Many interesting people have lived during the past 6,000 years. My brother-in-law David loves biographies, learning about some of those interesting people and the interesting things they have said and done. I asked him for his three favorite biographies, and he responded: Wow. I have many – but if I had to pick three I would say: Jonathan Edwards: A Life by Marsden; Rebbe: The Life and Teachings of Menachem Mendel Schneerson by Telushkin; and The Rise of Theodore Roosevelt by Morris. Now, I’m sure Jonathan Edwards, Theodore Roosevelt and Menachem Schneerson were interesting people and important things can be learned about them and the times they lived in from these biographies. However, of all the people who have lived, and of all the biographies ever written, I’m by far most interested in one person – Yeshua. There are four divinely inspired biographies about Him. Here are some of the things I like about Yeshua that come from the biography written by His friend and disciple, John.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
Communication is good; and there are many ways to communicate; and some of those ways are are more effective than others. Some ways to communicate: spoken words; written words; sign language; body language; facial expressions; eye contact; touch; gestures; pointing; drawing.
I like that Yeshua is the Word. He is the greatest way in which God communicates to us. He is the best way in which God reveals Himself to us. I want to know God. I want to be able to have God communicate with me. Yeshua is the one who makes that happen to the highest degree possible. That makes Yeshua very special.
I am impressed by things that are old. Just being old makes them special. I felt awe when our family was in California and saw the giant redwood tree known as General Sherman. It’s 2,700 years old. That means it was alive in the time of Isaiah. But it’s not the oldest tree. The oldest tree may be a bristlecone pine in the White Mountains in California. It’s close to 5,000 years old – which means it started growing shortly after the waters of the Flood receded. That tree is very old. Yeshua is far older. I like that Yeshua was in the beginning – and before the beginning. In fact, He has no beginning. How cool to know someone who is the oldest, who is ancient of days, who has no beginning.
I like the relationship that Yeshua has to His Father. It’s very special. In the beginning, Yeshua was with God – meaning the Father. In fact before the beginning, Yeshua was with God. There was never a time when the Son was not with the Father. He the eternally begotten Son of God, begotten, not made, always in relationship as Son to the Father. That makes Yeshua very special.
I like that Yeshua was with God, and that He was God. He was not the Father, but He was God. That means that Yeshua always shared the same divine nature as the Father. Yeshua is eternal, uncreated, having all the attributes of divinity. This too makes Yeshua very special.
An easy way to understand the relationship of the Father and the Son: a distinction of persons; an equality of nature; a hierarchy of authority – the Father being greater in authority than the Son.
I’m impressed by people who are able to make beautiful or complex things. I like that all things were made though Yeshua. That’s a lot of things! The universe is incredibly big; and complex; and beautiful; and everything in it works together in an amazing way. And Yeshua made it all! That’s very impressive. That makes Yeshua very special.
I like that Yeshua is the source of life; and is able to give life and restore life that was forfeited by sin. Life is an amazing gift. How wonderful to know the One who is the source and giver and redeemer of life; and to receive life from Him.
We live in a spiritually dark world, full of confusion, unhappiness, defeat, death. I like that Yeshua is the antidote to the darkness. He is the light of all mankind. He is full of truth, wisdom, revelation, victory, salvation, happiness and life. He is the light that shines in the darkness, and is stronger than the darkness. The darkness will never be able to overcome Him.
I want my life to be full of truth, revelation, victory and happiness. Yeshua alone makes that possible. That makes Him very special.
I like that Yeshua became flesh and made His dwelling among us. I want God to be sympathetic to me and my situation; to my weaknesses; my frailties; my struggles; my humanity. I don’t want God to be distant, aloof, uninvolved, far away. I want to be very close to God and I want God to be very close to me. I want God to be like a good neighbor I can go to. Yeshua’s incarnation makes all that possible.
I enjoy ironies. I like that Yeshua was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. That has to be the greatest of all ironies. And I like that to the minority who did recognize Him, He gave the right to become children of God. I want to be a child of God. Yeshua is the one who can give me that right. That makes Yeshua very special.
I like grace. I want grace. I need a lot of grace in my life, a lot of undeserved, unmerited, unearned help. I like that Yeshua is full of grace, and that out of His fullness we are able to receive, grace after grace; one grace in place of another grace already given. When one grace runs out, another grace is there to take its place.
We live in a world of lies, errors, deception; a world in which truth and error are mixed together in a deadly combination. If the truth sets us free, and it does, I want to be set free. If the truth saves, and it does, I want to know the truth – pure truth unmixed with error. I like that Yeshua is full of truth.
