Jesus First, Jesus Always Part I
by Pastor Jeffrey Smith
“What comes to our mind when we think of God is the most important thing about us.”
“I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”
We often like to think of Jesus as a meek, mild-mannered man with a lamb around his neck who told us to love our neighbor. However, there are other things that Jesus claimed about himself that were far from meek.
Jesus made claims about who he was that didn’t leave much room for interpretation. He made statements such as, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me...” (John 14:6).
He also said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). These aren’t open-ended questions or suggestions; they are objective claims that Jesus made about his identity. If we believe what Jesus said about himself, it shapes the way we view him and the way we follow him. Do you believe Jesus is who he claimed to be?
In prior centuries, there was a theory about vision that light emanated from our eyes, refracted off an object and then reflected back. This is simply not true. The opposite is true: light comes from an outside source to shine on objects so that our eyes can see them. The idea that light comes from within reflects our cultural perspective today. You hear words like “my truth” as if our vision and perception can define reality. Jesus, however, is saying that for us to receive truth, it has to come from him, by the light of his word, and through the Holy Spirit.
Who is Jesus to you? Is Jesus really first in your life? He said, “I am the alpha and the omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” He is saying I am the A, and the Z and everything in between.
Seeing Jesus in the light of who he claims to be is an invitation to a way of seeing the world the way it is meant to be seen. As a child, I didn’t realize the things I couldn’t see until I was prescribed a pair of glasses. Suddenly, I could see details that I had been missing around me. As I get older, my vision is constantly deteriorating, and I have to get new lenses every year.
What does it really mean to say, “Jesus First, Jesus Always?” It’s getting the “new lens” of vision that comes from him being first in our lives, instead of living the “me first, me always” life.
John 1:1-5 says “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
“Logos” is Greek for “the Word.” The word “logos” means the supreme answer for any question. When philosophers didn’t know the explanation for a phenomena, they would say, “it’s the logos.” John is saying that Jesus is the answer to every question. He is our creator and the means of our salvation.
In Luke chapter 9, we learn three things about how Jesus wants us to follow him. Three men expressed interest in following Jesus, and his responses to each of them give us parameters for how we are to follow him.
Jesus must come first before material possessions. In Luke 9, a man says to Jesus, “I will follow you where you go.” Jesus responded that “Foxes have dens and birds have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” Jesus challenges this guy and indicates that he likes his stuff too much to leave everything and follow him. Jesus tells this man that he isn’t ready to make him first.
Jesus must come first before responsibilities. Jesus talks to another man and says, “follow me.” The man asks if he can go bury his father first. This is not literal; his father is getting older and the man wanted to get his affairs in order before following Jesus. Jesus responds, "Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Jesus conveys that none of our earthly duties or responsibilities are to be put ahead of Jesus.
Jesus must come first before relationships. In a third encounter, another man says, “Let me go say goodbye to my family.” Jesus says, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.” Through this exchange, we hear Jesus say that even our families and relationships must come second to serving him.
Maybe you have been procrastinating putting Jesus first. You want to wait until you get your life together, wait until you get out of school, wait until you get married, wait until you have kids… But Jesus requires that we put him first above all else. He promises that when we seek him and his kingdom first, everything else will be added to us. Following Jesus means putting him first. Are you ready to count the cost and follow him?
Discussion/ Reflection Questions:
What do you believe about Jesus, and how does it define your life, your priorities, your worldview?
Do you believe Jesus is who he says he is?
Are you putting Jesus first before your material possessions, your responsibilities, and your relationships?
How can you grow in putting Jesus first in every area of your life?