What Can We Say About Jesus?

According to the gospel writer John the number of things that could be said about Jesus are innumerable:

And there are also many other things which Jesus did, which if they were written in detail, I suppose that even the world itself would not contain the books that would be written.
– John 21:25

Today I suppose the popular answer to the question, what can we say about Jesus, would be, Jesus is loving. Perhaps second in popularity, though I suspect, a distant second, would be, Jesus is our Savior.

I wonder if anyone would come up with what I think might be most true about Jesus. Yes, He is loving because He is Love, but that is not His only trait. Yes, He saves and therefore is the Savior, but not in a universal sense.

What I think is most true about Jesus is that He was and is misunderstood.

When He was a baby, Herod misunderstood the announcement that a king had been born, and tried to have Him killed. His parents misunderstood when He, as a twelve-year-old, stayed in the temple, going about His Father’s business. His mother misunderstood when she asked Him as an adult to turn water into wine.

But that was nothing compared to all the misunderstanding He was about to suffer. The 5000 He fed thought He would always be good for a free lunch. The crowds that pressed around Him for healing, that saw Him raise the dead or throw demons out of possessed people, thought He was on His way to Jerusalem to establish His rule. Meanwhile, His family thought He was crazy, and the men He chose as His apprentices wouldn’t believe Him when He said He was going to die or that He would rise again on the third day.

Then there were the guys who hated Him. They were convinced He would start a riot, bringing down the wrath of Rome on Judea. They feared Him for what He never claimed or intended to be and rejected Him for what He openly called them to believe.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was Pilate who thought he was in charge, not Jesus. There were the mockers at the foot of the cross who didn’t think He could come down if He wanted to. And afterward, there were His followers, packing it in, ready to go back to fishing because the last three years had been a bust, they thought.

Of course none of it was a bust. All of it was according to Plan. But the misunderstanding hasn’t stopped. People still think wrong things about Jesus. Some say He is a myth or that He was an awfully nice man, dead though He now is. Others think He came to earth to live a life of kindness and generosity so people everywhere could see how it could be done and then go and do likewise. Still others divorce him from his Father, thinking that he either was a secondary god or god in an evolved form from his Old Testament self.

Some people say that He is, in fact, the Son of God, but they think He can be manipulated by His words and because of His character. He’s a promise keeper, they say, and here is His promise in black and white, so I know I can ask for a beach house in Malibu and He HAS to come through for me or else.

Clearly a good number of His promises have been misunderstood by the very people who claim to be His followers. Meanwhile His pesky commandments so out of step with society at large, seem to be twisted or ignored, which is easy to do since fewer and fewer people read them for themselves. Consequently, if someone of standing comes along and says Jesus was this or that, thousands believe no matter if the this is a lie or the that a fabrication.

So what can we say about Jesus? Maybe the best thing would be to spend more time reading God’s Word so Jesus has the final say on the matter. 😀

Published in: on February 28, 2011 at 6:04 pm  Comments (4)  
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4 Comments

  1. What do I have to say about who this Jesus is?

    You are absolutely correct in your words. The above scripture-one I have used on occasion to make the exact point concerning what we could call Him, the thing’s He has done-praise God for His Word.

    I will say this and it is quoting your very own words:

    “So what can we say about Jesus? Maybe the best thing would be to spend more time reading God’s Word so Jesus has the final say on the matter.”

    Indeed.

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  2. Its interesting that you are blogging about God, Jesus and the gospel the last few days in view of the recent controversy over Rob Bell’s new book (Love Wins: A Book About Heaven, Hell, and the Fate of Every Person Who Ever Lived).

    Thank you Becky for standing up for truth.

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  3. Was and Is and Will Be misunderstood… by those who most forcefully claim to know the truth, while quickly and dismissively judging the rest of misunderstanding… or worse.

