The only reason I bring this subject up is, because in my journey to rediscover truth, I did find not everything is as being told, as being assumed, as being taught. The, if I am honest with myself I should seriously ask, what kind of relationship do I have with Jesus? From what I gathered so far, most people know the facts about his life, and the very dedicated ones, exhaustively, thoroughly study commentaries and scriptures in thinking the truth is found by speculative or abstract reasoning. If God would be found by deeper studies, the Pharisees would be far ahead of the game, and to those Jesus himself said, as you can read in Matthew 23, But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, you hypocrites! — Woe to you, blind guides, and so forth. In Nazareth for example, the people knew who Jesus’ parents were. They heard reports about his preaching and his miracles, and they were thrilled to have him come for a visit. But they didn’t know him as well as they thought. He announced, “No prophet is accepted in his hometown” (Luke 4:24). And when Jesus started to tell them what needed to change, the people of Nazareth tried to kill him. So, what exactly is the trigger to determine, I know him, or I thought I know him? If those who thought they knew him, would be willing to kill him, after they found they did not know him, should tell us something.
Just knowing the facts about Jesus doesn’t change my condition, which needs complete transformation. It will not work integrating him into our lifestyle, our warmly charged fellowship, our so called good works we perform, our material success we credit him for. BUT, is that what Jesus is after?
In simple terms, knowing about someone means having knowledge of certain facts about him while knowing a person means having a relationship with him. Knowing about someone is a familiarity with a public persona that may make one person feel closer to another, but is not founded in actual relationship. For example, most of us know about particular actors, political figures, or popular speakers, celebrities, sport super stars, and so forth. Perhaps we are aware of some of their favorite things or we know humorous stories regarding their lives or their families. We may even feel a certain affinity for them. But the truth of the matter is, most of us do not actually know these people. Were we to see them face-to-face, they would have no idea who we are. Apart from stories and facts they’ve shared in the public arena, we don’t actually know their character or personality. We understand the difference between knowing about a celebrity and actually knowing him. What we may not realize is the same distinction can be applied when talking about “knowing” Jesus.
Jesus is a central figure in history across the globe. People have heard about Him and know a lot about Him, but sadly not as many actually know Him. Jesus Himself said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness'” (Matthew 7:21–23). Jesus was not a mere teacher for people to imitate nor did He come to bring a slogan to use. He is God incarnate and Savior of the world. He invites people into active relationship with Him. John 15 is all about abiding in Christ. In John 17 Jesus talked about wanting to have His followers with Him. Jesus wants us to actually know Him, and He wants to know us. His perfect life, death, and resurrection has provided a way for us to be reconciled with God, to be rescued from the penalty and power of sin and come into relationship with Him.
Of course it is important to know about Jesus, just as we know about our friends and family members. But it is vital to actually know Him. We get to know Him by listening to the things He says (reading His Word and listening through prayer), sharing our hearts with Him (prayer), doing the things He likes to do (obedience), worshipping Him, and spending time with others who also know Him (Christian fellowship). The amazing thing is that God has not left us alone in this. He desires to be known. Thus He has given us His Word. He has also given all who believe in Him the Holy Spirit to indwell us. In John 14:15–17 Jesus says, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, for he dwells with you and will be in you.”
Knowing Jesus and having a personal relationship with Him is far different than studying and knowing about Jesus. Through studying a person, we may be able to obtain information that is 100% true, but there are things about a person that can only be known when you have an close relationship with them.
Through the redemptive work of Jesus Christ we have access directly to the Father. We can come boldly to the Throne of Grace anytime we like. Through knowing Jesus, not only do we have direct access to God, we have His Spirit on the inside of us. Please note: “through knowing Jesus.” I believe it warrants enough caution to really search our hearts and ask God to take away anything that hinders us from asking sincerely, any mindset, any preconceived idea, any so called knowledge we have accumulated about him, any hindering spirits, that simply do not want us to know him, as not to lose dominion and control over our soul.
When we want to get to know about Jesus whom we don’t have a relationship with, we are forced to learn about him from 3rd party sources and trust that the information we are receiving is correct.
Isn’t it ridiculous to go to the best online seminaries and study groups, reading 3rd party commentaries, and not actually knowing that what we learned might not even be true, as the people who make all the accumulated knowledge available don’t even know him. Should we instead not directly go to the source of life for the answers to our questions? Wouldn’t that just make more sense?