Today mentoring started for the new school year and I met my new student - a third grader who told me in all seriousness that a penny is worth more than a $1.00 and that 4 quarters equal a $100.00. Well, I didn't have a $100.00 handy... trust me on this! But I had a $1.00 so I pulled out a somewhat tattered bill, showed it to him, and said, "So a penny is worth more than this?" He looked a little uncertain but decided to stick by his guns. He pointed to the number 1 in the corner of the dollar bill and said, "See. That means it's just a 1! But a penny is a... a...a.. cent! And a cent is worth a whole lot more than, than just a 1!!!"
Semantics! Synonyms! Antonyms! Homonyms! Onomatopoeia! Words that are meant to obfuscate the issue... Numbers that seem the same but somehow aren't!!! Things that just don't add up!! And inflation that can drop the value of the almighty cent in just one brief math lesson from waaay more than a dollar to... just .. 1/100th of that same dollar.
Don't you just hate things like that????
Finally, I said, "Okay. So if I had a penny - a cent - and you had a dollar... and I told you I'd trade my penny for your dollar, would you trade with me?"
He thought for a moment and then said, "I don't think so...but I'm not sure why..."
Even though the rather prominent number 1 - the lowliest number that a third grader will ever do - was clearly visible on the dollar bill, he sensed a losing proposition somewhere in the works. So he opted for caution which is just as well because he didn't have a dollar, I didn't have a penny, and even if we had been in possession of those things, I think there's probably a rule somewhere that says grown ups are not supposed to fleece little kids... especially in the mentoring program...
But the truth is, I could have fleeced him easily. Simply because he saw the number 1 on the dollar and he knows that 1 has little numerical value.
This week I attended a Christian conference on apologetics... Hang with me for a minute...
The speakers discussed various religions and cults in light of Christianity, pointing out that several different religions/cults talk about Jesus and even profess allegiance to Him. But they all diminish the Christ of the Bible.
Some say Christ is just one of many gods, human in origin, working his way to divinity one step ahead of the rest of us.
Others say he was just a great prophet or teacher.
Still others may say that He's their savior but, when pressed, will admit that they are trusting primarily in their own efforts and just trusting Him for the leftovers.
When my little friend looked at the dollar today, he grasped only part of what was in front of his eyes and totally missed the value of the bill in my hand. He diminished its worth without even realizing what he was doing.
When we look at Jesus through the lens of His own words and those of His closest associates, the disciples, we see over and over again in the New Testament that Jesus existed and was God from the very beginning of time. In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being... John 1:1-3
The disciples said that they beheld Him - "... we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14
Jesus Himself said that He was "the way, the truth, and the life" and that no one could come to the father except through Him. (John 14:7)
In Phillippians 2 we see that although He existed as God, Jesus did not regard His position as something to be grasped - to be held onto -and instead emptied Himself, humbled Himself, by assuming the form of a man and by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
Why? The Bible tells us that there is no greater act of love than for someone to lay down his life for another. Parents may lay down their lives for a child who is in danger. Spouses may sacrifice themselves for their mate. Lifelong friends may make the ultimate sacrifice.
But Jesus' sacrifice goes beyond that. As the only begotten son of God, He came to earth, lived as a human being although without sin, and then died. The sinless Lamb of God paying the penalty of sin (Romans 3:23) - my sin and your sin - so that we would be declared righteous in God's sight.
He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him. II Cor. 5:21
Don't make the mistake of looking at Jesus and seeing just a man, the way my new friend looked at the dollar and saw just the number 1.
To do so is to trade the Son of God for a very substandard imitation.