    The Church seems to be in civil-war and neither side really understands Jesus… and I’m not sure they want to. They just seem to want to be “right”. Not meaning right in truth or right with God- just meaning having the power and influence of the day to cause others to believe they are right and everyone else is wrong. Each has their own god-in-a-box they think everyone should believe in.

    I had not heard about the controversy Morgan mentioned, so I looked into it and now feel sick over it. I suppose that is why I am saying this here. I have no objection to anything Becky said, I’m just expressing myself in a place that seems safe to do so.

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  4. Patrick, I’m so glad you feel like this is a safe place to express your reaction.

    I had to look up the controversy Morgan mentioned, too. And I was grieved as well.

    Thing is, I don’t know what motivates different people to say what they say — maybe some bloggers or pastors just want to be right and maybe they have evangelistic fervor to tell people what they believe.

    Is it wrong that they disagree? Would it be better if they disagreed silently? Is absence of conflict the highest good? (And I do not mean those to be rhetorical questions, except for that last one. 😉 )

    My answer to pretty much everything is for us to go to the Bible and see what’s what. What else do we have? Tradition? That changes. Logic? That can be misapplied. Hope? That can be misguided.

    I don’t see anything that is sure and unchanging other than God and His Word.

    Many will criticize believers who cling to the Bible because it is open to interpretation. And the because clause in that previous sentence is true. People handle the Bible in all kinds of ways. Some throw out the parts they disagree with. Others explain away the parts that seem to contradict ones they believe.

    In reality, the Bible interprets the Bible. So the hard parts need to be looked at based on what the clear parts say.

    And still, some honest scholars walk away, some believing one thing and some the direct opposite.

    However, that men cannot agree is not the fault of the Bible. In many instances, the two people taking divergent views still agree on the essentials of the faith. The points of disagreement are on issues that are secondary.

    This discussion centered around Rob Bell’s promotion video, however, is dealing with one of the essentials — who is saved?

    I don’t think this is a matter of Scripture being unclear on this point, so I tend to look at the issue as a non-controversy. Rather, one group believes the Bible and the other apparently believes only the easy parts of the Bible. In other words, Rob Bell is evidently starting from a different place than John Piper or Kevin DeYoung are.

    Take a look at this part of Pastor Bell’s video text as transcribed by Pastor DeYoung:

    millions and millions of people were taught that the primary message, the center of the gospel of Jesus, is that God is going to send you to hell unless you believe in Jesus. And so what gets subtly sort of caught and taught is that Jesus rescues you from God. But would kind of God is that, that we would need to be rescued from this God? How could that God ever be good? How could that God ever be trusted? And how could that ever be good news?

    To arrive at “what is God like,” the question that initiated this segment, Pastor Bell uses a persuasive line of questions that follow a logical progression. The problem is, they clash with God’s revelation of Himself. It doesn’t matter whether what we perceive leads us to believe God is good, because we already know He is good based on Scripture’s clear statements, even as He can be trusted, and that His plan of salvation is indeed good news.

    The house of cards rests on the notion that Jesus rescues us from God, as if Jesus is the good cop instead of being God incarnate, God come down to rescue us Himself from what our sin brought on our heads.

    Lost in this line of thinking completely is the idea that Man deserves punishment, that we actually are sinners, that we do fall short. Rather, it casts man in the light of the poor innocent who just doesn’t know how to jump through the proper hoops to get to a safe zone. This is clearly a misrepresentation of the facts.

    And that’s what makes me sick. How can we who profess the name of Christ turn from the truth when we have it in black and white, translated into our own language for easy understanding?

    But sadly, we are just like the people of Israel who had God’s presence in their camp as fire by night and a cloud by day — along with a host of miracles — and they ended up deciding they knew what was best when it came to protecting their children, and it definitely did not include going up against giants.

    When will we learn? It’s not our call. God is the judge and He gets to decide the destiny of the wicked.

    What we should do is mourn for the dying world and preach the gospel faithfully and pray diligently.

    Becky

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