The Hidden Life Of Jesus
By Johnny Tatum
The purpose of reading a record of Jesus of Nazareth’s thought life is to know about Him, to understand what He was thinking, to know how He thought, and to know what He was praying to His Father. Why? Something supernatural happens: we start becoming like Him!
#1) DISCOVERING A RECORD OF JESUS’ THOUGHT LIFE
Something that has always intrigued me is how the Old Testament works together with the New Testament; and what really intrigues me is that apparently there are some things that are not meant to be obvious.
Consider the appearance of Jesus—after His crucifixion and resurrection—to two disciples traveling on the road to Emmaus. Jesus appears and walks alongside the disciples, but the do not recognize Him:
And it came about that they were conversing and discussing, Jesus Himself approached, and began traveling with them. But their eyes were prevented from recognizing Him. (Luke 24:15-16)
Then the text says that Jesus opened their minds so that they could understand where He was in the Scriptures (the Old Testament):
And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?” And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures…And their eyes were opened and they recognized Him. (Luke 24:25-27, 31)
This story has intrigued me for years, because I tend to think that finding Jesus in the Old Testament is obvious. However, if that were true, then why did Jesus have to open the eyes of the two disciples for them to see where He was in the Scriptures? I think there are passages about Jesus that are hidden jewels in the Old Testament; and it was those types of passages concerning Himself that He opened up to the disciples’ minds.
Question: Why Do We Want To Find Jesus In The Text And Learn About Him?
Many books have been written about knowing God, which often exhort the reader, not to know Jesus, but to know God the Father. There is nothing wrong with those books; however, in John 14, Jesus says to Phillip:
“If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him…He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” (John 14:7, 9)
In actuality, we cannot know God the Father without knowing Jesus.
In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul says:
We have the mind of Christ. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
We have the mind of Christ living within us, but we do not tap into it; we still use our old minds—the ones that keep getting us into trouble. The Bible tells us that the way to learn how to do this in one situation, and to do that in another situation, is to draw on the mind of Christ who knows all situations and let Him do the thinking for us.
How do we get into that position in our lives where we tap into the mind of Christ? [It is a way that is so simple that it can be hard for us to grasp—] We go to the Bible and learn about Christ Jesus’ mind; and in a miraculous way, His mind becomes accessible to us.
You Have To Agree: Instead of memorizing every possible scenario in life and then figuring out what to do in each situation, it is a lot easier to say Jesus is omniscient, Jesus is omnipresent, Jesus lives within me; therefore, I would rather Jesus make all the calls (decisions).
In Philippians 3:5-6, the apostle Paul lists the great accomplishments of his own life: he was of the nation of Israel – circumcised the eighth day – from the tribe of Benjamin – a Hebrew of Hebrews – a Pharisee [who studied under Gamaliel] – righteous according to the Law. Then in verse 7, Paul says something that is amazing:
But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ, (Philippians 3:7)
Paul points to the one thing that is a priority in his life as a born again believer I will give up everything just for this one thing.
Think About It: If you are going to list one thing—you cannot name five, or fifty, just one—what would be the highest thing that you, as a believer in Christ Jesus, could accomplish or have? I would say something like Eternal life. No, believers already have eternal life. Okay, Heaven. No, believers already have a secure future in heaven.
What is the one thing that Paul says?
More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord (Philippians 3:8)
Knowing Christ Jesus is the number one priority in Paul’s life.
that I may know Him…
Paul does not say That I may know about Him or That I may know more about Him on the Cross; nor does he say Obeying or Trying to do better or Trying to grow spiritually. Paul says Knowing Christ Jesus. Then he adds:
and the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10)
Paul is not saying that he wants to know two things, as follows: (1) I want to know Him and also (2) I want to know the fellowship of His suffering. That little word and is called an hendiadys (Greek figure of speech in which two connotative words/phrases are connected by a conjunction, but express one single notion); Paul means the way to know Jesus is to know the fellowship of His sufferings. If you know the fellowship of Jesus’ sufferings, then you know Him.
About what kind of sufferings is Paul talking? Is he talking about Jesus’ sufferings at the Cross? Certainly not, because there is no way we could fellowship with that suffering; we had no part in that private, secret transaction between the Father and the Son. Also, we cannot fellowship with Jesus at the Cross, because there is only darkness at the Cross. [I believe-] Paul means the sufferings we go through being confined to our human bodies in this fallen world. Paul wants to know Christ Jesus, and the way he wants to know Him is to understand the sufferings that Jesus went through and how they relate to me as a person.
Here, the word fellowship is a word that means household. That is strange: And the household of His sufferings. This is also [somewhat] a figure of speech in the Greek language. Paul was saying that the way for a body of believers in Jesus to be knit together is for everyone together to understand His sufferings. In another words, if every believer seeks to know Christ Jesus as his number one priority, then fellowship just happens. It is the household of His sufferings that knits us together.
Years ago the spokes on my bicycle needed adjusting. Based on my expert mechanical abilities, I knew it would be quite a challenge; therefore, I referred to a book about bicycles. The author emphasized It is important that all the spokes be adjusted to each other. Quickly, I turned the bicycle upside down and I began to adjust each spoke. I thought This is great; I just have to turn, adjust, turn, adjust, turn, adjust… However, when I returned to the first spoke, it was out of alignment. This went on all day long—turn, adjust, turn, adjust, turn, adjust, first spoke out—not that it bothered me much! Finally, at some point [in that long day], I picked up my handy-man bicycle book and I turned the page The way to get the spokes in relationship with each other is to make sure the spokes are all in the right relationship to the axle. Okay, back at my bicycle, I tightened each spoke, one by one, and this time I adjusted each spoke to the axle. Do you know what the end result was? Each spoke was in line with all the other spokes.
