My Lord and My God……….More like Him or More like Us?
He entered into the hall where a strangely elated mood prevailed fed by the strangest of talk - everyone in the hall was talking of having seen the Messiah! He could not believe it! Just how could he? Had he not witnessed the Master’s death on the cross in all its cruel gory detail and seen Him buried? He knew very well that The Teacher was dead. How then could they say that they had seen Jesus? They must be dreaming or were victims of some mass hallucination. But - could it be? Was it really true?
Just then, He looked around and who was there, the Messiah Himself!
“My Lord and my God...” was all he could say when he beheld Him.
“You believe because you see me, blessed is he that believes even though he sees not,” was The Master’s simple but profound answer.
Thomas beheld Him in awe, because He saw Jesus for who He was. It was the first time that any of the disciples ever addressed Jesus as both Lord and God. Further, Thomas personalized it - “My Lord and My God”.
What would be your reaction today if Jesus appeared to you? Would you be able to call Him ‘My Lord and My God?’ What ‘version’ of Jesus do you know or were introduced to? Do you know Him as the Lord and God or someone else? Will you recognize Jesus when He Himself appears on the last day? Will you be shocked to see Him as He is on that day or will you recognize Him as He you have walked with in your life on earth? Will you really know Him? When you see Him, will you like Thomas say, ‘My Lord and my God’ or will you run away in fearful terror? When you evaluate the music that you listen to, the preachers that you listen to, the books that you read, what Jesus do they portray? Is it the Biblical Jesus or a different ‘Jesus’? This article is meant to help us explore the scriptures to see whether we have ‘versions’ of Jesus out there that are not the Biblical Jesus and how to tell whether the Jesus you know is indeed the Biblical Jesus.
A few weeks to Thomas day of delightful recognition, Jesus had made a very profound prayer for His disciples and for those who would later know Him through them. He made a very passionate appeal to God that His disciples would know Him as the only TRUE God praying thus: "Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. (John 17:1-4)
This was the only mission that Jesus had on earth! It will surprise you to note that by the time Jesus was making this prayer, He had not yet died on the cross. He still had that task ahead of Him. Yet in this scripture He says: “I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do.” He seems to say that He had finished the work that He had been given to do. So what was this work that He had been given? He says I glorified you on earth! Yes, to glorify God, to make Him known, to make Him famous - if you like. That was Jesus Christ’s mission - to make His father known on earth. Everything He did boiled down to that one mission. Going to the cross was the climax of making His Father known. And he goes further to say: “this is eternal life that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent”. So do you know Him? Do you truly know Him?
As though desiring to gauge public reaction to His ministry and revelation of God’s love for them, Jesus asks His disciples what people said of Him, who people thought He was. At face value, one would think that when Jesus asked this question, His greatest concern was what the public thought of Him. However a close scrutiny of the text and in particular the question He poses thereafter and His subsequent comments suggest otherwise: Jesus was more interested in whom the disciples perceived Him to be.
13Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" 14And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." 15He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" 16Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." 17And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:13-17)
See how He personalizes the question to the disciples - “But who do you say that I am?”. It sounds like, ‘Ok guys, that is what other people say (and it is not as important to me as this), what do you (in whom I have invested so much) think of me? Who do you say that I am?’ Jesus is concerned by how the people who are called by His name - Christians - know Him.
Note Jesus’ response to Peter: “For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven”. Do you have a revelation of Jesus that is by the Father Himself? Is what you know about Jesus and the Jesus you know from the right source - God, the Father Himself?
Below is an exploration of some of the wrong concepts of Jesus we have.
The Cool Jesus
“Will you follow me?” Jesus asks.
“Are you on tweeter?” the boy replies.
Ever read the above naughty joke on the internet of Jesus speaking to a teenager? In a time when salvation is the cool thing to do, church is awesome and gospel ‘inambamba’, we need to think seriously about the obsession with “cool” and how it has affected our understanding of Jesus Christ. Is Jesus really cool? If He lived on earth in our time, would He be on tweeter like the teenager above is asking? Would he sag his jeans, wear a hood and black shades and bling bling? Would He conform to our culture as it is? This may be a very difficult question to answer, yet it must be asked - are we becoming more like Jesus or are we fashioning Jesus to be more like us? On which side of the divide are we - the Lord’s (where Jesus is Lord and number one) or the world’s (where our will and fleshly dictates rule)? On which side should we be?
