Greetings once again friends! This is Episode 13 of the podcast. The title of this week’s episode is “The Incomparable Christ.” Click HERE to listen to the audio podcast on Anchor.fm/goodlifenews.
Here are the words to a popular song we used to sing with church kids many years ago:
“Let’s talk about Jesus, The King of Kings is He, The Lord of lords supreme, Through all eternity. The Great I AM, the Way, The Truth, the Life, the Door, Let’s talk about Jesus more and more.” ©Buffum Music Company
Let’s talk about Jesus!
There are several more verses to this song which I never knew about. We only sang the first verse several times in a row, tagging each time with these added words (which I just discovered are not part of the original song!):
"O my loving brother, When the world’s on fire, Don’t ya want God’s bosom To be your pillow? Hide me ever in the Rock of Ages, Rock of Ages, cleft for me!"
There’s a lot of great truth in that little song.
Let’s explore a few thoughts and observations as we seek to know more about this Person who is truly “one of a kind” in the entire Universe.
First, I want to briefly explain a biblical Greek word that, sadly, has been somewhat mistranslated into English.
In John 3:16 (and several other verses in the New Testament) the word “begotten” is used to identify Jesus as the “Son of God.”
Most Bible students are familiar with the expression, “God’s only begotten Son.” The use of “begotten” in this phrase stems from an early translation of the New Testament by Jerome of Stridon, who is commonly referred to as “St. Jerome,” or simply “Jerome.” He should not be confused with the Christian martyr Jerome of Prague who lived 1,000 years later.
Jerome of Stridon was a Latin priest living in the 4th century A.D., a biblical languages scholar who worked on revising and updating some earlier Latin translations, including the four gospels, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Jerome’s final manuscript is known today in biblical academia as the “Latin Vulgate,” which heavily influenced subsequent translations into English.
For over 1000 years, from c.400-c.1400 A.D. the Latin Vulgate Bible was the only translation of the Scriptures allowed by Rome. Copies such as the one pictured here were laboriously produced by hand, including text and illustrations. Individual commoners were not permitted to own a copy. Most were illiterate. Bibles like this copy were literally chained to a desk in the church.
The Greek word translated “begotten” is “monogenes.”
When translating “monogenes,” Jerome chose a Latin word with the underlying meaning of “procreation,” instead of another similar, but more accurate word, meaning “unique.” Unfortunately, when the early English versions were produced, the translators relied heavily on Jerome’s Latin Vulgate, resulting in the use of a word—begotten—implying that Jesus was in some way created or “birthed” by God the Father. This is simply incorrect, both linguistically and theologically. Begotten was then used in the 1611 King James Version, and due to the 300+ years of the KJV’s dominance in the English-speaking world, begotten became firmly established in the minds of all believers speaking and reading English.
The true meaning, however, is found in the original Greek term, “monogenes,” which literally means, “one of a kind,” or “a completely unique” person.
And, when we stop to think about it, there is no other being in the entire Universe like Jesus! He is uniquely both fully God and fully human.
But, let’s move on.
The little song I quoted at the beginning of this episode lists several important identities of Jesus—King of kings, Lord of lords, the Great I AM, the Way, the Truth, the Life, the Door.
Yes! Jesus is all of those and more! Perhaps in a later episode I can explore those titles of Jesus a little more fully. But for now, I’d like to look at several Earth-bound occupations that could have been natural choices for Jesus in his “made flesh” experience, but which he laid aside to focus on his Father’s mission and purpose.
Around the time of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, Herod Antipas began to rebuild the city of Sepphoris, about 5 miles northwest of Nazareth. Herod had designated Sepphoris as the capital city for the province of Galilee, which he began ruling after the death of his father Herod the Great. The building process continued for many years, resulting in the city growing rapidly in both population and importance.
When Joseph the Carpenter returned from Egypt with Mary and Jesus, it is very possible—perhaps even probable—that he looked for work in Sepphoris. The distance from Nazareth was not far, probably only about an hour’s walk each way. With his donkey carrying the tools, Joseph could easily make the commute to and from Sepphoris every day. It’s not unthinkable that as Jesus grew from childhood into his adult years, Joseph might take him along to help with the building projects.
