Posts Tagged ‘Thabiti Anyabwile’

Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile, writing at Pure Church right after Easter, pointed out that the two disciples walking to Emmaus had no idea who Jesus was, even as He walked and talked with them, opening the Scriptures (Luke 24:13-32).  From this passage Brother Anyabwile warns us of three insufficient ways of recognizing Jesus for who He is:

1.  “Physical senses alone are insufficient for recognizing Jesus for who He is.”  The disciples saw, heard, and felt Jesus; they ate with Him, yet they didn’t figure out His identity.  Who are we to think that if we saw Jesus face to face we’d recognize Him?  Our experiences with Jesus won’t be enough.

2.  “Facts alone are insufficient for recognizing Jesus for who He is—even if the facts are firsthand eyewitness testimonies.”  The men on the road to Emmaus had the facts down cold.  They knew their hopes and dreams that Jesus was to be the Messiah who would rescue Israel from their enemies.  They knew all too well the details of Jesus’ arrest, trial, death, and burial.  They knew the bizarre story the women had brought that morning of an empty tomb and a risen Lord.  But they didn’t connect the dots and recognize the inquisitive stranger in front of their noses.  Knowing Jesus requires facts, but it takes more than just facts.

3.  “Bible study alone is insufficient for recognizing Jesus for who He is.”  Jesus Himself opened the Scriptures to them, and they came away seeing more clearly that Messiah had to be slain and resurrected—but they still didn’t see that it was He who stood before them teaching.  Having spent years in church as a professing Christian, knowing the Bible well before I actually was turned to Christ, I think this is what resonated most deeply with me in Pastor Anyabwile’s article.  So what does it take to recognize Jesus?

4.  TheOne Infallible Way of Knowing the Truth about Jesus and the Resurrection: We must have our eyes opened by God.”  It was not until the moment when the Father let them recognize Jesus that it sunk in for the disciples at Emmaus (v. 16, 30-32).  When He takes off the blinders offered by the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:3-4) and willingly worn by all of us left to our own devices (John 3:19, 9:40-41), then our experiences, our awareness of gospel facts, and our knowledge of Scripture will show us who Jesus really is.

And Brother Thabiti reminds us who this Jesus is that we’ll recognize when we see Him for all that He is:

  • Jesus has come in the flesh (1 John 4:2-3).
  • Jesus is God’s unique Son (Romans 1:3-4).
  • Jesus is Lord—our Ruler and King (1 Corinthians 12:3, Luke 6:46-49).

Read the article in all of its soul-feeding fullness here.


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Pastor Thabiti Anyabwile meditates on Jesus’ prayer that crucial night outside Jerusalem:

We’re not to think no answer was given on that amazing night in Gethsemane.  Neither are we to think that the Father’s silent “No” indicated purposeless neglect, as though God the Father were a divine deadbeat dad.  We’re to understand that the only Perfect Father found occasion to deny the only Perfect Son because such denial achieved the only perfect ends.

Why should we be forever grateful that God said no?

  1. Because we need a High Priest who can identify with us (Heb. 2:16-18, 4:15).
  2. Because Jesus is the only possible mediator between God and man (Rom. 8:7; 1 Tim. 2:5; Acts 4:12).
  3. Because there would otherwise be no atonement for our sin (Heb. 2:17; 1 John 4:10).
  4. Because there was no other way to vindicate His own righteousness (Rom. 3:25-26).
  5. Because there was no other way to reveal the mutual glory of the Father and the Son (John 13:31-32; 17:1, 4-5).

As Pastor Anyabwile concludes, “Gethsemane’s silent answer will eternally be heard in the loud joyous praises of the universe!”

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            The question is sometimes asked, what is to be the future of Christianity as it comes into competition with other religions and with Communism, Nationalism, Capitalism, and all antagonistic forces?  To my mind there is absolutely no need to worry about that matter.  Jesus said, after hearing Peter’s great confession, “Upon this rock I build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it” (Matt. 16:18)….

The only thing that we need to be concerned about is to see that we carry out faithfully the instructions of our Lord; that we be true to the solemn trust committed to us; that we go on preaching the gospel; that we go on teaching His word, line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little, in season and out of season, and give ourselves no concern about its future.  Its future is assured.  God is behind it.  It cannot fail.

Let us stop worrying about the future of Christianity and get down to hard work, in carrying out the instructions of our Lord.


–Pastor Francis Grimké, “Christ’s Program for the Saving of the World” (1936), reprinted in Thabite Anyabwile’s The Faithful Preacher: Recapturing the Vision of Three Pioneering African-American Pastors (Crossway, 2007), p. 19.

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