The attempt to make Jesus “cool” is mostly done in the misguided interest of being relevant, conforming to the standards of our world and times. We want to make Jesus relevant to our culture, to our way of life and thinking. There's nothing wrong with relevance. The relevance of the gospel is not in doubt; what is in doubt is our definition of relevance. Modern views of relevance are dangerously distorted and will lead us into trouble. God’s word as revealed in The Bible meets every person's need. It's never out of date, it is never old fashioned, and it is always relevant. But when relevance borders on conformity then definitely it is not bible-compliant, it is not Christ-compatible, and it is not Church-possible! It is worldly, it is irreverent and it is dishonoring of God when (in the name of being ‘cool’) we even have secular music in church in the name of attracting non-believers to ‘Jesus’, when (in the guise of ‘cool’) we even go ahead and add ‘Christian lyrics’ to popular secular music to make non-believers ‘feel at home’.
What are the consequences of this kind of thinking about Jesus?
· You will have a wrong concept of Jesus: you would conceptualize Him wrongly
Since Jesus will be cool to you, you will never see the Majestic King, the Almighty Father, the Lord of Lords, this Kingdom’s King, the Ruler of the entire universe and the all knowing God that Jesus is. You will miss this because of your concept of Him, and when He appears on the day of the Great Appearing, you will not KNOW Him! Neither will He know nor acknowledge you.
· You will relate to Him casually: The cool culture is a casual culture.
You will relate with him like your other cool friends. You will give Him names that you think are ‘cool’ and that will distort your theology of God.
God is supreme in power and authority, and in mercy but also greatly supreme in wrath. He is the same God who kicked Adam and Eve out of Eden because they went against His word (Genesis 3); He poured out judgment and wrath on Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 18:20- 19:28); God consumed the sons of Aaron for lighting the wrong fire (Leviticus 10:1-3); God gave up King Saul in battle for his disobedience (1 Chronicles 10:13); God took the life of the child of David born in adultery (2 Samuel 12:1-20); God crushed the armies of Israel his chosen people and sent them into slavery for many years; God took the life of the youth who mocked the prophet of God Elijah for being bald head (2 Kings 2:24); God went silent and turned His face away from the priests and the nation for 400 years because of their sin and later when they had crucified the Son of God and rejected the message of the cross, God turned to the Gentiles and left ignorant Israel groping in darkness; he is still the same God who killed Ananias and his wife for deception (Acts 5) and gave up the men and women in Romans 1 to their vile passions and desires, whose end is destruction by fire in hell!
Yet He is the same God who was the provider to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the God who delivered Israel from Egypt and fell the walls of Jericho for the armies of Joshua. This God has proved himself faithful and kind towards mankind through the ages! He is the God who demonstrates his love in this; that while we were still sinners, he sent his Son to die for us (Romans 5:8)! He is the God who not only punishes sin but also grants forgiveness for the vilest offender who truly believes and follows him. True, God is slow to anger- but He expresses His anger, and you sure don’t want to find yourself in the heat of that moment. In His wrath God does remember mercy! He is the Lion and the Lamb. This God still reigns in love and wrath.
When you see Him as cool, you will miss the True God and when He appears in the Great Appearing, you will not KNOW Him! And neither will He know and acknowledge you!
Jesus who makes me Rich!
