Do you accept the real Jesus of the Bible? If you think you do be prepared to reject many ideas about Him that people have embraced over time. Many claim to know Jesus but do they? Below is a sampling of opinions gathered from today’s generation.
There’s the Jesus who helps us cope with life’s problems, heals our past, tells us how valuable we are and not to be so hard on ourselves about sin, who raises our self-worth. He is the Jesus of self-esteem.
There’s the non-judgmental Jesus. He loves everyone all the time no matter what, except for those people who speak seriously about real end-of-life-judgment and the need for salvation for you and I.
There’s the Jesus who favours sports who athletes bow too before a match, the Jesus of Notre Dame or New England Patriots especially to win very important matches. They are the same ones who open bottles of champagne and celebrate the much anticipated win sometimes late into the night.
There’s the good Jesus, who died a cruel death no fault of His own so people can feel sorry for him.
There’s the gentle Jesus who was meek and mild whose words includes numerous anecdotes and stories for no other reason than to give people reason to try and be at peace with each other.
There’s the Jesus of spirituality. He is somewhat ambiguous on ways you can reach your goals except to put us in contact with the god within each of us. This may be attained on different levels and by many methods — be your own teacher or guru, whatever works, that kind of thing.
There’s the Jesus of occasions, good for Christmas specials, greeting cards, Easter and so on. He inspires people to come out to worship Him now and again.
There’s the Good Example Jesus who shows you how to help people, change the planet, and become a better you. Usually accompanied by the idea that to believe in yourselves anything is possible: fighting disease, earning a bigger income and a mortgage-free home, becoming more successful and powerful and wealthy and healthy. Politicians often refer to Jesus in times of crisis.
I am sure you have heard about many types of Jesus that are currently in circulation. In the early period of the N.T. Jesus knew man’s opinions, about Himself and His mission and sought to correct it. Not an easy task to do, when you consider that the majority identified Jesus as a prophet only. Mind you, He was listed as a major prophet among the many that the Jewish people had known over their long existence, which in itself was an honour for sure. Jesus was considered right up there with Jeremiah, Elijah, and even John the Baptist reincarnated. Among the many prophets, Jesus was seen as a preparatory figure, one like Elijah who had returned, or a prophet like Moses were prophetic O.T. figures that pointed to the coming Messiah. But a prophet cannot save His people of their sins; he only warns them of impending or coming judgment and points to a future figure who will be the crucial figure to meet God’s redemptive plan for man. Jesus was that figure which the prophets pointed too, that was missed by the Scribes and Pharisees. For many it was a problem of Messianic Perception.
The same problem persist today, but in a different manner. Among the many pseudos of Christ now in existence, is a historical Jesus who did in fact experience death on the cross for sins, but not necessarily for all our sins according to some critics. Personal application of His death and resurrection goes unnoticed by many who claim they do not need this truth for themselves. In their thinking it is not a life and death issue. The tendency is to skip over it much like choosing to do when other things preoccupy our minds. It seems typical to accept our own failed spiritual state as normal and nothing to be concerned about. When faced with our moral failings man tends to deny his personal responsibility and that Jesus does not have any claim on their lives, to call them to faith and repentance in Him. This type of Christ that calls them to holiness is certainly not what they expected since they wish to enjoy their lives without any intrusion of truth that says differently. The gospel means change since it requires you to submit to Christ in every detail of your life. In Jesus early ministry, not many were converted. Yet, crowds came and sought Jesus but for no other reason than to profit from any opportunity for trouble free and prosperous lives by being around Him in hope of being a subject of one of His miracles. Is it any wonder that the “health and wealth” ministries attract so much attention today, and in the process rake in hundreds of thousands of dollars, on the back of naive and self-seeking followers who induce them to pay for miracles in the thought they can receive what they wish for? This is the kind of Jesus that the self-seeking and naive hearers crave over and the kind of Jesus bought to life by TV counterfeit evangelists, who for the sake of riches and power send out request of money, a kind of deal where you pay for your miracle in advance in the mail and the more you give the more you can expect in return. How attractive this may seem to the credulous and how ludicrous it has become should be obvious. The real Jesus was impoverished and His ministry of compassion meant many were freely healed for their good and the testimony of the God, and never for payment. His reputation as a miracle doer, amazing teacher, His Divine right to forgive sins has always been carried out based on His Will and never our own. Jesus reputation as a miracle doer, amazing teacher, His Divine right to forgive sins, for He who possesses such power and authority in which God Himself attest of Jesus Sonship at His Baptism yet was not considered anything more than a great prophet is surprising in itself. In so many ways the jury was still out on His true identity.
