Sister Yadah Lokota
A life of a Believer is characterised by keeping one’s hands lifted through praise and worship, keeping their knees down through prayer, as well as constantly keeping their Bible and mouth open. However, all that’s been mentioned above is empty and stunted when not centered around and founded upon Jesus Christ. One may have to re-examine themselves to find out whether their studying of Scriptures seeks to find [Jesus Christ], as the Word of God reveals Him. As an alarming call, it is important to find out by which authority you pray: is it by self or by the authority of Jesus Christ? Essentially, a heart that approaches each of these aspects of fellowship without Jesus Christ at the centre is futile, which then results in a life full of unfruitfulness and confusion.
People describe Jesus differently. Some describe Him as a modern prophet who was betrayed. Many describe Him as their Lord and Saviour, others call Him their “Bestie”. And, some only use His Name when swearing. But consider this, in a practical manner, one cannot benefit from an official if they do not acknowledge their authority. Who do you say Jesus Christ is to you? The best way to find out about Jesus is to open your Bible and read what He says He is. And If you do not acknowledge the fullness of Jesus Christ, you will never experience Him in His Fullness. When we carefully read John 8:48-59 we begin to build an accurate picture of who Jesus Christ says He is: “Before Abraham was, I AM.” Looking into “I AM” translated from YHWH: In its original Hebrew pronunciation, it is a Word with no vowels, a sound of inhaling (first breath) and exhalation (last breath).
During Jesus Christ’s time on earth, Jesus said words that were challenging to many. But after saying what He said in John 8:48-59, many people had had enough as they could not have a reconciliation between what Jesus said and what they previously knew about the Saviour to come, so they resolved to stone Him. Simply put, they did not want to acknowledge who Jesus Christ said He was. Furthermore, when we read Exodus 3:13-14, we see that there was only one person who through times introduced Himself as I AM: God [Jesus is GOD]. Therefore, it is essential to stress that the first acknowledgement to give to Jesus, is to acknowledge Him as God, The Great I Am.
To further substantiate this read John 1:1-4, which helps us understand that “Everything came into being through the Word” and we exist because of Jesus Christ who is the Word. This helps us understand that at the beginning of our first breath (birth) and our last breath, Jesus will forever remain our source of life (as we read from John 1:1-4). This calls us to never cease giving thanks to God for giving us the breath of life. Even when we do not have much to say, we need to be thankful for the breath He has given us. The reason why God introduced Himself as “I AM” is because He wanted to reveal Himself through the entirety of His Son, Jesus Christ.
Let’s look into how Jesus Christ fulfilled that and who He says He is: The [ONLY] way to God is through God [Jesus] Himself. Jesus is not only the way to the Father, but He is our [ONLY] way here on earth (read John 14:6-7). Jesus Christ is our High Priest: in times before Christ, people had to sacrifice animals for the atonement of their sins without building on their relationship with God.
But for us, today through Christ, we are in communion with the Father, what a privilege for which we have to thank God daily. Jesus introduces Himself as “the Good Shepherd” (see John 10:11-18) and here are some qualities of a good Shepherd. Firstly, the good Shepherd leads His flock wherever He goes. We are the sheep as the Bible describes, whilst Jesus Christ is the good Shepherd. And in His function, He always ensures that He accompanies and leads us in every circumstance that He puts us in. And it is true that without the good Shepherd, our fate is to stray from His purpose, and it reverts us to the reality that we constantly in need of the good Shepherd to lead us in this life.
Secondly, the good Shepherd protects His sheep from predators. Often the sheep can’t see the dangers ahead, we are not able to tell apart who the predators are. Yet, the Good Shepherd knows His Sheep very well and protects them from predators by standing in our place and hitting the danger head-on. Whether the threat involves dangerous situations or people scheming against us without our knowledge. Thirdly, the Good Shepherd shears His sheep. This is generally done to prepare the sheep for the environment that they will be in. Jesus-Christ shapes and moulds His sheepfold for the greater purpose through His Word, both physically and spiritually. This goes to say that we are always equipped to face any situation that God leads us into because He would have prepared and moulded us for it, in His function of a good Shepherd. Lastly, the good Shepherd provides for His Sheep.
For that to happen, one has to be in the sheepfold and STAY in it. This entails following the good Shepherd, abiding in Him, in His Word, and His instructions. And when we are knowledgeable of His provision, we can claim it by turning to His Word, in His faithfulness and riches He will always supply for His Sheep. Jesus further introduces Himself as being the Vine (see John 15:1-5). In God simply existing, He had given believers or unbelievers, everything they’d need to live in this life (intelligence, health, gifts, skills) however the further one stays away from God, the less these are sustained by the Source (Jesus-Christ) and eventually dying out (see Psalms 127: 1). But for those who abide in Christ, the true Vine, together with what they build, bring forth fruits both in this life, in the Spiritual life as well as in the Life to come (i.e. Eternal Life).
This applies and extends to our work life. From this, we can learn that the key is not to hold on to the fruits or even the branch! The most important thing is to abide in the true Vine. As a branch, we get our fruit only from remaining attached to the Vine. Everything the branch needs; everything we NEED, God provides. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our Faith. Whenever we engage in a God-inspired activity and face challenges that weigh much on us that we do not want to continue, we have to quickly remind ourselves that It is JESUS’ FAITH that carries us through and not our faith.
In conclusion, when we face suffering and trials, when it seems like we have lost all excitement about this life and its purpose because of the pain we constantly endure, here is what Jesus proclaims “…I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.” (John 10:10). Here is a truth we can hold onto; in Jesus Christ we are to enjoy life and that in its abundance. Thus, we should constantly keep our eyes focused on Jesus Christ!