Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Line in the Sand: 4 ways to recognize Jesus' true identity

My daughter and I unintentionally wore matching shirts today. We each went to our respective closets to dress this morning and came out wearing our t-shirts from VBS this summer. VBS (vacation Bible school) was a lot of fun at our church this year. We used Lifeway’s Agency D3 curriculum – a spy-themed week in which our Special Agent kids investigated the truth of who Jesus really is.

Our high-energy VBS week wrapped up so we prepared for our next big event of the summer. Missionary friends are staying with us for a few days while they are home in the States. Michael B., the husband/dad part of this crew, spoke at church on Sunday. He didn’t know we had wrapped up VBS only a week earlier with a focus on who Jesus is. And yet, the Spirit led him to preach on the question, “Who is Jesus?” After all, as our friend said during his message, “Missions is the job of getting the gospel to and making disciples of those who have not yet heard. Central to that message is the identity of who Jesus is.”

This recent focus on Jesus’ identity reminded me of some Twitter criticism I received a few months ago. I tweeted the following from “Everything We Need,”

To which I received some of the following,

To be honest, in four years of publicly posting my thoughts on Jesus – freedom in Him and living for Him – this is the only criticism I’ve received. It makes sense though that the rejection would come in response to a declaration of who Jesus is. After all, our view of Jesus’ identity defines us as His followers; it is the line in the sand that separates and distinguishes us from all other religions.

Who is Jesus?

Few people deny the existence of Jesus. After all, the non-biblical historical evidence of a man from Nazareth named Jesus who caused quite a disturbance in Roman controlled Israel during the first century is extensive. But do we care? And if we do, why?

I didn’t come up with these reasons. They’re pretty standard to Christianity. I’m presenting them here as Lifeway publishers did in their Agency D3 VBS…

  • Jesus is the Son of God.

Many people are fine with saying Jesus was a man from Nazareth; they aren’t OK with saying He is God. The above mentioned tweet is a perfect example of this. However, God Himself spoke from Heaven and declared that Jesus was His Son. “And there came a voice from heaven: This is My beloved Son. I take delight in Him!” (Matthew 3:17).

  • Jesus is more than just a good man.

Several religions view Jesus as a good man. He did good things for the people around Him, lived a good life, and taught some good ways to live. But He is more. Those good things He did were miraculous. It is a good deed to feed over 5,000 hungry people; it is a miracle to do so with only five loaves of bread and two fish. It is a good deed to help people with medical problems; miracles occur though when the dead are raised back to life. Teaching people to trust is a good teaching; it is a miracle when you teach them while walking on water. Read Mark 6 for more.

  • Jesus was a dead man.

That may not seem like a significant point. After all, everyone dies. Some people like to think that Jesus didn’t die on the Roman cross, though. A Roman crucifixion was one of the most brutal executions ever known. The Romans knew what they were doing. No one came down off their cross until soldiers had proven they were dead. The issue really isn’t whether or not Jesus died – the Roman officials made sure He did. The issue is why did He die? How was He able to predict the time and method of His death? The Roman centurion who beheld Jesus’ dead body on the cross answered these questions when He declared, “This man really was God’s Son!” (Mark 15:39).

  • Jesus is a living man.

Like I said, everyone dies. Thanks to Jesus, a few people have even come back to life only to die again later. Only Jesus the Messiah resurrected Himself from the dead to never die again. He lives in Heaven even today. Read Luke 24:36-48 and Acts 1:10-11.

Is it undeniable?

My original Tweet declared that Jesus is God’s Son and I went on to say that this is undeniable. One response declared Jesus not to be God while the other points out that over 70% of the world’s population disagrees with me. So is it undeniable?
The answer takes place in two different times. One is here and now; the other is there and then.

As the above tweeter mentions, about 30% of the people in the world have already realized they can’t deny the true identity of Jesus as the living, miraculous Son of God. They have stood at the foot of the cross, like the Roman centurion, and declared, “This man really was God’s Son!”

For the other 70%, hopefully some of them will join the 30% in the here and now. But if they choose not to recognize Jesus’ true identity here and now, the decision awaits them there and then. And then they too will realize they cannot deny Jesus’ true identity.

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