Summary: If you could use a single word to define Jesus what would it be? Love comes to mind, maybe forgiving, merciful, kind? How about the Word “grace”?
What Does Jesus Look Like?
(For “Mirror Image” Series March 25, 2007)
If you could use a single word to define Jesus what would it be? Love comes to mind, maybe forgiving, merciful, kind? How about the Word “grace”?
Great word – grace.
I have said a number of times that I long to pastor a “supernatural church”. Sometimes I say things, and then ask myself later, “What did you really mean when you said that?”
I have thought about that statement, “I want to Pastor a supernatural church”. And here’s what I believe I meant by that:
I want to pastor a church that is built on grace.
Not just grace in general; but the grace of God that has been expressed in the life and teaching and death and resurrection of his son Jesus Christ.
A church where Jesus Christ is the head - never any person or human personality. And the primary gift that church has to offer our world isn’t programs or services or ministries or facilities or resources, it’s grace. It’s the grace we receive from God that we have to give.
In 2 Corinthians 12:7-10 Paul has been writing about some extraordinary spiritual experiences that he’s had.
Then he says this: "To keep me from becoming conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given me a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weakness so that Christ’s power might rest on me. That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weakness, in insults, in hardships and persecutions and difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong."
Paul says there was given to me a thorn in my flesh.
When you came in today you were each given a thorn. I am going to ask everybody take your thorn and hold it in your hand.
I want to talk to you about thorns for a moment.
A thorn is something that causes pain. If you have ever had a thorn in your flesh, it is something you’d like very much not to be there.
The Greek word that Paul used for thorn could be translated as stake and some New Testament scholars think that’s he’s using a very striking image of a stake that’s being driven into his body.
At any rate, Paul says he’s got this real painful deal that he’d like to get rid of - it’s a thorn.
Over the centuries there have been many theories about what exactly Paul’s thorn consisted of because he doesn’t actually say. Luther and Calvin thought it was certain temptations that he suffered.
Some people think that it stands for the persecutions that Paul had to go through.
Some other theories are more physical – that he suffered from epilepsy or malaria or a speech defect. Some believe that Paul suffered from an eyesight defect.
Paul writes in 2 Corinthians that some of his opponents would say this about him: “Paul’s letters are real deep. His letters are weighty and impressive but in person not so much. His physical appearance, his body, is very unimpressive.”
The oldest physical description we have of Paul goes back to the 2nd century. It may or may not be accurate but it’s the oldest one we have. This is how the writer describes Paul: “Paul was small in stature, bald headed, bow-legged, a vigorous physique with meeting eyebrows” (The term ‘unibrow’ mean anything to you?) and a slightly hooked nose.”
Paul had a thorn. It was embarrassing and it was humiliating and he desperately wanted to get rid of it.
Maybe the reason what the thorn is isn’t spelled out here is so that we can all identify with Paul. We can all think maybe his thorn is like our thorn.
Because here’s the truth – everybody has a thorn.
Your thorn is that place in your life where you feel most vulnerable or broken or defeated. You’d like to pretend it’s not there.
•Maybe it’s a difficult marriage or a broken or damaged relationship.
•Maybe it’s a physical disability that’s endured by you or somebody in your family.
•Maybe your thorn is an addictive desire you or some has.
•Maybe it’s a struggle with depression or loneliness.
I don’t know what it is, but I know you have one, I also know that nobody gets to choose their thorns.
Recently I read about a Pastor who had a thorn. He had just started - getting involved in teaching and preaching and sensing that it might be some area of calling for him.