A Devotional Exercise for the Season of Advent
During the Season of Advent, the first season of the Church calendar year and the season just before Christmas, we are invited to consider afresh the nature of Jesus Christ's identity and how his life adds meaning to our lives.
During his earthly ministry, was Jesus Christ merely a remarkable human teacher? Or, as he stated himself, was Jesus the living Son of God?
Noted Christian scholar and author C.S. Lewis offered the following in his classic book entitled Mere Christianity:
"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would be a lunatic - on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse."
During my sermon this morning, I offered two (2) resources for those who are interested in contemplating the nature of Jesus' identity throughout the Advent Season.
The first is a highly readable, well-written book by Michael Green entitled Who Is This Jesus? This slender book was written at the request of two (2) different publishers in response to Green's substantial work called Evangelism Through the Local Church, a more technical book publishers believed would not be as accessible to the general public as the volume they requested. I would recommend Who is This Jesus? to anyone looking to refresh themselves with a clear, straight-forward study of Jesus' identity and His life of obedience to the call of His heavenly Father.
The second resource I mentioned this morning is a twenty-one (21) day study of The Gospel According to St. John. I would highly recommend this individual study, which can also be used as a group study and discussion, to those looking for a spiritual discipline to engage in for the Advent Season. This study falls under the category of lectio divina, a traditional monastic practice of scriptural reading, meditation and prayer intended to draw one closer to God.
Here's how the study works:
Each day for the next twenty-one (21) days, read a single chapter from John's gospel account of the life of Jesus Christ. While slowly reading the text, ask yourself these two (2) questions and record your responses in a diary or journal:
What does the text say about the identity of Jesus Christ?
What does the text say about what Jesus Christ has done for you?
The idea behind this method of reading, meditation and prayer is for the mind and imagination to slow down so that God might speak deeply to you as you contemplate His word. This is intentionally not an exercise in speed reading, which scans a text quickly to gather information. Rather, lectio divina, literally "divine reading," is intended to allow the biblical text to read you as you read it.
Many of those who have engaged with this exercise have reported profound results. I pray you will experience a deepening of your understanding of and devotion to Jesus Christ as you journey along this ancient path of lectio divina.