Let me tell you some stories. As the title may suggest, they are short. There’s a few of them but bear with me.
Story one. I went for a coffee with a friend of mine, a guy called Paul. Paul and I got chatting about Jesus…or to be more exact we were chatting about how to talk about Jesus…or to really more exact we got talking about how Jesus talks about himself. We realised that Jesus talks about himself with very different language in different contexts. End of story one. I told you they were very short stories.
Story two. There’s a woman who keeps committing adultery. Every man she is with disappoints her. She has a thirst but none of these guys satisfy. And then she meets Jesus. He says He is like living water and she’ll never thirst anymore. That’s story two finished.
Our third story. I was thinking about my chat with Paul while having a coffee with another friend. This friend had become a Christian a couple of years before. I asked him why he had become a Christian, what was it about Jesus that convinced him to follow. He said it probably wasn’t the understanding of sin or heaven or church or the big story of God. He simply saw in Jesus an answer to depression. He saw in Jesus a hope life could be better. Story three over.
Makes sense to tell story four next. This guy called Jesus is in the city of Jerusalem. It’s the last feast day of the year and it finishes with the priest pouring water on the temple’s alter and the people crying out to God to bring water for next year’s crop. They are focussed on the need for water and they all shout out “God save us! God save us! God save us!” As the crowd reaches crescendo Jesus stands up in front of everyone and let’s his voice boom over the crowd “If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” To a crowd calling for God to save, Jesus stuns everyone to silence and says “I Save!” End of Story four.
Moving on to story five. There’s an old hymn called “It is Well.” IT was written by a guy called Horatio Spafford. In 1871 his son died. In the same year the great fire of Chicago hit and his business and his life savings were wiped out. In 1873 his wife and daughters were shipwrecked and his four daughters drowned. He sailed out to meet his wife and sailed past the point where the shipwreck had occurred and he started penning his famous hymn. He wrote “When peace like a river, attendeth my way, when sorrows like sea billows roll; whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know, it is well, it is well, with my soul.” For Horatio Spafford Jesus was peace in the face of pain. Story five finishes there.
Story six. Jesus and Peter are walking along. Jesus throws Peter a question. “Who do you say I am?” Peter tells Jesus that some people think he’s Elijah and others John the Baptist and others say he is a prophet. I imagine at this point Jesus stops walking and turns to eyeball Peter. “That’s not what I asked you Peter, who do you say I am?” Peter pauses and then replies “You’re the Christ. The chosen one. The anointed King of Kings.” End of story six.
Our penultimate story. I was chatting with another friend of mine, a guy called Sean. Sean is involved in youthwork in Arizona. He regularly preaches to large groups of kids. He gets five minutes to share with them the good news. He got good at condensing the gospel into this bite sized chunk. However he also found this unsettling. He felt that the good news of Jesus was too richly vast, too colourfully panoramic, too mind-blowingly huge to be condensed into five minutes. End of story seven.
Story eight. The last one. There’s a guy called Paul who wrote loads of the New Testament. He wrote letters to various churches to give them encouragement and advice. Paul really gets Jesus. He really understands the gospel, the good news, of Jesus. In one of his letters (written to the Christians in Colossae) he keeps using the word “mystery.” He gets it better than most of us ever will and yet it is still mysterious to him. Even he can’t fully get his head around it. End of story eight.
And we’re finished with our stories. In all of these stories Jesus looks a bit different. It’s like he is being viewed through a different camera lens or a different Instagram filter. But he is still the same Jesus. I believe the good news of Jesus is so high, so, wide, so deep, so vast that whatever context or situation we find ourselves in, Jesus is still good news. We’ve been exploring some of this good news in different contexts in our sermon series at the Rock. If you’d like to hear more about this you can check out some of these sermons here.
For now, I think we’ll leave this idea here. We’ll be continuing this idea in our next few blog posts. We’ll explore who Jesus is to us, in our contexts, in our lives. So for now, the short stories are over. We’ll continue the story though. This story is far from short. It started before time began and extends deep into eternity.