Many people have had a relationship with God and have revealed things about God. Yeshua’s relationship to the Father is the closest; and He has revealed God the way God needs to be known. I like that no one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made Him known. I like that by knowing Yeshua, I can know God the way I need to. I can be close to God the way I want to. That makes Yeshua very, very special.
The world is under the power of sin. The world is dead in trespasses and sin. The world’s greatest need is to have its sin taken away. And there is a way, but only one way, for that to happen – and that is through Yeshua. I like that Yeshua is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world; that by being the Son of God, and by becoming a man, and by living a perfect life, and by dying on the cross and coming back to life, Yeshua made it possible for our sin to be taken away – and replaced by everlasting righteousness.
For people to have successful ministries, they need the Spirit of God. Before Yeshua arrived, the Holy Spirit would come upon people, giving them wisdom and power to fulfill their God-appointed tasks.
But if they sinned, like king Saul did, the Spirit would leave – which is why David prayed: Don’t take Your Holy Spirit from me. I like that at the very beginning of Yeshua’s ministry, at His baptism, the Spirit came down from Heaven as a dove and remained on Yeshua; and He never left Yeshua. He always filled Yeshua with the wisdom and power He needed to do everything God wanted Him to do.
We need the Holy Spirit – not just a little of the Spirit, but to be filled with the Spirit, to be surrounded and engulfed and immersed with the Spirit. I like that John the Baptist testified that Yeshua is able to immerse us with the Holy Spirit. I believe John’s testimony.
Yeshua is so special that He has many name and titles. I like His names and titles. I like that when Nathanael first encountered Him, he declared: Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the king of Israel.
Rabbi: We come into this world ignorant and foolish. We need to be taught. We need teachers. Yeshua is the greatest teacher – by far. He is supremely able to teach us about God, the Word of God, the salvation of God. I like that Yeshua is a Rabbi, and He is my Rabbi.
Son of God: That does not mean that God birthed Yeshua in some way, or that the Son of God is younger than the Father. It means exactly the opposite! Just as a human son shares the same human nature as his father, so Yeshua shares the same nature as His Father. The Son of God is divine, eternal, uncreated. He shares all the attributes of God. I like that I can be in a relationship with Yeshua, the Son of God.
King of Israel: Yeshua is a descendant of king David. He is greater than David, or any of the other kings that came from David. When Yeshua returns, He will sit on David’s throne and rule Israel and all the other nations. I like our constitution and our representative form of government – but it has flaws. It is imperfect. I like that King Yeshua will have the perfect government and be the perfect leader.
I like that Yeshua changed Simon’s name to Cephas, Peter, the Rock. When Simon first encountered Yeshua, he was not a rock. But by the time Yeshua was finished with him – teaching him, correcting him, forgiving his failures, Simon was a rock – strong, reliable, able to be a pillar that supported Messiah’s Community. That’s what Yeshua can do with people. That’s what He wants to do with you. That’s what He wants to do with me. When we are close to Yeshua, He is able to transform us into what we should be.
I like that Yeshua found Philip and said to him, “Follow me.” And Philip did. This is what it means to believe in Yeshua. This is what it means to be a Christian or a Messianic Jew. It is not just a belief; a way of thinking. It is a radical commitment to follow Yeshua – to know Him and be with Him and stay close to Him and allow Him to lead us, even if He leads us into difficult situations.
I like that Yeshua said to Nathanael: you will see heaven open, and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of Man. Yeshua is the fulfillment of the vision of Jacob’s Ladder. He is the ladder between Heaven and Earth. He is able to end the estrangement between God and humanity. He is able to reconcile Heaven and Earth so that God and the good angels will be able to have full access to a new and redeemed humanity, and vice-versa.
I like that Yeshua did many miracles. God has allowed very few people to do miracles. Yeshua’s miracles exceed them all. This lets us know that He was sent by God; that He was close to God. I like that Yeshua’s first miracle took place at a wedding, and to help the families, He turned water into wine – a lot of really superb wine. For those of us who enjoy wine, this makes this miracle very special.
I like that Yeshua went up to Jerusalem for Passover, and when, at the temple, He found people selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money, He made a whip out of cords, and drove them from the temple courts; and He scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves He said, “Get these out of here! Stop turning My Father’s house into a market!” The temple was under the authority of the priests. It took tremendous courage to ignore their authority and cleanse the temple. This teaches us that Yeshua was a very courageous man; and that He had great zeal for God and the things that were important to God – and we should be courageous and zealous.
