I came so they can have real and eternal life, more and better life than they ever dreamed of. ~ Jesus of Nazareth 
One name that continues, year after year, to turn up on just about everybody’s list of people who have lived a life of doing good is…
Jesus of Nazareth.
I’m guessing that you are very familiar with this name.
Maybe, too familiar!
Sadly, this familiarity we all have with Jesus of Nazareth just might be one of the main reasons people of our generation have so much difficulty holding on to the truest details about Him. You see, just like the other names I listed earlier, celebrity can many times hide the deepest truths about the person we’re hoping to discover. So many things have been written about Abraham Lincoln, for example, it’s hard to find the man hiding behind the countless stories about him. So, it is with Jesus of Nazareth. So much has been written and said about Him over the last two thousand years, it’s nearly impossible, at times, to find the truest facts about who Jesus really was and still is.
As we read about Him in the Gospel accounts, we find that Jesus, Himself, seemed very concerned about all this celebrity-talk that surrounded His life and ministry. On one occasion, He turned to His closest friends and engaged them in this controversy, asking them to tell Him what they were hearing from others. Interestingly, they responded by giving Jesus some very good answers that might have satisfied some. But quite honestly, Jesus didn’t seem all that interested in what others thought about Him. His only point to this conversation seems to come down to one very pointed question…
“And you…who do you say that I am?” 
Just think. What if Jesus asked this same question to people in our generation. Just think how many different answers He might receive.
I’m sure some would call Him a great teacher. Others would say that He was an impressive religious figure, while some would respond, like His disciple, Peter, saying they believe Him to be the Savior of the world.
In truth, I’m guessing that most people today, including you and me, would say that His name does indeed belong right up there near the top of the list of people who have lived their life for good.
One small detour here.
As you might have noticed, as you read my words here, that I capitalize my pronouns when referring to Jesus of Nazareth. While the writers of the New Testament did not do such things, I decided a number of years ago to begin writing this way as a personal way of reminding myself of the importance He has had in my life.
I came to know the goodness of Jesus of Nazareth when I was very young. My parents attended a Presbyterian church when I was growing up in the little town of Mt. Pleasant, Iowa, so hearing about Jesus on a regular basis was quite common for me. I’ve had a number of personal encounters with Jesus of Nazareth over the years, and many of my most powerful moments were the times when I would listen to Billy Graham on television, as he described Jesus and the reasons people needed to make a decision about Him.
Some might say that I was brainwashed as a child, accepting Him as Savior, because that was what I saw my parents doing, and that was what I was witnessing on television, as thousands upon thousands of people continually flooded to the alter to accept Jesus after Billy Graham extended an invitation to do so. Yet, after 60-plus years of following Jesus as my Savior, I know with great certainty, that my decision to take a hold of Jesus and follow Him was the right one, indeed.
You see, for me, the level of goodness that I’ve found in Jesus of Nazareth has convinced me that He is the way of life that can best produce that same level of goodness in my life.
As we discussed earlier, life here on planet earth can leave most of us pretty skeptical about goodness. There seems to be so much bad and ugly in and around me, I often wonder if good can ever prevail.
Have you ever felt that way? I’m guessing that you have.
Do you remember when you were a kid and life seemed a lot simpler than it does today?
Most of us, when we were young, would dream of accomplishing wonderful things with our lives. And whenever we wanted to pursue something of great value, it was always helpful for us to find another person in whom we could place our hopes and dreams. Many times, particularly when we are very young, that special person was one of our parents. Later on, in life, it’s sometimes a coach or a teacher who becomes the model who encourages us to follow our dreams. Other times, that model can be a person more distant from us, maybe a celebrity we watch on television or in the movies.
For me, a lover of music from early on in my life, I chose a number of well-known pop musicians and composers whose music touched me deeply, fueling my passion to become a composer/arranger of popular music. I went on to graduate from the University of Iowa School of Music, only to realize that I wasn’t the only, and certainly not the bestest and brightest, one when it came to pursuing my dreams. After a while, I realized that my hope of becoming a well-known composer/arranger was not in the cards, so I got my education certificate and became a band director, working in a school system in the Chicago suburbs.
It was there, I met my wife-to-be who was also a music teacher who was attending a vibrant church in the northern suburbs of Chicago. She invited me to attend church with her and within a few weeks I was mesmerized by the presence of the Almighty that I felt when we were singing songs to Jesus.
Over the next few years, Jesus of Nazareth, and the goodness I was finding in Him, became my new passion that replaced my dreams of becoming a well-known music composer/arranger. I found that music, which was still my love, was being re-directed and re-defined by my growing love for Jesus. And interestingly enough, as I look back over the last 40+ years, I’ve seen how Jesus actually fulfilled my dreams in music while making it secondary to my pursuit of the goodness I found in Him.
So, now that you’ve heard my story, I’m curious.
What’s your passion? What are your dreams and hopes?
Believe it or not, Jesus of Nazareth, in all His goodness, is not looking to smash any of those hopes or dreams, but simply interested in conforming them into a life that, first and foremost, pursues Him and the goodness that comes in and through your life as you do just that. And if you are anything like me, you’ll be quite surprised how Jesus can actually bring together all the loose ends of your scattered life into one life of good, for the greater glory of God!
So, are you interested in finding out more? Keep going…
 John 10: 10b (MsgB)
 Mark 8: 27-29 (NIV)
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