This devotional was originally published on November 3, 2017.
When I was a little kid, I loved exploring the world for hidden treasures. My best friend and I would search through overgrown fields, thorny wood thickets, and even damp sewers (Not a whole lot of treasures down there!) in search of cool artifacts. Mostly, our treasures consisted of people’s long-forgotten junk or literal garbage: old bottles, soda cans, or debris from construction sites. But every once in a while, we’d find something really amazing.
I remember one summer stumbling across a dusty old walkie-talkie. It was a fancy one, too. Other than a little dirt, it was in great condition, with cool buttons and clicking dials, and after adding a pair of fresh batteries, it actually worked! But, as epic of a find as it was, we quickly realized something: one walkie-talkie is pretty useless. I’d turn it on from time to time, thinking maybe I’d hear someone on the other end, but nope. Never anything more than static. So here was this awesome discovery, but it was incomplete. It would always need something more before it could truly be the treasure we had hoped for.
Well, we never found that other walkie-talkie, so our newly acquired toy just sat in a drawer somewhere, once again collecting dust. Sometimes I’m afraid our faith can be the same way: brimming with potential, but incomplete. Or even worse, totally discarded. I’ve heard many people across the world say that Jesus was a great teacher, or perhaps even a great prophet, but they stop there. And, as Christians, we’d say that we know better, that we know there’s more to Jesus than that. But do we really live that way?
The book of Hebrews goes a long way to show readers that Jesus was not just another prophet:
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
— Hebrews 1:1–4
It’s one thing to follow a prophet and do what they say (which would be a reasonable thing to do), but this passage makes it very clear that Jesus was much, much more: the heir of all things, an integral part of the very creation of the world, and (I love this description) “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” Wow. Do you see the huge crime of watering down Christ into anything less? And if we treat Jesus as if he is just a good teacher, do you see how much we are missing? It’s like reducing him to half of a pair of walkie-talkies, when he is infinitely more. And listen to how it describes his power: “he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” Can you fathom the power that is being described here? The entire universe is upheld by just the word of his power! And yet we’re content living with a weaker version of the Messiah.
I know there are times I have been guilty of it, living as though Christ is just a dispenser of good advice, the equivalent of a really insightful fortune cookie. The truth is that it’s easy for any of us to do that. And yet Jesus, by his very nature, has always been about being more. He was more than a prophet, more than a teacher. He showed more grace than we could ever imagine, more wisdom, more love. And, most importantly, he showed that he was more than religion. In many ways, religion was what the Jewish people had always had, a list of rules and observances to help them draw close to God. And in that same spirit, they were expecting Jesus to be the equivalent of just another priest of religion. But Scripture teaches us the opposite:
Now if [Jesus] were on earth, he would not be a priest at all, since there are priests who offer gifts according to the law. They serve a copy and shadow of the heavenly things. For when Moses was about to erect the tent, he was instructed by God, saying, “See that you make everything according to the pattern that was shown you on the mountain.” But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
— Hebrews 8:4–6
Did you catch it? Jesus’ ministry, what he offers, is much more excellent than anything they had ever experienced before. The old way of religion wasn’t bad or wrong, but what God wanted to do through Jesus was better, was more. In fact, the former religion was like serving a “shadow of the heavenly things.” It was like that one walkie-talkie: good, but lacking something. And then came Jesus to offer something much more. More than religion. He came to do the unthinkable: to save us from our sins and restore our relationship with the Father, even if it meant dying to do it. That’s way more than any prophet, teacher, priest or religion could ever do.
So, if you’ve never known Jesus as Lord and Savior, you’ve never known Jesus. Stop believing in an incomplete version. Believe in him fully today, and accept the beautiful gift of his unending grace. And for the rest of us who would say we do have faith, who started out by believing that truth, but somehow find ourselves forgetting the fullness of who Jesus is, it’s time to embrace the more of Jesus, especially if we ever hope for our lives to truly be more.
What if I had found two perfectly good walkie-talkies in that field that day, and then I just left one behind? What a waste! Don’t leave part of Jesus behind. He is the radiance of the glory of God, the Alpha and Omega, the heir of all things, the worthy Lamb. And that means there’s no limit to what he can do through our lives when we truly believe and follow him.