While He did a miracle to help the families and guests at the wedding in Cana, He didn’t do a miracle when it was demanded, especially by those who opposed Him. I like that when the leaders asked Yeshua for a sign to prove His authority to cleanse the temple, He answered, “Destroy this temple, and I will raise it again in three days” – referring to His death and the resurrection of His body. This reveals that Yeshua was aware that God was living in Him in a greater way than God was living in the temple; and that the leaders would reject Him and kill Him; and that He would come back to life on the third day. Yeshua’s understanding of Himself and His mission, and His life and death and resurrection was amazing.
I like that when many people saw the signs Yeshua was performing and believed in Him, He would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all people. He knew what was in each person. He knew human nature. He knew that belief, commitment, loyalty can be temporary. The enthusiasm that comes from a shallow faith can evaporate. Today’s believer can become tomorrow’s betrayer. And so He did not entrust Himself to these people, even though they had some faith in Him. That raises some important questions for us: What kind of faith do we have? A shallow, temporary faith? Or real faith, enduring faith that enables Yeshua to entrust His interests to us?
I like that Yeshua said to Nicodemus, who was a member of the Sanhedrin, that no one can see the kingdom of God unless they are born again; that flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit gives birth to spirit. If Nicodemus, one of the great teachers of the Chosen People, needed to be born again, needed to receive a new nature in order to see the kingdom of God, you can be sure that everyone else does too – Jews and Gentiles; you and your parents and grandparents; all your friends and family. Since this is true, won’t you tell them that being born once is not enough?
That they need to be born again?
For some adventures, some journeys, it’s good to have a guide; an expert who knows the dangers that may be encountered, who knows the way to the destination. I want to go to Heaven, not Hell. I want an expert guide to help me get there. I prefer someone who has been to Heaven and who really knows the way to Heaven to help me get there. I like that Yeshua said: No one has ever gone into Heaven except the one who came from Heaven – speaking about Himself. This makes Yeshua very special. “Jesus be my guide, and hold me to your side, and I will love you to the end.”
I believe it’s possible to live forever. I want to live forever. I like that Yeshua told us how we can live forever – not through freezing our bodies or heads, like some are doing, with the hope that at some time in the future, science will advance enough to restore them to life; and be able to heal all diseases and rejuvenate our bodies; or transfer our consciousness to other brain. No, Yeshua’s way to have eternal life is different, and much better: Just as Moses lifted up the snake in the wilderness, so the Son of Man must be lifted up, that everyone who believes may have eternal life.
When the generation that left Egypt accused God and Moses of bringing them into the wilderness to kill them, and complained that there was not enough food and water, and they were sick of the miserable manna that miraculously appeared each day, God punished them for their ungrateful, rebellious attitude. He sent poisonous snakes which bit many of them. When many died, and the people were sufficiently disciplined, the Lord offered a cure: If they made a bronze snake and put it on a pole, anyone who was bitten and looked at the snake would be healed.
Yeshua is teaching us how salvation works – that the cure must be related to the disease. Snakes bit the people, so the people were required to look at a snake. Humanity has been bitten by the satanic serpent and spiritual poison is in us, and we will most certainly die. But, we can be saved by looking at Yeshua, by knowing He is the Messiah who died on the cross and came back to life.
The Bible is the best known book in the world. John 3:16 is probably the best known verse in the best known book. I like that Yeshua is the one who said: God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. Yeshua is teaching us that the whole world is perishing. If an individual does nothing, he will perish. He will die. God the Father loves us and wants to prevent us from perishing. He wants us to live with Him forever. And so He gave His Son to die in our place. The only way to not perish but have eternal life is to become loyal to Yeshua. Do you believe this? If so, won’t you tell others this – all the time? Each and every day?
I like that Yeshua defied the social norms of His day and spoke to a Samaritan woman by a well. That’s something other rabbis wouldn’t do. This is the opposite of racism. This is the opposite of sexism. This is love for all people, no matter their race or gender.
I like that Yeshua is a master evangelist and interested this woman, who came to draw water from the well, in Himself and His message by offering her living water that would produce eternal life. This is evangelism on the way. This is taking the evangelistic initiative. This is evangelism, using things that people are interested in, to point them to Yeshua. This is what we need to be doing every day.
Let’s pray: Our Father in Heaven, please give us a greater understanding of Yeshua; a greater love for Yeshua; a greater appreciation for Yeshua. Fill us with the Spirit of Yeshua. Transform us into the image of Yeshua. Make us more like Yeshua. Help us be very close to Yeshua. Help us fulfill the ongoing mission of Yeshua that He has entrusted to us; may we be faithful to Him and to His great mission.