The Jesus Who Isn't

Jesus: likable guy.

Kid’s loved him. Folks crushed close just to be near him. He was accused of having too much fun. He was the life of the party. He even brought life back to dead parties. Literally.

He rebelled against the status quo while making peace between us and God, our Great Judge. He called out sin while paying the price for it’s penalty. He enjoyed being among us only to be broken by us.

Jesus: what’s not to like? 

That depends. Do we like the Jesus who is? Or the Jesus who isn’t?

When we don’t like Jesus—most the time—it’s because we’ve got the wrong Jesus. The Jesus who isn’t.

That’s the Jesus who won't do what we want, how we want it, and when we want it.

That’s the Jesus who can't do what we want. It’d be sinful or just plain bad for us.

When Jesus isn't who we think or doesn't do what we want, we tend not to like him.

Who does that reveal more about? Jesus? Or us?

We tend to like the Jesus who isn’t. The Jesus who isn’t real, but is a god of our own creation. The Jesus we’ve fashioned, according to our own image or understanding. If only he’d perform as we like! But, of course, that’s the Jesus who isn’t.

How do we get to know the Jesus who is? Simple: read our Bible, lots, to be challenged and changed; pray, to be empty of self and full of him. Simple, yet not easy. That’s the Jesus who is.

Too Smart

Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead (John 11:43-44). The crowds, attracted by Jesus’ power, are more amazed than ever. The Sanhedrin, scared by Jesus’ authority, are more homicidal than ever. The crowds welcome Jesus as King. The Sanhedrin plot to kill him (John 11:53). They made plans to kill Lazarus as well. Too many people believing in Jesus because of him (John 12:10-11).

Jesus raises a man from the dead. The Sanhedrin want to put them both to death. 

Jesus exercises supernatural authority. The Sanhedrin want to protect their temporal authority. 

Now it’s what we know as Palm Sunday. Jesus has made his Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. The crowds may have seen him as the Messiah come to his people. We see him as the Savior come to all peoples.

John 12:19 records the frustrated words of some Pharisees, members of the Sanhedrin,

See, this is getting us nowhere.

Look how the whole world has gone after him!

The whole world has gone after him.

The whole world.

Every culture in the world, anthropology teaches, have some sort of God or gods. People everywhere—no matter their language or location—know somehow that there is life outside of this life, power beyond know power, and some creator/s that formed humanity and all the earth.

As Romans 1:19-20 says, “Since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.”

Not all of of those peoples believe in Jesus. Not all of them have even heard his name. Yet all of them know there is someone or something else.

All except one. One group of people patently deny the existence of God: atheists.

It is a strange phenomenon, however, that there is only place in the whole world of billions of people you find atheists: among the highly educated.

Universities, whose very name come from Latin meaning “one truth” referring directly to biblical revelation, have redefined truth and made it relative. When truth is relative, when the Bible is not authoritative, and when you are adrift in the sea of humanism, you can explain away that which seems contrarian, doesn’t fit your worldview, or makes you uncomfortable.

The whole world may go after him—Jesus—but not you. You can deny him.

Too smart for your own good.

Too smart to know God.

Written on the Ground

"The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in the act of adultery," John 8:3 records.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees wanted to trap Jesus. Asking him to judge a case that needed no appeal. If he said she should not be stoned, then he was breaking the Law of Moses. If he said she should be stoned, then he could be guilty of inciting the Jews and breaking the Law of Rome.

On the horns of a dilemma.

What does Jesus do?

He stoops down and writes on the ground.

What did Jesus write?

Did he merely draw a doodle in embarrassment? Hardly likely. Did he list the sins of the accusers? Could be. Did he write the names of woman who the accusers had adulterous relations with or thoughts of? Possibly. Did he first write the charge before reading it in the custom of Roman judges? The condemning, "If any of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her," of John 8:7? He may have. Did he write Exodus 23:1&7 about being a malicious witness or bringing false charges? That would confront them. Did he write Jeremiah 17:13, "Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust," as a condemnation of their sinfulness? We do not know.

Whatever he wrote convicted them of their sinfulness. All of us have sinned. A fact.

Whatever he wrote exposed their hypocrisy. The sin of pretending you have no sin.

The teachers of the law and the Pharisees were guilty. Hypocrites. They stood in judgment. They stood with stones. They stood as sinners. With no room to judge. They dropped their stones. And they walked away. One by one.

When Jesus confronts you with your stone in hand, what is written on the ground before him?

What is your sin? Where is your hypocrisy?

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