John Lennon declared he was bigger than him. The Titanic Director James Cameron thinks he’s found his grave. His name may have been said within your earshot today. As a curse word. But who is Jesus really. And how does that affect my life, in 2009?
You may know some of the facts surrounding Jesus’ life and death.
Christmas is the celebration of Jesus’ birth in a stable, to a virgin, in Bethlehem. Easter is the celebration of His death, on a cross in Jerusalem. You may know that he worked miracles, and had disciples and enemies, that he preached love and eternal life. But do you know what he really lived and died for?
We’ve all seen the stained glass pictures, or those paintings painted in the Renaissance of Jesus. They depict him as weak, mild, insipid even. In Western culture, all of us have been exposed to the figure of Jesus Christ countless times since infancy. Holiday carols and cliches, TV specials and Bible stories, bumper stickers and slogans, crucifixes and sunrise services – even coarse jokes and curse words. We, too, consciously or subconsciously, have developed our own set of assumptions about this Jesus
Jesus was a carpenter, used to working with his hands, lifting heavy beams of wood, using his whole body to craft yokes for oxen and furniture for homes. When Jesus walked this earth, He didn’t fit the expectations of the religious community, or even his own disciples. He didn’t demand an ornate tower to preach from, He was born in the dust, His friends were the most controversial fringe elements of society – tax collector’s, prostitutes, lepers… Jesus touched those that were classed as outcasts and untouchables. Equally he called to those that were community leaders, soldiers, the wealthy. Jesus didn’t look at the exterior, he looked at the heart and gave everyone the opportunity to follow Him.
Jesus stood up for real truth, the truth that God was real and loved them and desired to be in relationship with them. He preached real love, real commitment to holy living and real commitment and relationship with God. He talked about eternity and the way to heaven, life and death, choices. This went against the grain of the religious leaders who had made “church” into a series of do this and don?t do that?s.
In his famous book Mere Christianity, C.S. Lewis makes this statement, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic–on the level with a man who says he is a poached egg–or he would be the devil of hell. You must take your choice. Either this was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us.(emphasis: web author)”
Jesus Christ made a claim that was breathtaking in it’s audacity. Where did He come from? Was He really God in the flesh? Why was the establishment of His day so frightened by His message that He had to die? Who is Jesus to you? Your life on this earth and for all of eternity is affected by your answer to this question.
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God, even making himself the same as God. He said “before Abraham was, I AM”. Abraham is known as the father of faith for both Jews and Christians. I AM is a holy sacred name for God, the name that God himself gave Moses to share with the enslaved Jewish people as a sign of the power and reality of God and his promises. Jesus essentially is saying I AM. He is saying I AM God. To say this he was either telling the truth, deluded and lying, or just plain lying out of a desire for power and fame and self glory, to deceive the people into believing in him.
Jesus said he was the one and only way to God, both for eternity and for this life too. Will you believe what he said?