What is your concept of Jesus Christ, the central figure and cornerstone of our faith as Christians? Is He the long-haired man with a shepherd’s staff pictured in Sunday school coloring books, the baby shown in millions of nativity scenes, a great teacher, prophet or the character from the Broadway musical "Jesus Christ Superstar?" A clear understanding of who Jesus really is in the lives of believers, His impact on the church — and the entire world — is sometimes missed entirely. We often limit Jesus to the small box of our world, not viewing the enormity of who He really is in heaven and on earth.
The commemoration of the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation caused me to examine again the life and vigilant faith of reformer and prolific hymn writer, Martin Luther. Among his voluminous works, Luther wrote the famous hymn "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God." Based on Psalm 46, the hymn is a celebration of the sovereign power of God over all Earthly and spiritual forces, and the sure hope we have in Him because of Christ.
Luther’s description of the real Jesus caught my attention as my eye fell upon the second stanza in this most famous of all of Luther’s hymns. It reads, “Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing; Were not the right Man on our side, The Man of God’s own choosing. Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He; Lord Sabaoth is His name, From age to age the same, And He must win the battle.” Luther describes Christ as the powerful son of God and the Man of God’s own choosing.
The Gospel of John records seven famous “I AM” statements Jesus spoke about Himself. These words of Jesus give us the assurance that Luther truly wrote under the inspiration of God and the Holy Spirit. Historians believe the hymn was written in 1527 as the plague was approaching Germany. Truly he was onto something huge as he described how God reveals His love to us through His son, the man He chose to send to Earth to “shelter us from the flood of mortal ills prevailing." Luther ends the hymn with this statement, “His kingdom is forever."
Contemplating how God has chosen Jesus to fulfill His divine plan has greatly strengthened my faith to trust God more and to believe in his power to change our lives.
As we move into Advent season, the focus of all Christendom will shift to the birth of Jesus. Let us remember the baby in the manger did not stay there. He grew to be the Man of God’s own choosing, loving the whole world and giving His life for all, so that we might receive not only help in this life, but the promise of eternal life in the world to come. The apostle Paul records the great Christological hymn in the book of Philippians expressing how Jesus did not regard his equality to God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant being made in the likeness of men. He humbled Himself to the point of death on the cross.
The real Jesus did stand up for all mankind on the cross of Calvary. Our God chose well by sending Christ whose Kingdom is forever. Luther’s words ring true, “The Spirit and the gifts are ours Thro’ Him who with us sideth.” Jesus is on our side, offering His love and redemption for all.