Have you ever been in New York City’s Central Park or in some other public place, where there are artists who offer to sketch your portrait for a price? If you give them a certain amount of money they’ll do it in a matter of minutes. Sometimes the sketch comes out great. There are other times, however, when it doesn’t even come close! The artist may get one of features right, such as the eyes, but the nose might be wrong. Actually, it is difficult to get an accurate, full portrait of someone so that you really have a true representation of what the person looks like.
Now I want to ask you another question: What is your picture of Jesus? I’m not talking about what he looked like, for no one knows that. But do you have a full portrait of his character and personality? Perhaps you have a blurry picture in your mind that represents only part of who he is. For example, someone might say, "I know who Jesus is. He’s the one who walks on the water and says to the waves, ‘Peace, be still.’ He’s the one who can make the storms of life cease!" While that is true, Jesus didn’t walk on water everyday. And that’s not all he did! That would therefore be a very simplistic view of Jesus.
That is an excerpt from the introduction to a recent sermon by Jim Cymbala, pastor of The Brooklyn Tabernacle in New York. (You may also know him for some of his books, such as Fresh Wind, Fresh Fire or The Power of Breakthrough Prayer.) The title of the sermon is “A Full Portrait of Christ,” and in it, Pastor Cymbala goes on to share six “snapshots” of Jesus from the Gospels that allow us to better know Him. Over the next six weeks, that message will be the text of Peace in the Storm, with one snapshot being presented each week. I hope you will enjoy the series.
And now, here is the conclusion of Pastor Cymbala’s introduction followed by the first passage of Scripture:
Many of us have a narrow, and sometimes very convenient, view of Him [Jesus]. We have a Jesus who fits our lifestyle instead of making our lifestyle fit Christ. You may wince a little as we go through these pictures of Jesus. You may say, “Oh, I never think about that Jesus.” But we must be honest and learn all we can about Christ.
The first snapshot is a Palm Sunday picture of Jesus:
"When he came near the place where the road goes down the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of disciples began joyfully to praise God in loud voices for all the miracles they had seen: ‘Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord! Peace in heaven, and glory in the highest!”’ (Luke 19:37-38)
Here we see Jesus riding into Jerusalem and receiving worship and praise as the Messiah: the Savior that was promised to Israel. That’s a wonderful picture of Jesus, for he is worthy to be praised.
However, we read that the Pharisees and other religious leaders got upset, saying, "Hey, your disciples are lifting up your name! Stop them! You’re a man; you shouldn’t be receiving praise!" What did Jesus reply? "If they keep quiet, the stones will cry out." (Luke 19:40)
This tells us that we should not be ashamed to lift our voices in praise and adoration when we worship Jesus together in our church gatherings, no matter what anyone might think. Yes, emotionalism is wrong; yes, fanaticism is wrong; but it is our privilege as believers to worship and praise Jesus! Some of us get excited over a good meal, or a bargain we have found at a store, and talk more about that than about our precious Lord and Savior Jesus Christ! Let us lift up his holy name so the rocks won’t have to cry out!
To obtain an audio tape of the message that appears in this issue or to get an archival listing of Pastor Cymbala’s sermon tapes, please call The Brooklyn Tabernacle at 718-290-2238. (This is not an advertisement.)