting and liberating for many Christians. Through a deeper understanding of Romans 12, the Christian Church is becoming more aware of the complete picture of the Body of Christ, and finding one’s personal function is answering a lot of questions for a lot of people. For years, countless individuals have struggled to understand how they fit in the Christian fellowship. As our understanding of the One Body grows, we’re gaining a fuller picture of what the Church is: a lifestyle, and not a church meeting; a full-functioning family and not a Sunday morning gathering led by a select few.
In light of this broader understanding, labeling our abilities is not enough. It is only the beginning of thoroughly understanding what has been given us. With these gifts comes a responsibility to act. Often, Christians express an interest in fellowshipping with others, but wait for events to come to them. It is the seriousness of this accountability we need to examine. Our complacency will be judged accordingly. Mediocrity is not a virtue in the eyes of the living God, Who sacrificed all on our behalf. He sacrificed His Son.
When the Roman soldiers came to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, Jesus acknowledged who he was, and did so with such conviction that he literally blew them off their feet.
(4) Jesus, knowing all that was going to happen to him, went out and asked them, “Who is it you want?”
(5) “Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “I am he,” Jesus said. (And Judas the traitor was standing there with them.)
(6) When Jesus said, “I am he,” they drew back and fell to the ground.
Again, when Jesus stood before Pontius Pilate and the Roman governor queried him, he attested to the Kingship he knew he’d been given:
So Pilate asked Jesus, “Are you the King of the Jews?” “Yes, it is as you say,” Jesus replied.
When Jesus ascended off the face of the earth, he left in his stead, for the time being, us. In doing so, he gave us gifts, abilities that equip us to carry on with the work he started until he comes back. We can’t afford to wait on using what we’ve been given, counting on the idea that in the Day of our Lord, he’ll excuse our inaction by citing the inaction of others. The list in Romans 12, the functions or gifts or ministries that he gave, are his deposit in us to invest in our lives in order to yield a higher return. And he’ll be looking for that return on his investments when he comes back.
In Luke, chapter 19, we see an interesting scenario involving a chief tax collector by the name of Zacchaeus. By this time in his life, Jesus had quite a reputation. He was followed by huge crowds—hard not to notice as he traveled about. Zacchaeus, the Bible tells us, was two things: rich, and short. As Jesus passed by, Zacchaeus was too short to see him, so he ran ahead and perched himself in a sycamore-fig tree in order to get a better look. We’ll begin with Jesus connecting with this despised man.
(5) When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”
(6) So he came down at once and welcomed him gladly.
(7) All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a ‘sinner.’”
There are two responses here to Jesus’ action of reaching out to Zacchaeus: gladness on the part of the tax collector and grumbling on the part of those following the Christ. Didn’t he know who this man was? A brother who taxed them beyond the law in order to make himself rich, but who also held all the authority to abuse them! This act of merciful kindness on the part of Jesus touched Zacchaeus deeply, to the point of taking action.
(8) But Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.”
(9) Jesus said to him, “Today salvation has come to this house, because this man, too, is a son of Abraham.
(10) For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
It was not his birth into the Israeli household that gave this man any standing with the Lord, it was his actions. And while in this Administration of Grace, our salvation is sure, and our rewards are determined by what we do—or don’t do.
What happens next seems a little like a non-sequitur unless we reach deeply to understand what the Lord Jesus was trying to communicate.
(11) While they were listening to this, he went on to tell them a parable, because he was near Jerusalem and the people thought that the kingdom of God was going to appear at once.
(12) He said: “A man of noble birth went to a distant country to have himself appointed king and then to return.
(13) “So he called ten of his servants and gave them ten minas. ‘Put this money to work,’ he said, ‘until I come back.’
(14) “But his subjects hated him and sent a delegation after him to say, ‘We don’t want this man to be our king.’
(15) “He was made king, however, and returned home. Then he sent for the servants to whom he had given the money, in order to find out what they had gained with it.
(16) “The first one came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned ten more.’
(17) “‘Well done, my good servant!’ his master replied. ‘Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.’
(18) “The second came and said, ‘Sir, your mina has earned five more.’
