Whose Jesus?Rich Stigall
It’s been said that God created man in His image, and we’ve been trying to return the favor ever since. Will Ferrell made light of this as Ricky Bobby in the movie Talledega Nights who prayed to “baby Jesus,” because he “likes Christmas Jesus best,” and he was “the one saying grace.” While that was a crass comedy, unfortunately our real-life misconceptions of Jesus are more serious and pervasive than we admit.
A friend struggling with guilt shared that she saw Jesus on the cross saying, “Come up here with me.” A brother gently said, “Jesus isn’t on the cross anymore. It’s finished. He paid your sins so you can be free.” Most people, regardless of what else they may believe, will at least acknowledge Jesus as a great moral teacher. Muslims believe Jesus was a prophet, but that He did not die on the cross (Qur’an, sura 4 (An-Nisa) ayat 157-158). Most people of Jewish faith believe Jesus did die on the cross, but did not rise from the dead. Some “Christian” pastors teach Jesus wants you to be rich. Others tell you He can be found among the poor.
When you think of Jesus, what do you see? A manger? A cross? Those are important symbols. The impact of Jesus’ life here on earth cannot be overstated. In a brief 33 years, Jesus, the carpenter’s son from Nazareth, changed the course of history. The calendar (BC/AD) reflects the centrality of His life. (Not surprisingly some are trying to minimize Jesus’ influence by introducing different calendar terminology. They’ll have no more success than those with the same agenda two thousand years ago.) Still, as eternally important as His time on earth was and is, Jesus is even more than that.
I recently described a mentor as a follower of Jesus. Someone asked, “Whose Jesus?” To which I replied, “Jesus as revealed in the Bible.” The Biblical narrative, from Genesis to Revelation points to Jesus as a preexistent person of the triune God through whom the world was created (Hebrews 1:2-3). Consistent with prophecy centuries before, He condescended, stepped out of eternity and took on flesh. He lived a sinless life, reflecting the nature of His Father (John 14:9). He became obedient to the point of death, even death on a Cross (Phil. 2). Jesus rose in bodily form, appearing alive and victorious multiple times, at one point to more than 500 people (1 Cor. 15:6). He then ascended into heaven (Acts 1:9) and sits on throne, sovereign over creation (Rev. 4). What He opens, no one shuts, and what He shuts, no one opens. He is worthy to open the Scroll (Rev. 5), and He is coming again to deal with what evil remains, wielding the sword, eyes ablaze to set all things right and make all things new (Rev. 19-21).
With Easter approaching, now is a good time to ask whose Jesus are we celebrating? There is only One! Hollywood can mock Him. Secularists can malign Him. Other faiths can marginalize Him. His Church can, at times, misrepresent Him, but that doesn’t change who Jesus is. He spoke eternity into existence. He incarnated as a suffering servant, but don’t stop there. The tomb is empty. He sits on the throne, wears the crown, and reigns as a coming King. He is life, truth, and the way to the Father (John 14:6). Salvation is found in no other name (Acts 4:12).
One day every knee will bow, every tongue will confess that Jesus is Lord (Phil. 2)…there will be no mistake about who Jesus is then. For those who follow Jesus today, that is really GOOD NEWS! And for those who don’t, Jesus knocks (Rev. 3:20). Do you hear Him? He is gracious and slow to anger (Psalm 103:8). Open the door and make Jesus, the Lover of your soul, yours.