Consider Jesus (2)

We're all theologians.

Looking upon You (7)

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls.
Hebrews 12.1-3

Tired and weary?
These times we live in are making people tired and weary. A mood of uncertainty and even fear has settled over the world. People look for something to hope in, but their hopes are mostly for temporal security and wellbeing. Even Christians are becoming weary of the current situation, and some of them are beginning to drift from the faith once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 1.3).

But there is an antidote to this weariness: Consider Jesus. Look to Jesus. Meditate on the glory that is to be known in the face of Jesus. Set your mind on Jesus. Set the Lord always before you.

This, in fact, is not only a formula for overcoming weariness; it’s a formula for becoming more like Jesus Himself, full of righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit. In 2 Corinthians 3.12-18, Paul explained that as we look to the glory of Jesus which is revealed in His Word, the Spirit brings us into that glory, so that we become partakers of Jesus (2 Pet. 1.4), and we are gradually and increasingly transformed into His image. Our true identity is to be found in Christ alone, and in becoming more like Him. As Andrew Peterson explained in his book, Adorning the Dark, “We need not look anywhere but to the eyes of our Savior for our true identity, an identity which is profoundly complex, unfathomable, deep as the sea, and yet can be boiled down to one little word: beloved” (p. 24).

The antidote to weariness and discouragement is to see the face of Jesus and to bask in His shepherding love. We consider Jesus when we look to Him in His Word and in His works of creation and culture. Paintings, poems, works of art, musical compositions, and the glories of creation can engage our hearts and minds for Christ as we spend time considering Him there.

But there is a second kind of considering Jesus that the writer of Hebrews mentions, and it is equally important. Taken together with the aesthetic and affective consideration of Jesus urged in Hebrews 3.1, this work of considering Jesus can more fully embed Him and His glory in our minds.

Theologians all
The second word the writer of Hebrews uses which English Bibles translate as “consider” is ἀναλογίζομαι (analogizomai). Louw and Nida explain the various meanings of this Greek word: “to think or reason with thoroughness and completeness – to think out carefully, to reason thoroughly”; “to consider carefully, to reason, reasoning.”

This form of considering Jesus is more intellectual than the form of considering Him we saw in Hebrews 3.1. This requires a more earnest, systematic, and analytical use of the mind. We might thus say that what the writer urges in Hebrews 12.1 is a theological considering of Jesus. Together with the aesthetic and affective form of this verb, ἀναλογίζομαι is a call to theological study and contemplation.

Don’t be put off by the word “theology.” Theology is nothing other than the disciplined pursuit of the knowledge of God and His glory. All believers are theologians, in that we are all interested in knowing God better and living for His glory. We read our Bibles, listen to sermons, join a study group, read books, talk with one another, and pray so that we can fulfill Peter’s instruction to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Pet. 3.18). So we’re all theologians. We’re all pursuing the knowledge of God and His glory.

The better and more consistent we become at this theological considering of Jesus, the livelier will be our faith, the more hopeful will be our walk, and the more fruitful we will be in all our work. Like Paul, we need to make it our business to press on to know the Lord (Phil. 3.7-11). We need to heed Hosea’s exhortation to the weary and straying people of Israel, “Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD…” (Hos. 6.3). For when we give ourselves to this theological calling, then the Lord “will come to us like rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth” (Hos. 6.3).

Considering Jesus theologically
But what does this entail? First and foremost, searching the Scriptures in every part to learn what they have to tell us about Jesus (Jn. 5.39). All Scripture is breathed by the Spirit of God to convey the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ (2 Tim. 3.15-17). The more we know Him, the more we will know the Father (Jn. 14.9); and the more we know Jesus and the Father, the more we will increase in the experience of eternal life (Jn. 17.3). As you read your Bible each day, wait on the Lord to show you Jesus in every section, book, chapter, and passage of His Word. He’s there; all we have do is wait and think and meditate and pray. Soon enough, He’ll present Himself for our consideration.

It will also be helpful to consider important aspects of the Person and work of Christ: His relationship to the Father and Spirit in the Godhead; His role in God’s covenant; the nature and necessity of His work of atonement, redemption, and the reconciliation of the world. The mystery of His incarnation, death, resurrection and ascension should command our attention continually. We’ll need to understand Jesus as the Head of the Church, which is His Body. Our study should take us into the throne room of Jesus, where He sits at the right hand of God, upholding the cosmos and everything in it by His Word of power. The return of Jesus and His place in the new heavens and new earth should also be part of our considering Him theologically.

Beyond the Scriptures, abundant resources are available to help us in considering Jesus theologically. Works of the Church Fathers, such as Augustine’s On the Trinity or Anselm’s Why the God/Man, together with the early creeds of the Church – Apostles’, Nicene, and Chalcedonian – can stretch our minds to a larger vision and understanding of Who Jesus is. The writings of Jonathan Edwards (“Christ Exalted,” “The Agony of Christ,” A Treatise on Religious Affections, and so forth) are especially rich in teaching about the Person and work of Christ. Many recent and contemporary writers have done some very good work unpacking the teaching of Scripture about Jesus and His work of redemption. We should not be reluctant to look into such works, since they all were written to instruct, encourage, and equip us with a greater knowledge of our Lord.

Considering Jesus theologically and aesthetically is demanding but rewarding work. We must be neither lazy nor cavalier in pursuing the knowledge of the Lord, but diligent, hopeful, and eager to learn and experience as much of Him as we can, day by day, more and more.

In the remaining studies in this series, I’ll try to establish a track or course that we can pursue to increase in the knowledge of our Lord. Let us keep before us that humble prayer of those Greeks, “Sir, we would see Jesus.” For in seeing Jesus, we discover our true identity and the power for restoring all things to God.

For reflection or discussion

1.  Many believers find theological study off-putting. Why should that not be the case?

2.  What does it mean to you to pursue the knowledge of the Lord?

3.  Why is it important that you do so?

Next steps – Preparation: What can you do today to ratchet-up your pursuit of the knowledge of God and His glory?

T. M. Moore

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Except as indicated, Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in Essex Junction, VT.
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