It's not hard to picture Jesus as we've seen him in countless Bible studies, church Easter pageants, and in several motion picture films. Jesus heals people of diseases and disabilities, teaches enormous crowds, and eventually dies on a cross. It's even quite possible for us to picture Jesus as our resurrected Lord, and our glorified Savior in heaven. But as we "fix our eyes upon Jesus," what of the prelude to it all? What about the Jesus of the very beginning? What about the Jesus who was intimately involved in the very creative process of all things? Have you thought recently how all of Creation bears witness to Jesus?
The more we focus on Jesus, the more there is to see, and the more we realize we'll never see it all. That, of course, is also true about Creation.
Illustration: In A Short History of Nearly Everything, Bill Bryson marvels at what makes up human life:
No one really knows, but there may be as many as a million types of protein in the human body, and each one is a little miracle. By all the laws of probability proteins shouldn't exist. To make a protein you need to assemble amino acids…in a particular order, in much the same way that you assemble letters in a particular order to spell a word. [For example, to make collagen,] you need to arrange 1,055 amino acids in precisely the right sequence….
The chances of a 1,055-sequence molecule like collagen spontaneously self-assembling are, frankly, nil. It just isn't going to happen. To grasp what a long shot its existence is, visualize a standard Las Vegas slot machine but broadened greatly - to about ninety feet, to be precise - to accommodate 1,055 spinning wheels instead of the usual three or four, and with twenty symbols on each wheel (one for each common amino acid). How long would you have to pull the handle before all 1,055 symbols came up in the right order? Effectively forever. Even if you reduced the number of spinning wheels to two hundred, which is actually a more typical number of amino acids for a protein, the odds against all two hundred coming up in a prescribed sequence are 1 in 10260 (that is 1 followed by 260 zeros). That in itself is a larger number than all the atoms in the universe.
Yet we are talking about several hundred thousand types of protein, perhaps a million, each unique and each, as far as we know, vital to the maintenance of a sound and happy you. (Citation: Bill Bryson, "The Rise of Life", A Short History of Nearly Everything, pp. 288-289.)
Illustration: An atheist was walking through the woods, admiring all the "accidents" that evolution had created. "What majestic trees! What powerful rivers! What beautiful animals!" he said to himself.
As he was walking alongside the river, he heard a rustling in the bushes behind him. Turning to look, he saw a 7-foot grizzly bear charge towards him. He ran away as fast as he could up the path.
He looked over his shoulder and saw the grizzly was closing. Somehow he ran even faster, so scared that tears came to his eyes. He looked again, and the bear was even closer. His heart was pounding, and he tried to run faster. He tripped and fell to the ground. He rolled over to pick himself up, but the bear was right over him, reaching for him with its left paw and raising its right paw to strike him.
At that instant the atheist cried, "Oh my God!"
Time stopped. The bear froze. The forest was silent. Even the river stopped moving.
As a bright light shone upon the man, a voice came out of the sky, "You deny my existence for all these years, teach others that I don't exist, and even credit creation to a cosmic accident. Do you expect me to help you out of this predicament? Am I to count you as a believer?"
The atheist looked directly into the light and said, "I would feel like a hypocrite to become a Christian after all these years, but perhaps you could make the bear a Christian?"
"Very well," said the voice.
The light went out. The river ran. The sounds of the forest resumed. Then the bear dropped his right paw, brought both paws together, bowed its head, and spoke: "Lord, for this food which I am about to receive, I am truly thankful."
Illustration: I am reminded of the story of the discussion at church camp for children where one of the counselors was leading a discussion on the purpose God has for all of his creation.
They began to find good reasons for the clouds and trees and rocks and rivers and animals and just about everything else in nature.
Finally, one of the children asked, "If God has a good purpose for everything, then why did He create poison ivy?" This made the discussion leader gulp and, as he struggled with the question, one of the other children piped up, "The reason God made poison ivy is that He wanted us to know that there are certain things we should keep our cotton-pickin' hands off of!"
I. Jesus had the key role in creation
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. John 1:1-3 (HCSB)
In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. Hebrews 1:1-2
This will never fly in the higher circles of academics, of course. The battle over evolution and creation is very often a battle over religion. If evolution can be proved the correct answer as to how things accidentally came to be, then we can write God off. We can take God right out of the picture. But, my friends, taking God out of the Creation story is a mighty big task.
Illustration: Sir Isaac Newton had a perfectly scaled down replica of the then known solar system built for his studies. A large golden ball represented the sun at the center, and the known planets revolved around it through a series of cogs, belts, and rods. It was an incredible machine. One day while Newton was studying his model, an agnostic friend stopped by for a visit. The man marveled at the machinery and asked, "Who made this exquisite thing?" Without looking up, Newton replied, "Nobody." "Nobody?" his friend asked. "That's right," said Newton, "all of these balls and cogs and belts and gears just happened to come together, and wonder of wonders, by chance they began revolving in their set orbits with perfect timing."
