As a brand-new Christian, heart bursting with love for my Savior, I read over and over the names of Jesus on the poster I’d hung on my dorm-room wall. Wonderful Counselor, Almighty God, Prince of Peace. The list went on and on. Redeemer. Friend. The radiance of the glory of God. I can still picture it now, 30 years later.
Then, decades after those college years, during a tough time, God armed me against the temptations working to lure me away from trust in His goodness. He used an article to remind me (you can read it here) of Jesus’ beauty and preeminence. He turned my eyes from me (and my woes) to Him. The quoted line from Jonathan Edwards has most stuck with me:
In Christ we find an “admirable conjunction of diverse excellencies.”
During those month’s dark hours, the admirable excellence of all Jesus is held me. His attributes, summed up in those names from my college poster, re-gripped my heart. Wonder and worship revived my anxious and weary soul. And now, when I remember the “diverse excellencies” of Jesus, my heart lifts and my mind bows in humility before a breathtaking God.
The Lord’s magnificence leaves me speechless. As I see Him in His fullness, His transcendent joy arms me against the assaults of Satan and the lure of the tempter’s hooks. When I ponder His glorious, unexpected combination of attributes, I desire Jesus alone.
Diverse excellencies and fortified hearts
Read about Him and His interactions with people like you. His mercy and goodness astound! Ask God to help you bow in awe before Jesus’ excellencies! And as you do, you’ll trust Him more, and as you trust Him, you’ll find Him to be true. And as you find Him to be true, you’ll be dissatisfied with lesser substitutes. As you say “no!” to the lure of lesser substitutes, you’ll again find Him to be true. As He’s found true, you’ll hate the tempter’s lures even more.
The pollution beneath the bait’s glossy appeal is exposed and you’re freed from enticing, but false promises. You’re freed from desires for counterfeit joy. Despite any sort of trial, you want to fall in worship before Jesus. And that’s a very happy place to be.
Here are a few of Christ’s diverse excellencies that always grab my heart:
Jesus is the Lion, full of power and reigning supreme over all all (that includes you). Yet, He is also the Lamb, slaughtered willingly for sinners who believe in Him for salvation.
He is not only the Lamb sacrificed, He is the Shepherd of God’s sheep. He guides His lambs (you) and protects them against predators. He prepares for them all they need. And in the end, as the Good Shepherd, He is willingly slain for His own sheep.
Yet, not only is He the Shepherd, but the King. Magnificent in royalty and dominion, He ever rules for the good of His people. No foe can thwart Him. And not only the Shepherd and King, but also the strong Warrior. He fights for you.
He is the Warrior and the Priest. He is the Priest and the Sacrifice. He is the Sacrifice and Victor. He is the Victor and the Servant. He is the Servant and the King. He is the King and the Convicted. He is the Convicted and the Judge. He is the Judge and the Advocate. Diverse excellencies, each pair juxtaposed yet complementary, finding their admirable conjunction in Him. (Jared Wilson, He is the radiance of the glory of God)
Jesus is all in all (Col. 1:15-20). He is wisdom itself (I Cor. 1:30). He is the image of the invisible God and in Him all things hold together. You were made to worship Him alone! When the tempter lures you with paltry counterfeits, Jesus is the joy that arms you against his pleasure-baited hooks. The joy the Lord gives is better than anything the tempter can ever offer.
For Jesus is even more beautiful.
His true love triumphs over false promises. His true joy puts our mouth out of taste for the (counterfeit) pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.
Lion photo: by Trisha M. Shears. Lamb photo: Lamb near Port Chalmers, New Zealand, by Benchill.
Link to Part 3: Even more beautiful. Link to Part 1: Armed against the tempter’s hooks, for more on the quote: “The joy of the Lord will arm us against the assaults of our spiritual enemies and put our mouths out of taste for those pleasures with which the tempter baits his hooks.”