Although I diverted a few times since I introduced this topic, I decided it was time to revisit it. I introduced a subject I’ve been wanting to talk about is who Jesus really was. Not who we “think” he was or who people make Him out to be, but who the Jesus of the Bible was and what He actually did and said. I personally use this approach for everything I believe and teach. If there’s something I believe and it doesn’t line up with the Bible, then I must be wrong. You shouldn’t lower the Bible to match what you believe or have experienced, nor base what you believe on what someone else has experience.. We must believe God to raise our experiences to match the Bible.
Maybe this should be a separate topic, but I think there’s something that needs to be established before we really hit this hard. The books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, also known as the Gospels, were all written after Jesus rose from the dead and ascended to Heaven. However, those books were recording accounts BEFORE Jesus died, rose and ascended. What I mean is that we often read the words and works of Jesus as if they were New Testament things. They weren’t! Jesus lived under the Old Testament law, spoke in regards to Old Testament promises, yet at the same time revealed things that were going to change as a result of his pending death and resurrection. With those thoughts in mind, we really need to be careful of how we interpret what Jesus spoke. Not all of what Jesus said is applicable to Christians today. Yes, I just said not everything Jesus said should be applied to us today.
Now, before you call me the anit-Christ, you really need to re-read what I just got done explaining. Jesus spoke as one under the “law”, the old covenant, that was based on performance. We are under a different covenant that is based upon grace – the finished work of Jesus. Once Jesus had died, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven, the new covenant was then in effect, negating the old covenant or the “law” as many call it. That being stated, if we are no longer under that covenant, then things spoke up under that convent are not necessarily applicable to us who are under a DIFFERENT covenant. Can we glean truth, instruction, correction and guidance from things spoke under the Old Convenant? Of course, and we should. We just have to be careful not to apply certain things to our lives since we are not living under the same laws. Clear as mud? I’ll probably elaborate on that in the near future, but I really need to get back to the topic at hand.
One of my biggest pet peeves when it comes to a world view of Jesus, is that people will try to say that Jesus preached “love and acceptance”. OK, let me rant here for just a minute. We really need to watch out for and correct those who claim to know what Jesus taught, yet they never step foot in a church or have read a Bible consistently. How could you possible know who Jesus was or what he talked about if you’ve never met him? Simple…you can’t. So suffice it to say, Jesus never preached love and acceptance.
So after reading those scriptures, would you say Jesus preached love and acceptance? No, and those were just a few examples. In fact, out of 154 times the word Kingdom is used in the New Testament, 121 of those times it appears in the Gospels. The vast majority of those times Jesus is referring to the Kingdom of Heaven typically in a parable. Why were these issues so prevalent in his teachings? Glad you asked…
The first time that Jesus is recorded using the word “repent” is in Matthew 4:17. In the Greek, it simply means to “change one’s mind”. In other words, Jesus said, “Change your way of thinking because the Kingdom of Heaven has come to join you.” For thousands of years, Israel had thought a certain way. They had been trained to think about the Kingdom in a particular manner, in a literal sense. That the Messiah was going come and establish the Kingdom literally and overthrow the Roman government. Jesus came to tell them they were wrong. How they had interpreted things were wrong. That wasn’t very popular at the time. In fact, it’s not popular now…to tell people how they have been thinking is wrong will not win you any friends in this day and age; especially if we talked to them how Jesus talked to some of the most “religious” leader of his day. He branded those leaders as “hypocrites” and he said the were like white-washed graves that appeared nice on the outside, but inside were full of decay and deceit. He said they were the blind leading blind and they both would fall into a pit. Needless to say, Jesus was not pleased how the “leaders” of his day were representing the Kingdom. All the more important for Jesus to introduce a new way to think about Kingdom. (I cannot do it justice here or can I do as it as thorough as necessary, so I would encourage you to look into the book series that Miles Munroe has written that called Kingdom Principles and others titled similar to it.)
People will also use the incident with the woman caught in the act of adultery as an example of Jesus accepting people and probably to justify themselves in what they are doing wrong. I wouldn’t say that he accepted her for who she was, but rather didn’t condemn her for who she was or what she had done. Even when Jesus sent her away, he specifically said to her, “Go and sin no more.” He in no way shape or form approved or accepted her lifestyle. In fact the opposite was true: he told here to stop doing it. Those who are living a sinful lifestyle today will do so under the guise that Jesus is OK with how they choose to live and who they choose to love. He is most certainly not. In fact, he would do today as he did back then…tell them to stop. Would he condemn them? No. Should we? No. However at the same time, we don’t have to accept what they do as right and if we are branded as bigots or anything else they choose to brand us, then we are in good company because if they call us a bigot then they are calling Jesus a bigot.
How about the this incident in John 5:1-14? Did he seriously just say what I think he said? Oh, no he didn’t! Oh, yes he did! He basically told that man, his infirmity was a result of his sinning and if he continued to do so, he would suffer something worse. Can you imagine the backlash if we told someone with some type of debilitating disease that it was their sin that caused it? I really think they might legalize stoning for that! Yet, I’m supposed to believe Jesus preached love and acceptance? I NEVER read Jesus telling anyone to “do what makes them happy” or any type coddling response to peoples sin.
Jesus did not accept sinful lifestyles. Did he love those who sinned? Absolutely. Was he OK with their lifestyles? No. Should we love those who sin? Absolutely. Should we be OK with those lifestyles? No, nor do we have to accept other people’s or “society’s” standard of what is right and wrong. We have an absolute standard from the Word of God and that’s the one I’ll accept even if it’s inconvenient. At the same time, it does not absolve us of our duties to love others as Jesus did. Jesus never shoved his finger in someone’s face and spewed “SINNER!” all over them. He did, however, correct those that were in need of correction and said what needed to be said regardless of who it would offend.
Don’t accept anyone version of Jesus if it does not line up with only true one.