Thursday, April 17, 2008

Jesus is Not a Religion - Part 1

As I share my thoughts about Jesus and religion, I realize that this will amount to much less than an exhaustive account. However, I do hope to cover some things that I think are of significant importance. Mainly I want to point out the stark contrast between Jesus and religion. As I said in the introduction, God didn't give us a religion. He gave His Son. I hope to show how Jesus is much more than simply some great historical figure and much more than some spiritual or religious leader.

There is indeed a lot to know about Jesus! But just because He is "big" and the reality of His being covers more than we'll ever know, that doesn't mean that everything that people think about Him is true. There are a lot of things that are not true about Jesus. Religion (and "non-religion") have cast Jesus in so many different ways that may or may not seem good and right, but either way are far off from what the scriptures reveal to us about Him. I personally don't want to invent my own "truth" about Jesus. I don't want to believe what I believe about Him just because it sounds good or feels good. In other words, I don't want to invent a Jesus who is suitable for me, but I want to look at what the scriptures actually say about Him.

I realize a wide variety of people may be reading this. Whoever you are - it's up to you whether or not you believe what the Bible says. But if we can at least agree that the Bible does say a lot about Jesus, then we at least have a common denominator to look at in order to get our information about Jesus. If I'm simply preaching to the choir here, then I hope you'll enjoy and find great encouragement here as we're reminded of just Who our Savior is! And if you're someone who has somehow come up with your own preconceived notions about who Jesus is (as opposed to actually looking into the scriptures) or if you're someone who hasn't really given Jesus much thought, then I think you'll be quite surprised to hear what the Bible actually says about Him!

Jesus is I AM
Let me start by pointing out that Jesus didn't simply appear on the scene 2,000 years ago! We all know the Christmas story, and how Mary was conceived by the Holy Spirit and gave birth to the baby Jesus. That was simply the beginning of Jesus' 33 years on earth as a man. Any religion can make the claim that their leader was born as a human being!

But can any religion make this claim about their leader? "...Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross." (Phil 2:6-8)

There is so much to draw out of the above passage of scripture, but the thing I want to point out is that if Jesus was in the form of God before He came in the likeness of man, that means that Jesus existed before He came in the likeness of man. Before He was born as a baby, He already "was."

And let me tell you, it gets even better than simply knowing that He "pre-existed." There are many scriptures that show us that Jesus was and is more than just a man, but let me highlight just a few.

When Jesus was being questioned by some Jews about who He was (as recorded in John 8), they said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and You have seen Abraham?"

Jesus's response to them was, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM."

That might sound like a strange answer, but it might make more sense in light of an experience Moses had. When Moses had asked God who he should say was sending him to the children of Israel, God said to Moses, "I AM WHO I AM... Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, "I AM has sent me to you." (Exodus 3:14)

That might start to give a picture of who Jesus is. But how about this:

In Isaiah 44, the LORD YHWH (Yahweh) reveals Himself, saying, "I am the First and I am the Last; besides Me there is no God."

Then in Revelation 1:18, Jesus is speaking to John and He says, "Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last. I am He who lives, and was dead, and behold, I am alive forevermore."

This same voice (Jesus) had just finished saying, in Revelation 1:11, "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last." Later, in Revelation 21:6-7, God is speaking and He says, "I am the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End... He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son.

Are there two Alphas and two Omegas? Are there two Beginnings and two Ends? Are there two Firsts and two Lasts? How can both YHWH and Jesus refer to themselves as all of these things? It's pretty simple. The two are one. It makes quite a lot of sense that Jesus would say, "I and My Father are one." (John 10:30). Again, Jesus is not a religion!

The last bit of biblical evidence that I'll share that shows that Jesus is more than a mere man is found in Colossians 1:15-17. This is perhaps what would amaze people the most, who don't already know this about Jesus:

Speaking of Jesus, this passage says, "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together."

You want to know who created all things? You want to know for whom all things were created? You want to know who holds all things together? It's in the above passage. Jesus!

Jesus is not a religion. Trusting Him or believing in Him is not a matter of being religious or following a religion. It's a matter of knowing the One who is the Creator. God didn't create us for religion. God created us to know Him. (More on that later). Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me."

Are Christians being exclusive or intolerant or self-righteous or arrogant when they claim Jesus is the way to God? Of course not. They are simply pointing to the good news of the One who was alive and then died and then is alive again forevermore! He is the One who provided the way (who is the way) for anyone and everyone who will simply trust in Him to have eternal life.

1 comment:

  1. Good article. Knowing Jesus is knowing Truth. Religion is full of truths but not necessarily knowing Jesus. You may want to read and comment on "How Free Are You" @ the about the difference.