There are many ‘greats’ of history that we love to look at. People whose lives have made a difference in the history of the world, people we love to study and figure out what made them tick, what made them significant, whether their significance was for good or evil. Then there are those we look not so much at, but to. They inspire us, they make us want to change, to be better people ourselves. These are people who are not just worthy of our study, but indeed our emulation. As a bass player I have always looked to John Entwhistle from my favourite band “The Who”. Ever since watching The Who’s farewell tour in 1982 (the same year I started playing bass), his style and standard of playing has been the goal I set for myself, and of course never reached. However, looking at his life, and at his death (involved cocaine and adultery), I’d rather not look to him as worthy of emulation!
People relate to Jesus in these same ways. Some look at Jesus, studying him, trying to figure him out. We see this in the Pharisees and Saducees and teachers of the law in the Gospels. They were looking at Jesus trying to figure out who he was, how and why he was doing what he was doing, and ultimately how to get rid of him. People still study Jesus today with much the same intent including how to ‘get rid of him’ or minimize His influence. Then there are those who look to Jesus. They are inspired by Jesus’ example of compassion, morality, and keen sense of justice among other things. They follow his example and strive to be like him as best they can. We can think of the disciples while they travelled with Jesus as examples of those who look to Jesus as well as many people today, manyof whom would go by the name ‘Christian.’
But there is another way to relate to Jesus. Rather than merely looking at Jesus, or even looking to Jesus, we can now walk with Jesus and with Jesus within. This is altogether better and made possible by the event we call Pentecost (see Acts chapter 2), when the Holy Spirit was given, indwelling the believers then, and ever since. It is interesting to compare the disciples before and after Pentecost. Before Pentecost, when their relationship with Jesus could be described as that of looking to Him, they were striving but often struggling. They lacked confidence, they all fled at a crucial hour. Peter, the most vocal of the bunch, and the most vocal of his loyalty to Jesus become the most vocal in his denial. But following Pentecost there was a new confidence not seen before. They were no longer striving to be like the one they looking to, they were now showing success at being like the one they are walking with though the Holy Spirit. Peter lived and died for Jesus with great passion. What a change!
And what a change that can make for us. If the Christian life seems like a struggle at times, it may be time to check our relationship with Jesus. We might find that we are merely looking to Jesus, or worse, at him, when through the ministry of the Holy Spirit we have the opportunity to walk with Jesus and with the recognition of Him within. We may find that we are striving to follow the example of Jesus when we are called to follow Jesus himself. We might also add that you can look at, or to Jesus without ever uttering a prayer. But walking with Jesus begins with prayer and continues with prayerfulness.
Jesus is not just one of the ‘greats,’ the people we love to look at and sometimes to. He is ‘The Great One,’ who makes his home in our (not-so-great-sometimes) hearts through the Holy Spirit. He is the One we walk with, with Him within. What a wonderful opportunity. What a wonderful Saviour and Lord we serve!