Who Is Jesus?
The most important question that faces the human race is simply this: who is Jesus? In the Gospel of John, Jesus made a number of extreme claims that demand a response. These are not the kinds of claims that we can remain neutral about. They are not the claims of a “normal” human being.
For example, Jesus claimed to be God in human flesh (John 8:58), He also claimed to be “the way, the truth, and the life” and that “no one could come to the Father, except through [Him]” (John 14:6). In John 5, Jesus claimed to be the final judge for all mankind. Beyond this, He claimed that people should honor Him in the same way they honor the Father.
As C.S. Lewis says in his classic Mere Christianity, Jesus is either a lunatic, or a deliberate liar, or He is telling the truth. These are our only options when faced with such extreme claims. You cannot sit on the fence when someone makes such claims. Extreme claims demand an extreme response!
There is no way around it: the Bible’s portrait of Jesus is radical. It is either true or false. There is no in-between. Just to be clear, the Bible claims: 1) that Jesus is God in human skin, 2) that Jesus is the Savior of mankind, 3) that He died and rose from the dead, 4) that He will be the final judge of all mankind, 5) that our response to Him will determine where we will spend eternity. These are radical claims that we have to respond to! The old response of liberal clergy will not do—namely that Jesus is a “good moral human teacher” and nothing more. Here’s the problem with this: good moral teachers do not walk around claiming to be God! If Jesus is not God, then He is either insane or evil.
In John 8:24, Jesus says, “Unless you believe that I AM, you will die in your sins.” The reference to “I AM” is a direct reference to the Old Testament book of Exodus, where God claimed to be “I AM.” In ancient Jewish culture, Jesus’ claim in John 8 was a clear and direct claim to be God in human flesh. It was a claim to be Yahweh of the Old Testament. This is either true or it is utter blasphemy!
The bottom line is this: the biblical portrait of Jesus puts a strong emphasis on truth claims because Jesus did. The Gospels tell us that He claimed to be God incarnate, but that He also showed radical compassion for the poor and needy. (This is unparalleled in the world religions!) He is also presented as a man who loved others deeply and preached a gospel of God’s grace and mercy. Thus, any attempt to present a flattened picture of Jesus that reduces Him to a one-dimensional person is destined to be off base. It is destined to present a Jesus that is weak and diluted. This kind of Jesus will not impact the world and will certainly not draw the worship of modern-day men and women. What is your response to Him? Have you surrendered to Him as Lord and Savior?
The real Jesus of the Bible is a shock to the contemporary Western reader. You might call this “Jesus Shock.” He is quite different than the soft-spoken teacher who often shows up on Sunday school flannel boards in Vacation Bible Schools all over America. It’s a good reminder to make sure we are worshiping the real Jesus of the Gospels, and not an air-brushed, dumbed-down version so common in Western culture today.
by Jay Childs, Senior Pastor