In a time where material wealth is everything and sowing seed in the most popular gospel, we have turned to Jesus Christ solely as the supplier of our needs. We look at Him like He is the shopkeeper and we the buyers. We get whatever we need from Him as long as we can twist His arm by ‘planting a seed’. We think Jesus exists to make us rich! Most of the music that our ‘gospel musicians’ are producing in our time today is about money, how to make more money and how to get richer and how to do it quickly! Several of our pastors have also taken that route and made us believe that getting rich is God’s agenda for us. Jesus does not exist to make you rich, in the worldly definition of riches. However, He does make us rich - in spiritual, heavenly pursuits for He has “blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ Jesus; for He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. (Ephesians 1:3-4)
Jesus who Motivates me
Yet another trend today presents a Jesus that only comes to motivate me when I need Him. It does not matter what kind of life I live, all I need is Him to succeed. It actually doesn’t matter what I am pursuing, He will help me get there. One of the popular secular musicians in our country was quoted in one of the daily newspapers saying that when she wants to release a song, she prays to God to help her! Isn’t that confusion? We may as well need to know which god she is referring to here, because certainly it is not the God of the Bible! Where did we get such crooked theology of God? Do you see the many ‘motivational’ speakers in your school? What do they tell you? “You can make it; you only need to call on God”, they say. Just like that, no demands, no expectations! But truly, is that the God of the Bible? Is that how God wants us to relate with Him? To attempt to use God like a witchdoctor will not work! Does God only want us to go to Him when we need Him, when we need to pass our exams, when we do not have school fees or when things are just not working out? No! He desires more than this. He wants a personal relationship with you. He does not want you to show up when things are thick, He wants you every day. You cannot use God as a means to achieve your wickedness and greed primarily because He won’t let you; and also because God is not there to motivate you to do evil (unless of course you are speaking of another god).
Jesus ‘My boyfriend’
Another misconception existing today is the Jesus, ‘my boyfriend’ trend where teenagers (and adults too) have turned from relating to Jesus as the sovereign King to bringing him as low as their lover! I am sure you have heard several young girls (and older ladies too) say, “I am single, engaged to Jesus”. You could be wondering what is wrong with that statement seeing that Jesus calls His church His bride. Yes He does, but note who the bride here is, it’s the church of Christ, not individuals, and that makes a whole lot of difference.
How do you tell that you are relating to Jesus as your ‘boyfriend’ and not as Sovereign, the Majestic King?
· The level of your intimacy with Him: Intimacy is having a personal close relationship with someone. How do you know that you are having an intimate relationship with God? Is it by how much you cry when you worship or in prayer? Is it how well you are able to express your emotions to people about God or to God about people? Granted, we cannot relate to God without our emotions. Just as we express our love and joy to other people through our emotions, we express our love to God through our emotions. We must be fervent in spirit serving the Lord (Romans 12:11). Again we must love the LORD our God with all our heart and with all our soul and with all our might (Deuteronomy 6:5). Indeed our relationship with God depends to a significant extent on our emotions.
The critical question to ask at this point though is where is the balance? Can you rely on your emotions to truly love God? The answer is no, we are warned again that from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery. (Mark 7:21). This same heart that loves God is also the source of evil. So then can we trust it? True intimacy comes from having a relationship with Jesus through His word. This means that we have to feed our heart with His word day in day out and meditate on it day and night for us to relate with Him with true knowledge of who He is. Void of His word, the foundational revelation of who He is, we will end up having a sensual relationship with Jesus, instead of an intimate relationship with Him! What is the source of your intimacy with Jesus? Is it informed by how you feel He treats you, or how you feel about Him on that particular day, or it is how you KNOW He treats you, or how you KNOW you should walk with Him? Do your emotions inform your relationship with God, or does His word inform your emotions? Which conforms to the other?
· The Music you sing: what kind of songs do you sing? Are your songs based on how you feel about Jesus all the time? Do you sing sensual music or spiritual music? Think about the songs that you enjoy singing, can they be sang to anybody else apart from God? Let us take an example, the song Draw me close to you, can be sang to anybody else, it gives the singer a sensual relationship with God which is deceptive because the music is not written exclusively for God. It does not mention God and therefore fits to anyone including an earthly boyfriend. Music that honors God alone draws us to Him and is exclusive to Him. When you do not have an intimate relationship with Jesus, you tend to relate with Him in your emotions only. What this does is that, you will relate to Him when you feel like it, and when your emotions permit. Evaluate the music you sing, and you will be able to tell what kind of friendship you share with Jesus. Is Jesus your ‘sensual’ friend, or your Lord? Who rules your emotions, you or Him?