Maybe you’ve heard my story. Then again, maybe you haven’t. Either way, my story, and several others like it, serve as great reminders for how Jesus can change lives. But before we get into a few of the lives that Jesus changed, let’s take a look at the life of Jesus. His story begins, not in the gospel accounts of the New Testament, but in the beginning of scripture. God had just spent 6 days creating all things. He created the birds, the trees, and his best creation yet: Adam & Eve. In the garden, Adam and Eve were free to do just about anything, except eat from one tree. Like a child who’s told to stay away from the cookie jar, Adam and Eve go right to that very tree God told them to steer clear of. As punishment for their sins, God brings death into the world.
That death is a price we couldn’t repay. Sure, we can die a physical death, but spiritual death, or separation from God, is a death that none of us would like to experience. That’s why God put on flesh. Some 2,000 years ago, a child was born of a virgin. He grew up a carpenter, and when he was in his early 30’s, he began a life of ministry that would change the world. He performed healings, walked on water, raised people from the dead, changed water into wine, calmed storms, and even made the lame walk. Jesus changed lives in his few years he spent doing earthly ministry, but it wasn’t until he went to the cross when lives were truly changed. He died a gruesome death at the hands of the Romans, and was buried in a guarded tomb. Three days later, that tomb was empty. That’s when Jesus started changing people.
Peter & The Disciples
Peter and the other disciples were the firsthand witnesses of Jesus’ ministry and his final days. They saw the brutality that the Romans showed to Jesus. The disciples were there, watching Jesus on trial in front of the powers that be. They were there when Jesus was sentenced to crucifixion. Christ’s disciples watched during the countless hours as Jesus hang bleeding on the cross. They saw him die, and witnessed his burial. For them, the promise of everything that this Messiah would bring was now over. In the days following the crucifixion, Peter and the other disciples were hopeless without Jesus, and were fearful that they were next on the Roman hit-list. But, Jesus didn’t stay dead. Following the resurrection, the disciples became confident, and bold. They were changed so much that instead of hiding, they were able to stand in front of crowds and proclaim the risen Christ. Peter and the disciples were so confident in this truth that they were willing to go to brutal deaths themselves for it. Lives were changed by Jesus.
Paul knew of Jesus before his final days, but in a different way than the disciples knew Jesus. Paul (or Saul) was a Pharisee trained by Gamaliel. (For those of you that don’t know anything about Gamaliel think of this as sort of a Jedi-Master, Jedi-Knight sort of thing.) He was brought up to be a very successful man of faith. But this faith was completely against everything that Jesus stood for. In fact, the message of Christ was a threat to the Pharisees. That’s why they pushed to have Jesus crucified, and that’s why Paul was instrumental in persecuting the early church. The disciples lives were changed after Jesus was raised from the dead. They went out and they shared this good news with the world. Paul was the one that committed his life to stopping this message. He’d do just about anything to stop this message from spreading, until he had a similar life change on the road to Damascus. Paul saw the risen Jesus, and his life was immediately changed. He became a powerhouse preacher for the early church and went on to start several churches throughout the region.
Similarly, my life was changed by Jesus. At a young age, I accepted Christ during a vacation bible school program at my local church. In the weeks that followed, I was baptized. Before being dunked, I thought I’d come out of that water a changed person. I had this vision that I’d go into the water as Scott, and come out as Scott v.2. Unfortunately, no change occurred. Nothing was different. Time passed. My commitment to Jesus shrunk day by day. This pattern continued until college. It was a rough time in my life, and I remember looking over at my nightstand. There, on top, sat my dusty old Bible that hadn’t been opened in ages. I asking myself that if I died right then and there, would God be satisfied with the life that I lived? I remembered accepting Jesus. I knew my sins were covered. But would my life be honoring to God? My answer was no.
Right then and there I began a journey through God’s word that would change my life forever. I read through what God had done for Israel, what he had done for a people thousands of years ago, and what he could do for me today. While I read through scripture, I began to see the world through God’s point of view. It was during this journey, when I felt God calling me to ministry. I can honestly say that Jesus changed my life, just like he did to Paul, Peter, and the disciples. The good news is that he can change yours too!
Peter and the rest of the disciples once were hopeless and fearless. But after being changed by Jesus, they were confident and full of boldness. Paul once was enemy number one of the church. But after being changed by Jesus, Paul became one that would share the Gospel and plant churches. I once was just going through the motions. But after being changed my Jesus, I’m living out the life God intended me to live. Jesus changes lives. Let him change yours. Are you ready to start a relationship with Christ? If so, contact me today. I’d love to pray with you.
(Photo by Flickr User: Dan Brady)
“I once was ______ , but now I’m ______ .”
How has your life been changed by Jesus? Comment below!