“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Jesus Relates in Matthew 11:30 (The Message Paraphrase)
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:30 (ESV)
Does Jesus Relate?
Work. School. Family. Relationships. Life. Culture. Entertainment. Feelings. The world we inhabit has all kinds of different venues, spaces where we live and move and have our being. Jesus doesn’t seem to relate. Far from our minds are the actions and activities of a man who lived 2000 years ago in a world that looked very little like the one we inhabit today. So why should we even put any stock in anything that this religious guru from a faraway place and time said? What possible relationship to today does some man we’ve never even met who had a few cool teachings have any bearing on how we are to live, think, or believe about anything today?
This is a good question. And I think for many people it matters. It matters because there are lots of people who seem to think it matters. It matters because there are lots of reasons to believe the words this man said. It matters because so much of what he said, what he did, and who he was have major implications on our lives today that we don’t even often realize.
Does Jesus Relate to us? I want to offer a few reasons why Jesus relates to us that I hope will make you think through and understand what the implications are for you.
- Jesus relates to us because he was human like we are. Not sure if you realized this, but Jesus was a man. There is actual evidence through historical record outside of the Bible that tells us that this man was real and that he had followers and that he walked this earth. This has huge implications. We have emotions, feelings, struggles, pains, fears, anxieties, relational stress, authority issues… the list goes on. Jesus had the same things. Story after story throughout the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, & John in the Bible) reveal to us a man who had the same human condition as us and who had to find ways to live that were in accordance with the way God created us to live. Jesus wasn’t a superhero, he wasn’t a magician, he wasn’t a man who wore a mask that no one knew who he was. Jesus was out in the open, as human as the rest of us, but somehow He was more connected to the Divine aspect of life than what we have ever realized in our own lives.
- Jesus relates to us because he was God. Now this seems oxymoronic, counter-intuitive.. How could God relate to humanity? But that is because the Creator, in Jesus, became the created. The word for this is a big word.. “Incarnation”… It is a word that means that God took on flesh and pitched his tent among us. God has always been a mystery to us all. We can’t see him. We seemingly can’t fully know him. We certainly have a lot of questions for him. But in Jesus, we find a man who was fully human claiming to be something that is not fully human…God. Jesus is God. If you want to know who God is, then look at Jesus. Look at the way he spoke. Look at the things he did. Only God could do those things. Look at the way he lived. Simply, non-intrusive, pleasantly persistent, and not overly “extra”. Somehow, this man was able to live with an awakening that few of us have ever known. And this is how he relates to us. He, the Divine One, God in Heaven, comes down and enters our domain. He walks our sod. Feels our pain. Experiences our suffering. And relates to us personally. This is a powerful and meaningful truth.
- Jesus relates to us because he answers the questions regarding suffering, trouble, and pain. Jesus had a nickname… “the Suffering Servant”. His role as a human being and his role as God of all gods all came to visibility in the way that he suffered through his life in a noble and unwavering fashion. Jesus relates to us because he experienced the sting of death, the outpouring of human sinfulness, and the pain of living life here on earth. The answer to the questions about the suffering of good people here on earth are all summed up in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. You see, the answer to that very question is that there is more to this life than what you and I can see. There is more to the story than the one we’ve lived in. There is more to the story than the one we will die in. There is a bigger story being told. And we lack the capability of seeing the bigger story because all we can see is our own survival and our own story. But Jesus is here to tell you that He relates. There’s more to the story than death and pain, suffering and trouble. There’s even more to the story than victory and passion, dreams fulfilled and money made. The story continues because God is bringing the story to a climactic and glorious end. He is weeding out the faithful and the faithless. He is calling you to play a larger part in an epic story that He has been wooing you to join him in your whole life. He relates to you because he knows the questions you have about the suffering, the pain, the trouble… He allows the pain in your life because it is in the pain that you are able to meet Him. Were there no pain, you’d never look to the sky for relief. Were there no struggle, you’d never look to him for strength. Were there no suffering, you’d never look to him for healing. He wants to heal. He wants to give strength. He is offering you life. You just need to reach out and grab it for yourself. He gives it freely without requiring you to earn it.
I hope you’ve found this to be helpful for you in your journey of looking for how Jesus relates to you. There’s so much more to unpack here. I just wanted to introduce to you the idea that Jesus relates to us in more ways than one. Whatever you believe, I want to encourage you to not give up looking, searching, seeking after Jesus. He holds so many answers that are the key to life. Find community in relationship with a few of His followers. I’m not talking about attending church services. I mean actually being with people who are living life trying to know Him better and do life the way He would do it. Somewhere along the way, you will begin to see how Jesus actually does relate to you. And maybe then, you’ll learn how to start following Him too.
Thanks for hanging with me this far. It’s good to have some friends along the way!