Several years ago I was hiking in North Georgia when a stranger walked up to me, introduced himself, and said that he wanted to introduce me to his friend Jesus. I listened to him politely, but he didn't seem much interested in me, only that I would come to know his friend Jesus. Finally, I interrupted him and said that I knew Jesus as well and followed him to become a Presbyterian minister.
A few months later, a Presbyterian colleague of mine walked up to me and out of the blue said, "Kuhlhorst, I want to introduce you to my friend Jesus." I didn't wait to hear what he had to say or was as polite as I was to the stranger in the mountains. I simply said, "perhaps you could learn something about Jesus from me!" He stopped, laughed and said, "perhaps I could."
Who is Jesus and what does his life mean for us? Thousands of books have been written about Jesus since the gospels were circulated amongst the early Christians. My seminary education was filled with books attempting to answer the question who is Jesus and what does his life mean for us. One of the books I read was Albert Schweitzer's The Quest for the Historical Jesus. Schweitzer noted that Jesus' life and what it means to people changes with the times and often Jesus seems to resemble the person who is either writing or talking about Jesus. We project meaning onto Jesus just as we do with others.
This quote of Schweitzer's has resonated inside of me ever since I read it:
He comes to us as One unknown, without a name, as of old, by the lakeside, He came to those men who knew Him not. He speaks to us the same words: "Follow thou me!" and sets us to the tasks which He has to fulfill for our time. He commands. And to those who obey Him, whether they be wise or simple, He will reveal himself in the toils, the conflicts, the sufferings which they shall pass through in His fellowship, and, as an ineffable mystery, they shall learn in their own experience Who He is.
Beginning this Sunday during the Sunday school hour, I will be leading a 12 week discussion on who Jesus is and what his life means for us. We will be using Philip Yancey's, The Jesus I Never Knew curriculum. The material is rich and I trust the discussions will be spirited. I hope to see you there.