Do You Ever Feel Overwhelmed by the
Greatness and Glory of Jesus?
You’re Exactly Where God Wants You to Be!
A couple summers ago, Robyne and I got overwhelmed by stars. We traveled to northcentral Pennsylvania to experience a “dark sky.” It is one of few locations around the nation where the complete absence of competing light sources allows one to see the vast expanse of celestial bodies shining over us every night. It was breathtaking. Unforgettable. We were overwhelmed, just trying to take in the magnitude and beauty of it all!
It happened again this summer—but not with stars. Instead, along with hundreds of others, we were overwhelmed by the vastness of the majesty and wonder and supremacy of our Savior.
Let me tell you how it happened to us and many of our friends at the same time and why it really needs to happen to you as well—as a way of life.
97 Snapshots in 13 weeks!
Due to unusual circumstances for the Presbyterian Church in New Providence, New Jersey, I was asked to bring the message each Sunday throughout the summer. Since thirteen weeks lay before me, I decided to walk us through the thirteen chapters of the New Testament book of Hebrews, one chapter each Sunday.
I gave the people one challenge: Let’s see how many “snapshots” we can uncover showing us who Jesus Christ is today as the ultimate fulfillment of our lives.
In the process, we created what I called a “Photo Album of the Heart” to keep a record of what we were uncovering week by week. You can view the album graphic here.
I have written several books on the glories of Jesus and delivered hundreds of hours of teaching on biblical Christology. Even so, I started this project assuming we might uncover two or three snapshots per chapter, with a total of around 30 by the end of August.
Instead, we identified 97 snapshots (!)—the last one being that Jesus is “The same yesterday, today, forever” (Hebrews 13:8). To say I was overwhelmed by these findings is an understatement! But so were the hundreds who took the journey with me.
The level of gratitude expressed by believers in the congregation showed me that they were so hungry for more of Christ. And it broke my heart. Why? It was because I realized that as they tried to devour this “feast” of snapshots, they represented millions of other Christians across our land, who at this very hour, are similarly desperate to have someone guide them into the fullness of life found in Christ—to bring them into more of Christ and helping them become more for Christ.
The heart-cry of the overwhelmed
However, it was apparent as the weeks passed that being confronted with a larger vision of Christ—one that kept expanding Sunday after Sunday and, in the end, included a “galaxy” of 97 aspects of that vision—was a struggle for all of us. Here’s one email I received that is a good representation of the experience of many others:
Good points! I totally get it. This sense of “saturation” is genuine and valid, and it’s an important issue for all of us to confront. This cry needs an answer. However, the prior question is this: Is being “overwhelmed with Jesus” spiritually healthy for us? Is this really necessary for Jesus followers? If not, then I did a disservice to these dear believers.
Let me respond briefly as to why it is healthy and necessary—why we should bravely press ahead to uncover “Snapshots of Christ Today as the Ultimate Fulfillment of Our Lives” (the title of my summer series), not only out of the book of Hebrews but in every single page of the Bible.
Here’s why being “overwhelmed with Jesus”
is a GOOD thing for us.
Biblically, it clearly is God’s strategy. Often in Scripture, the approach of the living God is to overwhelm his people in order to get them moving forward in new ways. There are so many examples. Here are four.
(1) To Abraham: “You’ll have as many children as the stars and sands.”
(2) To Paul on the very day of his conversion: “You are going to preach about me throughout the gentile world.”
(3) To blue-collar fishermen: “Leave everything right now, follow me, and soon I’ll have you fishing for people!”
(4) To John: “Here I am in my ascended glory, alive forevermore, holding the keys of death and hell.” Remember, John was so overwhelmed that he fell down at Jesus’ feet like a dead man. And that was exactly where he needed to be in light of the assignment Jesus had for him that led to writing the book of Revelation.
Again and again, Scripture shows us that becoming overwhelmed is essential for creating healthy Christians. I believe a big part of the anemic nature of evangelical Christianity in our nation today exists because our view of Jesus has become way too small.
Therefore, part of the “method in my madness” this summer (and throughout my years of preaching around the globe) was and is to cause believers to become overwhelmed with a vision of the magnitude of the wonders of who Jesus is today—until the very weightiness of the evidence convinces God’s people emotionally, as well as intellectually, that Jesus is SO MUCH MORE than we had ever realized; that Jesus wants SO MUCH MORE for us than we have yet experienced; that Jesus deserves SO MUCH MORE from us in our commitment to live for him.
Waking to the wonders
For years, I have maintained, as many of you know, that multitudes of Christians and churches need to enter into a “Christ Awakening”—doing so to such a degree that we’ll not be able to go back to the “little Jesuses” we’ve unwittingly settled for.
Incidentally, this was my purpose behind creating a graphic for my listeners this summer that I called the “Photo Album of the Heart,” available online. Week by week, filling out its pages with new sets of snapshots helped us review and pray over what we were uncovering with each passing Sunday—to help keep us overwhelmed with all we were highlighting about our Savior.
There’s no alternative. We must plunge into the depths at every opportunity! For example, a Sunday morning message should be far more than just a graduated form of a Sunday school lesson. It needs to be prophetic because it provides the one time each week for a pastor to plunge God’s faithful people into more of the depths of the fullness of God’s reigning Son and more of our life in him! Plunging was my mission throughout this entire summer.
Don’t forget that currently, in American Christianity, the majority of members of most congregations get direct spiritual input of one sort or another for only 30 minutes a week—THIRTY minutes out of every SEVEN days! Think about that. What’s wrong with this picture?
Therefore, that being the case, that half-hour sermon each week is priceless. It is the one opportunity for most believers to become engaged from their hearts with fresh truths about the PERSON who is the ultimate fulfillment of their lives.
Thus, if they do not leave after those thirty minutes with a little bit larger vision of Christ and greater reasons to put their hope in him, then whatever else happens in that worship service, the church has failed them. Most of all, it has failed our Savior.
My prayer for the church body I’ve shared with the past three months was this: That by this fall, through the power of the Spirit of God, they would become sufficiently saturated with a grander vision of our Lord Jesus Christ so that none of us would ever want to go back to where we were before in our walk with King Jesus, both individually and together.
Let me state it once more: This summer, I was not simply preaching Christ. Rather, I was seeking to preach all of us into MORE of Christ. And that needs to continue—everywhere. In Christ, as Ephesians 3:8 reminds us, there are “inexhaustible riches.” Talk about being overwhelmed! So how can we ever stop magnifying him—enlarging him—to one another? We need to help each other “grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God” (Ephesians 3:18-19).
Being overwhelmed with Jesus lies at the very heart of true disciple-making and spiritual growth. Everything else flows from that. As believers, all of us MUST help each other to know MORE of our Lord Jesus Christ and become MORE for him!
About the Author
Over the past 50 years, David Bryant has been defined by many as a “messenger of hope” and a “Christ proclaimer” to the Church throughout the world. Formerly a minister-at-large with the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, president of Concerts of Prayer International (COPI), and chairman of America’s National Prayer Committee, David now provides leadership to ChristNow.com and Proclaim Hope!, whose mission is to foster and serve Christ Awakening movements. Order his widely read books at DavidBryantBooks.com. Enjoy his regular Daily CHRIST TODAY Podcast.