(19) “His master answered, ‘You take charge of five cities.’
(20) “Then another servant came and said, ‘Sir, here is your mina; I have kept it laid away in a piece of cloth.
(21) I was afraid of you, because you are a hard man. You take out what you did not put in and reap what you did not sow.’
(22) “His master replied, ‘I will judge you by your own words, you wicked servant! You knew, did you, that I am a hard man, taking out what I did not put in, and reaping what I did not sow?
(23) Why then didn’t you put my money on deposit, so that when I came back, I could have collected it with interest?’
(24) “Then he said to those standing by, ‘Take his mina away from him and give it to the one who has ten minas.’
(25) “‘Sir,’ they said, ‘he already has ten!’
(26) “He replied, ‘I tell you that to everyone who has, more will be given, but as for the one who has nothing, even what he has will be taken away.
(27) But those enemies of mine who did not want me to be king over them—bring them here and kill them in front of me.’”
Why, in the midst of being a guest, surrounded by followers hungry for the beginning of the kingdom of God, would he tell them this parable of all parables? I submit that to those who would hear, Jesus understood they were waiting entirely on him to act now. He knew he had to prepare them for the reality of what was coming—sharing in his work, and being accountable for what they did or chose not to do. Jesus knew all that was going to happen to him, his suffering and death, and that the immediate advent of his earthly kingdom would not precede that. He also knew that he would be employing their partnership. This same Jesus has employed you as well.
1 Corinthians 4:1 and 2
(1) So then, men ought to regard us as servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.
(2) Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful.
2 Corinthians 4:17-20
(17) Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!
(18) All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation:
(19) that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.
(20) We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.
What you do not do is just as valid in the eyes of God as what you do. You have been given gifts in order that you use them for the benefit of others in the interest of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Body. Apathy is an action; it’s a negative action. In the book of Amos, God warned the Israelites about complacency:
Woe to you who are complacent in Zion…
In Revelation 3: 15 and 16 we see Jesus’ reaction to a lazy spiritual attitude.
Revelation 3: 15 and 16
(15) I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other!
(16) So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth.
We live in the Administration of Grace, and yet we’re not to use that grace as an occasion to be apathetic, like a spoiled child counting on a weak father. Our spiritual Father is not weak. It behooves us to consider the gravity of the words of the Apostle Paul when he wrote by revelation:
(23) Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men,
(24) since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
(25) Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.
The John who penned the book of Revelation was a friend of Jesus on earth. They fried fish together, ate and spent time walking and talking, telling jokes, serving. The picture painted of the returning Lord in the book of Revelation is one of a man’s Man, a warrior, a powerful being—so much so, that his beloved John collapsed at the sight of him, overwhelmed in his presence.
(12) I turned around to see the voice that was speaking to me. And when I turned I saw seven golden lampstands,
(13) and among the lampstands was someone “like a son of man,” dressed in a robe reaching down to his feet and with a golden sash around his chest.
(14) His head and hair were white like wool, as white as snow, and his eyes were like blazing fire.
(15) His feet were like bronze glowing in a furnace, and his voice was like the sound of rushing water.
(16) In his right hand he held seven stars, and out of his mouth came a sharp double-edged sword. His face was like the sun shining in all its brilliance.
(17) When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. Then he placed his right hand on me and said: “Do not be afraid. I am the First and the Last.
(18) I am the Living One; I was dead, and behold I am alive for ever and ever! And I hold the keys of death and Hades.”
YOU are Christ’s ambassador! That means that without you recognizing who you really are, and getting involved somehow, somewhere, Christ is not represented. When you truly understand the power you have and the gifts you’ve been given and act accordingly, the world trembles—and our Lord rejoices!
I was present at the Teens & Twenties Camp this past summer when one of the men there ministered to a camper. He spoke out loud, “I want to remind any spirits present here that I am a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that what I say in his name, you must do.” This man got the message! There was deliverance that day! What power!
I encourage you to say the same line out loud: “I am a minister of the Lord Jesus Christ!” Say it over and over. Let it sink in. Be the servant who recognizes both the value of the Man who sent you and the gifts he gave. Be the one to whom your Master will say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant!”