While much of the early section of Mark lays out proofs of the Lord’s Divinity, the question Jesus asked about His identity was to prepare His disciples for His departure and the beginning of the Church was necessary. Jesus mission would encounter greater opposition in the days ahead. That meant that the follower’s of Jesus could also expect suffering. They will have to face persecution from the world, to remain firm, kind and gracious and not retaliate. Christ’s followers are told that they are to die to themselves in order to live for Christ. That is hard to do because most of us stubbornly fight for preserve our way of living. None of us in our natural state wish to lose out on our creature comforts, or suffer for someone else, or be humiliated for the sake of someone else. Yet, Christ says that to lose your life is needed to identify with Him. Jesus was humiliated being branded a criminal, suffering openly before a mocking crowd, while His own disciples hid. This same Jesus mentored His disciples for three years never deserting them, but a faithful friend and teacher even dying on their behalf. He taught what it meant to die to self and live for others and God. To be His disciple is to follow that that the way of the cross which is the way of suffering. No one ever has ever had the right to tell someone else to clone your life after that of another in the same manner that Jesus insisted that His followers do after His own life.
If you wish to know the true identity of Jesus you only have to read Isaiah 53 to see how Jesus is described in that passage: this remarkable figure who is revealed to us as the Suffering Servant of Yahweh. The Messiah and His mission was greatly misunderstood by His own people, and today much of the world fails to recognize the true meaning of His person and work. Many shirk at the idea of personal suffering and giving up our comforts and safety for Jesus, even though He gave His life for His own. Rather you have rationalized Christ to fit your idea of what a Messiah is supposed to be like rather than to accept what the Scriptures have to say about Him, denying Him in similar fashion that His own people did. Maybe you do not wish to suffer and are afraid and even ashamed to follow Him. Jesus understood many would misunderstand Him and His work because they reckoned glory, honour and power for their Messiah and they themselves: would reign with Him then, but were not inclined to the possibility of someone who stood in direct contrast to their hopeful expectations. Jesus disappointed them with the truth about Himself, that He did not come to reshape the current establishment into a physical Kingdom where His people would rule with Him, but instead taught them that He came to deliver sinners from their sins from which His Kingdom would came to mean God`s rule in their hearts. This is not a physical kingdom during Jesus life on earth, but a spiritual one. It is not a kingdom paved in convenience and ease. For some Jesus occupies that subjective part of our minds that imagines Jesus to be someone who commits Himself to us no matter how unrepentant or rebellious we may be, in whom we flatly refuse to obey, yet we forever wish for Him to be accepting of us in our refusal to obey Him, that is the way we hope Him to be. If that sounds familiar, you are in for a shocking conclusion to this imagined Jesus .
For whoever is ashamed of me and of my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him will the Son of Man also be ashamed when he comes in the glory of his Father with the holy angels.” Mark 8:38
Who is Jesus to you? Do not get me wrong. Other questions are essential such as what is truth? Who God is? What is our purpose? These questions matter, but how you identify Christ matters most of all since it causes you to see where your personal loyalties truly lies. Are you seeing Christ as the quintessence of your life? The Suffering Savior of God in whose sole mission was to give His life as a ransom for you so that you can be pardoned of your sins before God? If not, you are missing the grand truth of the Bible and you will die in your sins and spend eternity in hell. No one wishes for this to happen, and that is why this truth must not be overlooked or seem as something archaic or foreign. Pay serious attention to Christ and His mission and it is our prayer that you come to the same conclusion as Peter did about Christ identity. Will you speak of Him as the Christ who died for you and saved you from your sins and promised you eternal life? That you may pledge your life to Him and serve Him, leaving behind your sinful habits to live a righteous life? Are you prepared to follow Him for the rest of your life? Where you spend eternity hangs in the balance. Consider these matters wisely.