Friday, December 8, 2006

It's all about Jesus

My brother belongs to a zealous religious group. They live clean lives, appear to love and support one another, and go door-to-door seeking converts. However, his faith-system has a big flaw—their concept of Jesus Christ.

He says Jesus is a created being, not God in the flesh. He also says that after His death, God raised Jesus from the dead “as a spirit creature” and adds He was made King much later.

The main difference between what people of this and other religions believe and what I believe is how we respond to the biblical claims about the identity of Jesus Christ.

Jesus must have known that would be the case. He spoke to His disciples several times about who He was. In Luke 7, John the Baptist sent Him the question, “Are You the Coming One, or do we look for another?”

At first, Jesus didn’t respond. Instead, “At that very hour He cured many of infirmities, afflictions, and evil spirits; and to many blind He gave sight.”

Then he answered, “Go and tell John the things you have seen and heard: that the blind see, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who is not offended (caused to stumble) because of Me.”

His proof of being their Messiah and God in human flesh was first shown by the things He did. No man had cured the sick, raised the dead, or given hope to the poor. His actions were so dramatic that multitudes followed Him around Galilee wanting to see what He would do next.

However, Jesus also spoke about who He was and His contemporaries understood His statements. They knew He claimed deity and were infuriated to the point of wanting to kill Him.

However, modern readers may not understand the Jewish mind and culture of that time and not grasp the significance of His claims. My brother is one of them. To him, Jesus was a wonderful person who gave him and his friends a general freedom to earn their salvation. In their minds, Jesus removed the power of sin so they can now live in a way that pleases God. If they do all their organization stipulates, they have a good chance of eternal life.

The Bible teaches that we do have this human desire to be ‘good enough’ to please God. In pride, we “turn our own way” and think our way is the right way. We shrink from being told “no one can please God” and reject Jesus because He demands we put all that aside and follow Him.

Also, the people in Jesus’ time looked for a political Messiah who would free them from Roman oppression. Today, people want a Messiah who makes their life easier and feeds their pride. They refuse Jesus’ unique offer to set them free from their religious efforts, prideful good works, and the ownership of their own lives. Those rejections range from open hostility to rewriting the Bible and trying to make Jesus into someone He is not.

Jesus will not fit into anyone’s mold. Those who try to push Him there are saying, “This man shall not rule over me” and “I will please God by my good works.”

To that, Jesus Christ responds with great sorrow, “Unless they repent they will perish.”

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