Application: That is the way it is for believers in Christ Jesus to have fellowship: for each individual, his number one priority is to know Christ Jesus. To fellowship together we do not have to be better believers; we do not have to fabric fellowship with each other; we do not even have to try to grow spiritually. Paul says it is: knowing Jesus and fellowship will occur.
In Philippians 3, Paul says:
What is the prize? I have heard people say that everything Paul did was for crowns, but I do not think he got beaten with rods and stoned for heavenly crowns. In Paul’s mind, what was the ultimate prize in his life?
of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 3:14)
For Paul, just knowing Christ Jesus more and more was a magnet drawing him from right here in this life to heaven.
Question: Where Do We Find Jesus In The Bible?
Each of the four books emphasizes a different aspect of Jesus, as follows:
Through the Gospel accounts, we read more than just the biography of Jesus of Nazareth; we learn that He is the Son of God, Israel’s promised Messiah (Christ), and our Savior (Redeemer). What a gift we have been given!
We can look at Old Testament passages of what Jesus was thinking and correlate them with New Testament passages of events in His life. In the long section of Isaiah, Chapters 49 through 53, and in some of the messianic Psalms, we read the following:
Jesus’ thoughts are somewhat hidden, but the unveiling process is logical. For example, about whom is Isaiah 53:5 speaking?—
He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well being fell upon Him,
And by His stripes we are healed.
There is no question whatsoever that this passage is speaking about Jesus.
Similarly, we can say the same thing for Isaiah 49, which like Isaiah 53, is speaking of Jesus, as we see in verse 6:
He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the nations
So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”
Okay, let us keep thinking. If Isaiah 49 is speaking of Jesus and His thoughts, and if Isaiah 53 is speaking of Jesus and His thoughts, then it makes sense that what is between those two chapters (–Isaiah 50 –Isaiah 51 –Isaiah 52) also presents Jesus and His thoughts. That is the premise upon which I am drawing.
I believe we can find specific match ups of what Jesus was thinking (found in Old Testament passages) with events in His life (found in the New Testament Gospels). In the Gospels, it is recorded that Jesus—who is on the Cross—says:
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34)
If we go back to Psalm 22, we see those very same words:
“My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” (Psalm 22:1)
In Psalm 22, we also read some of Jesus’ thoughts behind those words. Putting those concepts together, we understand that we go back to Isaiah, to the messianic Psalms, and to other Old Testament passages to find out what Jesus was thinking during critical parts of His life.
As we go through Jesus’ life and unveil His thoughts, we will begin to know Him more intimately than ever before—His character will strike us!
Question: What Is Our Application?
God has a drastically different plan for changing our lives than what we would come up with. I do not know about you, but when I think of application I tend to think of things to do, of things not to do. We tend to say Now that I am saved, I had better start living right. [Hello! If we could live right, we would not need a Savior.] However, the more I study the Bible, the more I am impressed by that is not at all what God means by application.
In John 15, Jesus tells us:
“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart form Me you can do nothing. If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.” (John 15:5, 7)
What does it mean to abide in Him? How do you do it; do you just hang around? I grew up hearing sermons about abiding; it was explained that abiding meant to live in Him, to stay with Him, or it meant to trust in Him and to get to know Him. However, if abiding in Him means just knowing Him, then why do we not all experience the miraculous promises that are especially based on this passage?
Jesus is not saying do two things: abide in Me and also let My word abide in you. The word and is an hendiadys; abiding in Him means letting Jesus’ word live in us. The way to abide in Jesus is not to go to a mountaintop and say a mantra; the way to abide in Him is simply by letting Jesus’ words stay in our consciousness.
Jesus’ Analogy Of The Vine: A vine, of course, draws its nourishment from the roots down in the soil, and every branch draws on that sap, which comes up from the ground to the bottom of that plant. One cannot see the nourishment process; it is invisible when looking at the plant from the outside.
In Isaiah 55, the prophet Isaiah talks about God’s ways and our ways, God’s thoughts and our thoughts:
“My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways, declares the LORD.” (Isaiah 55:8)
By nature, human beings do not think like God and human beings do not act like God. Why not? Because human beings are in a different realm…
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways And My thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9)
By nature, God is not approachable by human beings, because our ways and our thoughts are not like His; however, we do not give up—
For as the rain and the snow come down form heaven, And do not return there without watering the earth And making it bear and sprout, And furnishing seed to the sower and bread to the eater; So will My word be which goes forth from My mouth; It will not return to Me void, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Isaiah’s Analogy Of Rain: How high is the sky from grass? It is a long way. Is there a connection between the sky and the grass? Yes, there is a connection between the two: from the sky, rain comes down and goes all the way down to the grass. What happens to the grass? It drinks up that water, it gets nourishment from the soil, and it grows. Where? Toward heaven. That is how God’s word is to us: it is like rain. God’s word comes down to us like rain, and what do we do? We grow. In which direction do we grow? Toward God. What role does the grass play? It just drinks.
God says My word will not return to Me empty, void. It will succeed in the matter for which I sent it. God is saying that He sends His word to us—He gives His word to us—and we just soak it in. Who is responsible for our growth? God is!
Application: God’s plan for changing our lives is as follows:
It is as simple as that.
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We express our deepest appreciation to Mitchell and Dawn Kolodin for their excellent work in transcribing and editing the entire Hidden Life of Jesus series.
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