I was sitting in the car, on my way to meet my church group, when I began thinking about this question: “Who is Jesus to me?” Our church group was about to start a “Back to Basics” study series, and it made me realise how everything I’ve learned and believe in as a Christian all goes back to Jesus. But in that moment, as I thought about what Jesus meant to me personally, I was drawing a blank.
I knew that If I wanted to give an answer straightaway, I could simply state the “obvious”—Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Messiah, sent by God to save us from our sins. But knowing that in my head is one thing, and seeing it with my heart is another.
What does it mean, Jesus being my Saviour—and what does that look like in my everyday life?
As someone who grew up in Sunday School, I often struggle to experience the full impact of the Bible. I am familiar with many passages and it’s easy to recite some of them from memory, but experiencing what I know in my daily life is not something that always follows.
Even so, I also know that the reason I still have my faith is because He is always at work in me. Looking back, I have gone through many times of despair—long periods of struggle in my studies, work, and relationship, all rife with uncertainty—and I know I could not have soldiered through them on my own. In the moments when doubts linger and persist, His word always pierces through, and He always sends people to remind me that I am not alone, that the worst is not the end, and that He is still faithful and sovereign and good.
And so, through the many seasons of dryness and darkness, this is who Jesus has revealed Himself to be:
1. The one who satisfies my thirst with His living water
Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them. (John 7:37-38)
. . . whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life. (John 4:14)
Nothing quenches thirst like water. But we don’t always choose it because we are easily drawn to (or distracted by) alternatives (in my case it’s always coffee!) that seem to satisfy but in fact don’t give the same benefits.
But more than my physical thirst, I am aware of the emotional and spiritual thirst I feel—the need for affirmation, affection, and control. The incessant need to be told that I am doing things right, that things will be okay. Whatever I manage to accomplish, it always feels inadequate; I always feel like I could do better, especially when I see others who are able to do more.
Until Jesus brings me back to the living water. Again and again. Through Scripture and in song, in prayer and in words of rebuke, comfort, and encouragement, He reminds me that all the efforts I’ve made to satisfy this gnawing need has not been and will never be enough.
Then He says: “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on him God the Father has placed his seal of approval” (John 6:27, italics mine).
This food is Jesus Himself, which we receive by faith, by knowing Him and believing in Him and inviting Him to take control of our lives. We ask, we trust, and so we receive.
There are many things I’ve sought after and worked hard for have become ‘passé’ after some time—friends who have become distant acquaintances on Facebook, graduating with honors that quickly became irrelevant after working a couple of years, a high-paying first job that I’m not sure still exists, books I helped create and publish that no longer sell.
But with Jesus, the buck stops here. What He has done for me will last. What He promises me will keep. He is the same yesterday, today, forever.
I’ve learned that coming to Jesus to drink and be satisfied isn’t a one-time thing, but a daily exercise—to repeatedly go back to His words and recite and preach them to myself, to meditate on lyrics of songs, such as “Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus”, “Yet Not I but Through Christ in Me”, “In Christ Alone”, so that I’m reminded to build my life on what truly matters.
2. The one who lights up my darkness
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. (John 1:4-5)
I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (John 8:12)
The past year has been a dark year. The pandemic has not only made things difficult, it has magnified longstanding issues of inequality and injustice across the world. There have been days when it feels like the darkness will overcome, when it feels impossible to get a glimpse of the light at the end of the tunnel. When will suffering end? When will peace come? These are questions that continue to linger in our thoughts, even as we enter a ‘new year’ and hope against hope that things will get better.
I am currently in a transition period in my life and am faced with these two big uncertainties—not knowing when my next job will come, and when I will see my family again given the travel restrictions. These days, whenever I find myself sitting in the dark, not knowing what to do, too afraid to make the next move, Jesus steps in to shed light and give me hope. In response to my fears, He says to me, “my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” (John 14:27).
When my mind becomes clouded, I am reminded to go out and look—at the lush beauty of gardens and forests, the calming rush of the waves, the glorious lights of a magnificent sunset. I see these creations of God, and I am moved by the majesty of it all. As Psalm 8:3-4 describes:
When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?
If the God of all creation is the one who holds together all that I see, then I can rest in the knowledge that He’ll also take care of me.
3. The one who is the source of my hope and life
In the beginning was the Word…
The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1, 14)
How am I really experiencing Jesus as the source of living water and of light? It really goes back to seeing who He is in His Word. Certainly, we can experience Jesus in the circumstances we’re in, the emotions we feel, or the people we encounter. But all of these are prone to change, and without His Word as our anchor and guide, we’re bound to become confused and lost in the sea of change.
As I continue to reflect on these characteristics and gifts of Jesus, I know that there will be times when who Jesus is may not always be as clear and tangible to me as it is now, whether because of the limitations of my mind and body, or my changing circumstances. But I know I will always have His Word as a lamp and a guide, and I have His body—the Church—to help me see Him more clearly when my understanding fails, and to uphold me in prayer and speak words of encouragement to point me back to Christ. And I want to remain rooted in these to keep my faith.
Knowing who Jesus is to me gives me the strength to get up and face each day, knowing that He has saved me, and continues to save me every day from the pit of self-pity, fear, and despair. If I truly trust that Jesus satisfies and gives me peace, I can go ahead and do what is in front of me—whether it’s sending out another round of applications or doing yet another load of laundry—I can choose to be faithful in the smallest things. My satisfaction and security will not depend on a favourable outcome but on Jesus and what His Word says about who I am.
If you are struggling to see who Jesus is in your everyday life, here’s my prayer for you:
. . . that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened
in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you,
the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people,
and his incomparably great power for us who believe. (Ephesians 1:18)