To Represent Christ

By Francis Frangipane

"And Jesus was going about in all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every kind of disease and every kind of sickness among the people. And the news about Him went out into all Syria; and they brought to Him all who were ill, taken with various diseases and pains, demoniacs, epileptics, paralytics; and He healed them all. And great multitudes" (underscore this in your mind) great multitudes, not just a handful here, "great multitudes followed Him..." (Matt 4:23-25)

When Jesus is lifted up, great multitudes follow. By the thousands, people left their cities, their market places and businesses. Great throngs of men, women and children eagerly left their homes and communities to be with Jesus in the wilderness. Such is the power of the Master.

Yet, seeing these multitudes, He departed and went up on a mountain, and after he sat down, His disciples came to Him. Keep this in mind: Not all the multitudes were disciples; only His disciples came to be trained by Him. The multitudes came to be healed and blessed. Some came to be delivered, while others to be encouraged or just loved. His disciples came to Him not merely to be touched, but transformed.

Dear one, not everybody who finds Jesus desires also to become like Him. Multitudes come to receive from Him, but only disciples come to give to Him, to give Him their lives and very life resources so that He can reduplicate his life through them.

To represent Him is His goal with His disciples. Let me rephrase that. We do not merely represent Him; we re-present Him. His living presence must be presented through us. We do more than teach about Him; He teaches through us. He calls us to a higher life than just knowing what He did, as awesome as that is; our call is to reveal who He is. Thus, He calls us His body.

The goal of the body is not merely to remember what the Head once did, but to manifest perfectly the intentions, thoughts and virtue of the Head. The actions of the body ought ultimately to be the living expressions of its Head.

Thus, Jesus saw the vast multitudes and went up on a mountain to begin training disciples. This is so important, my friends, because today Jesus again is seeing multitudes, and again is seeking to train His disciples. This is the reason we have come to Christ: to be trained personally by Him.

We say, "How will that happen?" The Holy Spirit animates Christ's teachings in the Scriptures and makes the words alive, as though Jesus Himself were speaking to us. The main purpose of the Holy Spirit is not to give us gifts, but to lead us into the spiritual presence of our Master, Jesus Christ. Indeed, even the fruit of the Spirit comes from our union with Christ.

Consider: Jesus said, "I have given them My joy . . . My peace." (See Jn 14:27 & 15:11) We do not come to Him with love; "we love, because He first loved us" (1Jn 4:19). He is the vine; we are the branches. The Holy Spirit guides us into all truth; Jesus is the Truth.

There are "varieties of ministries, and the same Lord" (I Cor 12:5). All true ministry arises from a person's relationship with Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit. The Spirit does not just teach; He leads us into union with the Teacher, Christ. He transfers to us the living substance of the person, power and character of Christ.

So through the Holy Spirit, we have a living relationship with Jesus Christ. We are disciples that He desires to raise up, train and empower. He does not care whether you are a male or female, young or old, rich or poor. He is seeking more than your abilities and attainments; He desires your yieldedness and commitment to continue on with Him, even when you fail or when He tests your faith with the illusion of distance.

How does He train me? In a thousand ways, but one principle means is through His living word. When I take my Bible, as I seek to find the heart of God, I begin by kneeling before Him with the Scriptures I am to study open between us. But just because the Bible is open, that does not mean the understanding is open. So I will pray, "Lord, open my mind to Your word." I may read for quite a while, until something God speaks leaps off the page and descends through my eyes into my heart.

At this point I realize that, through the Holy Spirit, Christ Himself is speaking to me. I am not just studying the Bible; Jesus Christ is training me. He is doing to me what He did with His first century disciples. Indeed, even as I write and contemplate what He reveals, I know He is not just looking at me when He speaks. He sees the multitudes. He is training me to represent Him.