As Joseph’s apprentice—whether in the city or at home in the carpentry shop—Jesus would have mastered the skills of the trade. If that were his mission in life, he certainly could have easily become the best carpenter every to pick up a hammer or a saw. Nevertheless, Jesus knew his mission was not just to build houses or furniture. His mission was “to seek and to save” lost souls for the Kingdom of God. He chose to stay focused on that ultimate goal.
Jesus knew how to take care of sheep! His earthly genealogy line extended all the way back to Abraham, Issac, and Jacob. Jesus came from the line of King David, a shepherd boy who watched his father’s flocks on the hills of Bethlehem. Although there is no biblical evidence that Jesus had direct experience in taking care of sheep, there were certainly plenty around the Galilean countryside for him to observe!
Jesus knew the history of the Jewish people, and he knew the personal interest a true shepherd would have for his flock. In fact, Jesus says, “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep . . . . I know my sheep, and they know me” (John 10:11, 14).
He also told the wonderful story of the one lost sheep missing from the flock and the shepherd who went searching for it.
Indeed, Jesus could have been an outstanding shepherd. But, instead, he chose you and me to be part of his spiritual flock.
Here’s a thought: no one ever died in the presence of Jesus! Not only that, every dead person he ever encountered he brought back to life! Every sick person who requested his help received healing.
Jesus didn’t need to spend long years in preparation to practice medicine. He healed the diseases, injuries, and fears around him with a touch or sometimes just a simple word of assurance or instruction. The faith of the sick made them whole. He could have become history’s most renowned physician, but, again, he chose the only course which would bring eternal healing and wholeness to the entire body of mankind.
One of the greatest challenges for people who fish is where to locate them! In my closet I have a battery-powered sonar fish finder (which I’ve only used once or twice since buying it several years ago). This device is supposed to show you a picture on the screen the location and depth of fish in a lake. I never had much luck with it, probably because I didn’t really know anything about operating it successfully.
But, Jesus didn’t need a sonar fish finder! He knew right where they were, and used his knowledge several times to teach his disciples—who were professional, commercial fishermen—what it meant for them to become “fishers of men.”
I mentioned earlier about Jesus learning carpentry as an apprentice to his earthly father, Joseph. But we must not forget that he—Jesus—was the greatest builder in all the Universe!
Genesis 1:1 — “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”
Colossians 1:15-16 — “Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see—such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him. He existed before anything else, and he holds all creation together” (NLT).
Jesus as the Master Builder also left us with these promises:
John 14:1-3 — “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am” (NLT).
And, we must not miss this beautiful description of the home he is preparing for us:
Revelation 21:1-4 — “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, the New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away” (NKJV).
Many years ago when I was about 15, I attempted to build a doghouse for our farm dog, Victor. My attempts at building were a total—I mean, TOTAL failure. I tried, but I simply did not know how to join the various structural parts together correctly. What I ended up with was a total embarrassment and a pile of ruined lumber. To this day I can’t believe how terrible it looked.
“My” doghouse project was only saved by my father who stepped in and took over. He was a skilled carpenter with years of experience. Under his able hands, Victor’s doghouse came into existence, and sheltered not only Victor for several years, but all the other successive dogs who followed him on our farm. The doghouse was beautiful, functional, and loved by all the dogs who called it “home.”
Yes, friend, I don’t know who you are or where you are as you listen or read these words right now. But, may I be so bold as to invite you to drop whatever tools you have—tools of your self-will—and pray this prayer:
“Come, Master Builder. Tear down this miserable structure I’ve been trying to build out of my life. Clear away the foundations of my self-sufficiency, and build upon yourself the superstructure of holiness.”
If you humbly present that prayer to Jesus, the Incomparable Christ, I assure you he will answer in the fullness of ways you can only imagine.
Thank you so much for listening today! I pray you have been blessed.
I hope you can join me for next week’s episode. I’ll be sharing some thoughts about several books written by N. T. Wright, the British theologian/clergyman I mentioned in last week’s episode when I shared the “Five Things That Never Change.” If you enjoy deep, but truly insightful, inspiring reading, I know you will find the work of Dr. Wright very worthwhile.
Be sure to tune in, and if you enjoy these Podcasts and Blogposts, please share with your friends, family, or whomever! My many thanks—in advance!