Let's Talk about Jesus ~ Matthew 4.25; Titus 1.1-4; Colossians 1.15-18
It wasn't that long ago, I went to lunch with two soccer moms-one who was born and raised in Japan. When she learned a little about me, she quietly said, 'I am a good candidate to be a Christian.' 'Oh, why is that?' I casually asked, taking a bite of one very great taco. 'Well because I went all of my school years to a Catholic school, and I know a lot about Jesus.' 'Well then, why don't you believe in him?' I asked. 'Oh I do, but I don't want to abandon my other gods. See in my country, we have the Shinto religion, and we believe in many gods. We pray to different gods for individual things such as fertility, weddings, and at the time of death-things like that. I don't want to miss out on those things,' and then she lowered her eyelids and rather demurely chuckled.
To most Western Christians, the idea of many gods seems foreign at the outset, but in practice, I think our culture has become rather polytheistic, whether we know or recognize the reality. Oh, we don't want to offend, and we must be open-minded(!), so we think that Jesus-plus-other things can't be too harmful ... right? You know what I'm saying - Jesus + positive thinking . . . Jesus + some Buddhist principles . . . Jesus + New Age beliefs . . . etc., then, we've got all the bases covered too, just like my soccer mom friend. 'And of course I believe Jesus was a great moral teacher!'
However, it does not work, because that kind of thinking is antithetical to a Holy God. Have you read the Ten Commandments lately? The first one reads: "You shall have no other gods before me." No idols, no bowing down, no worship of another god ... period. Why? Because God said, I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God1. And then of course, in Colossians, Paul explains the supreme position of the Son of God, in relation to God the Father~
"Now Christ is the visible expression of the invisible God. He existed before creation began, for it was through him that every thing was made, whether spiritual or material, seen or unseen. Through him, and for him, also, were created power and dominion, ownership and authority. In fact, every single thing was created through, and for him. He is both the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation." J.B. Phillips New Testament Colossians 1.15-18
Hmmm . . . No other gods before him. Ponder that a moment. Jesus, Son of God, Creator of all things--external and internal, visible and invisible - he who has always been ... equal with God the Father and the Holy Spirit ... he who says, 'You shall have no other gods before me.' Jesus plus nothing.
First five essentials of the Christian Faith in brief (upcoming):
1. God is eternal ~ no beginning, no end.
2. God is triune ~ Father, Son, Holy Spirit
3. God is the Creator.
4. Sin separated us from God.
5. Grace ~ God's redemption plan.
6. God's instrument of grace was Jesus Christ, God Incarnate.
Jesus was born of a virgin, foretold by the prophet Isaiah--chapter 7, verse 14. Jesus was fully human, fully divine. The birth of Jesuswas announced to Joseph by the angel, Matthew 1.21; Matthew 3.17
Eternal life was made possible for us because of Jesus' death on the cross.
Jesus' suffering was foretold by the prophet Isaiah . . . 53.1-6. Philippians 2.8; John 3.16
7. Jesus Christ did what he said he would do -- he rose from the grave! All of Christianity hangs on the Resurrection. Check the historians of the day--not just the writers of Scripture. The Resurrection was a recognized miraculous occurrence. We serve a risen Savior. Yes! 1 Corinthians 15.3-4; Acts 2.23-24àPeter was speaking to a large crowd, who would have shouted him down, were these things not known and accepted: Jesus was crucified, and he rose from the grave.
After the resurrection, Jesus appeared to the disciples and others.
Jesus assured his loved ones that he had indeed done what he told them he would do. John 20.27; 1 Corinthians 15.5-6; Acts 1.3
8. Jesus Christ ascended into Heaven to return to the right hand of the Father.
He stayed with the disciples and friends 40 more days, and then assumed his rightful place in glory. Acts 1.9-11. What a glorious homecoming it must have been! Can you just picture God the Father welcoming home his beloved Son?
9. Christ will come again-in the same way he left-in the clouds.
This is not the end of the story . . . one day, Christ is coming back for his children. 1Thessalonians 4.16-17; Acts 1.11
And Paul goes on to say that besides creating all things, Jesus also redeemed us-saved us from ourselves, from sin, from eternal separation from God: "For God in all his fullness was pleased to live in Christ, and...now he has reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body. As a result, he has brought you into his own presence, and you are holy and blameless."2
We must never add something to Jesus; it must never be Jesus - plus - anything else. Nor can we ever say he was just a great teacher ... realize, "You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon; or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God. But let us not come up with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."3
May God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior give you grace and peace~4
1 Exodus 20.3-5 Thou shalt have no other gods before me. That is absolute, no room for gray. What other 'gods' get in between you and the Almighty God? 2) Colossians 1.22; 3) C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity; 4) Titus 1.4
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