Newton made his point that day, but the battle still rages.
When God asks a person to believe the Bible's message, God is not asking that person to leave his or her brain at the coat check desk. God must thrill to the discoveries scientists make. He must laugh out loud at the first eye to spot a new universe through the eye piece of the Hubble. God the Creator loves for his Creation to discover more about itself, for all of Creation is a testimony to the Creator's glory.
And the Bible says Jesus was right at the heart of all that creative power. In fact, the Bible claims Jesus was the agent of creation when God created all things. Believing that is a matter of faith, but it's not that big of a stretch. If you want to be stretched in the area of your faith … just believe that all of Creation happened by accident!
II. All creation points to Jesus
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:15-17
All things were created by him ... and for him.
Why were all things created for Jesus? Did he need another waterfall, an extra million stars, or a thundering herd of buffalo storming across an empty continent? No, the purpose of Creation is to point to Jesus. All of it, in its created glory, is a testimony to the power, the wonder, and the incredible beauty of our Savior.
Illustration: Musician Michael Card said in an interview:
Again and again in China I talked to people who had never heard of Christianity, never heard of Jesus, never heard a single word from the Bible. Yet through nature and their God-given conscience, many believed in God. Not only did they believe God existed, they had derived some understanding about His loving character because he provided food, water, and a beautiful world. One old woman told me, "I've known him for years. I just didn't know his name." Citation: Michael Card, from interview in Discipleship Journal (Nov/Dec 2002), p. 72.
You might try to pull something off this week before we meet again. Find a way to re-discover this creation that points to Jesus. Perhaps you can get out in a rural area on a clear night, and just spend some time with the stars. Take a walk near a stream of water, and pay attention to the incredible detail in a single square foot of water. Check out a book or a teaching video on recent discoveries in DNA research. Visit the web site of the Hubble Space Telescope, and flip through the most amazing photographs a camera has ever taken.
When you get lost in the wonder of it, remember this point … that it all points to Jesus. And right there, worship him. Tell Jesus what a great job he did with it all! Give him praise. Break out into another round of "How Great Thou Art." Read Psalm 8 out loud.
All of Creation points to Jesus, and you and I are created beings. Let us point to Jesus, too!
III. Jesus' life was proof of his power over creation
The disciples must have been stunned repeatedly with the way Jesus could heal the sick, give sight to the blind, or make the lame dance for joy. But when Jesus exercised power over nature - over Creation - it terrified them. Nothing displayed his power quite like his power over nature.
Perhaps the most famous incident came when Jesus sent his tired disciples ahead of him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. During a storm that night, Jesus came to his men in the wee hours of the night, walking on the water!
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. "It's a ghost," they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: "Take courage! It is I. Don't be afraid." "Lord, if it's you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water." "Come," he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!" Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?" And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God." Matthew 14:25-33 (HCSB)
Despite the disciples' inability to walk on water - or even the courage to get out of the boat - they never forgot the days when Jesus showed them his power over Creation. It must have shocked them when a few soldiers arrested Jesus, tortured him, and crucified him. Did they wonder: Couldn't the man who calmed a storm at sea also find a way to escape an execution? Certainly they did go through such thoughts. Eventually, they would understand that the cross was a place of power, too.
IV. You can find the rest you need in Jesus
Whatever causes you stress, all of Creation points to Jesus and says: "Give it to him." Whatever causes you difficulty, all of Creation, and the very life of Jesus, says, "Give it to him."
What a great relief to realize that it's not up to you to keep the world spinning, or to even keep your life moving in the right direction. If Jesus was powerful enough to create all life, and if it all holds together to bring him glory, then it makes sense to trust Jesus to run things now.
Therefore, since the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us be careful that none of you be found to have fallen short of it. For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest ... Hebrews 4:1-3 (HCSB)
And what a verse for those sea-tossed disciples: Heb. 6:19 - We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.
Caught in a storm, the disciples wanted an anchor that would hold them firm and secure. They wanted safety in a dangerous time. They wanted to feel rock-solid ground underneath their feet. They wanted to stop the furious rowing, the furious battle to stay alive, and just go to bed. Just rest at home.
In Jesus, they found it all. The storm stilled, the boat was suddenly at the shore. And they really knew nothing else to do … except to worship the One who made it possible.
If Jesus is the Creator of all things, isn't there none above Him?
If Jesus still controls all Creation, isn't there none greater than Him?
If Jesus offers rest for all of those with enough faith to trust Him, wouldn't it be wise to take it?
Confess Him. Trust Him. Stay fixed upon him.
Peter had enough wisdom to get out of the boat, but he didn't have enough courage to keep his eyes fixed upon Jesus.
You're already distracted. Life has a way of distracting us. Stay focused. No matter what swirls around you today, keep your eyes fixed upon Jesus. Him only. Him only.