It seems there is no end to opinions about Jesus. Who was he really? Can we know? What did he really teach? What would he say or do if he walked the earth today?
The media and culture are constantly challenging the church’s traditional view of Jesus. There have been many attempts to discredit the Bible, its authority, and its account of Jesus. Unsubstantiated stories about a Jesus who really did not die but got married and had children have risen and died over the past few years. The Jesus Seminar has called into question the Jesus of the Bible, claiming we cannot really know what he did or taught.
On the other hand, people are creating a Jesus based upon a Bible verse or two. Taking verses out of context they create a Jesus of their own liking. Some have created a Jesus based simply on their own opinions. Focusing on what Jesus did not say has been used by some to justify opinions and actions that are very much opposed to the Jesus revealed in the Gospel accounts.
Who is the real Jesus? Is he the prosperity Jesus who wants to make everyone rich? Is he the miracle Jesus that heals everyone? Is he the happy Jesus who only wants us to be happy and approves of anything that makes us happy for the moment? Is he the feelings Jesus who states that our feelings define us? Is he the angry Jesus who hates everyone that is not like me? Is he the patriotic Jesus who loves America more than any other nation? Is he the Republican Jesus or the Democratic Jesus? Is he the denominational Jesus who created my denomination but not yours? Is he the religious Jesus who created a new religion to rival the other religions of the world? Take your pick because there are many impressions of Jesus that have been imposed upon the man who claimed to be the Son of God.
May I suggest to you that the Jesus we find in the Bible is none of these? The Jesus we find revealed to us in the pages of the New Testament is not subject to the opinions and impressions of fallen human beings. Jesus presented himself as the one and only Son of God who was also equal to the Father (Father being a term that referred to God). He said and did things like no other human being. Though controversial, he is the most significant person who has ever lived.
Jesus not only walked on water but walked on the raging sea. Then he calmed the storm that threatened the lives of experienced fishermen using a single phrase, “Be still.” He actually healed people from physical ailments that did not return. He did not need to use psychosomatic suggestions that made people only believe they were healed. He actually healed them. He raised a man from the dead who had been in the grave for four days. This was not a near death experience but a physical resurrection from the dead. Yes, the Jesus of the Bible did things that no one has ever duplicated.
Jesus taught with such authority that people were amazed because no one had every taught that way before. I assure you there is no preacher today, including this one, who can teach with the clarity and authority of Jesus of Nazareth.
He confronted the Jewish religious leaders because they had taken God’s Law and added to it for their own selfish purposes. They had used it to become rich and to oppress the people. They had missed the purpose and truth of the Law even though they claimed to be teachers and experts.
He presented himself as the Messiah of the nation of Israel but was rejected by the leaders because he did not fit their impression of Messiah. They rejected him because he taught the truth of God and took the Law to a deeper level.
He ultimately surrendered himself to be crucified even though he had done nothing wrong. When the arresting army said they were looking for Jesus of Nazareth, Jesus simply said “I am” and the whole army fell backward. Though having the ability to resist and destroy the army, he allowed them to arrest and crucify him. This was to fulfill his ultimate purpose for coming into the world.
Jesus willingly gave himself to bear the penalty of the sins of all mankind for all time. As a pastor I do not understand why he would do this or exactly how it happened but I know that Jesus died for me and for you. All I can say is that the holiness, righteousness, and justice of God met perfectly with the love, grace and mercy of God at the cross. There Jesus paid my sin debt and has poured out his grace on an undeserving man. I know that he is my Savior and my Lord simply through accepting his free gift of life through faith.
Let me ask you, how well do you know the real Jesus? Have you ever taken time to read and study about his life? Have you ever stopped listening to popular opinion long enough to read what God has revealed about Jesus? Have you ever read all of the four gospel accounts: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John?
Let me end with a challenge to us all. Whether you have ever read the gospels or not, take time over the next few months to read the four gospel accounts of Jesus. As you do, pray that God will reveal the real Jesus to you. Open your mind up to what God has revealed. Do not limit your understanding to your opinions or to just a few verses. Then see what God will do in your life as a result. I would love to hear from those who are willing to take this challenge.
May the true Jesus become supreme in of our lives and our churches.