From our believing eyes, through the retrospective of time and history, of course Jesus was the Messiah, Son of God, sent to redeem mankind! But what did the first-century world do with the arrival of Jesus?
John writes, “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. 11 He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. 12 But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”
How is it that Jesus came to his own people—steeped in the Scriptures, actually looking for a Messiah, regularly celebrating symbolic holy-days awaiting his arrival, and they rejected him? WHY DID THE JEWS REJECT JESUS? Because Jesus came humbly. The Jews were expecting someone who would free them from the tyranny of the harsh Roman government … a messiah who would make them into a world power again, like they had been under King David. They were expecting a conquering king, not a baby born in a manger to a peasant woman and her humble husband. He simply did not fit the mold so many had in their minds. (Though also do not forget that all of the first believers were Jewish.)
Here’s the thing: when Jesus came to earth, born as a human being, grown to be a man, he came to establish the kingdom of God in the hearts of men. Jesus showed us the way to live, he taught about it, and then he gave up his life, so that we might live with him forever. The Jews had nothing in their minds about a dying messiah, so they rejected him. The next time Jesus comes, however—his second coming—he will come as conquering king, not as a baby and not humbly. It will be with trumpet fanfare and blast, in the clouds for all to see and hear. Clearly, events in the world seem to indicate that Jesus may be coming sooner than later.
But I have been thinking … Christians reject Jesus these days too. Huh? Every time Christians adopt a little of ‘this’ from one false teaching [i.e. spirituality], and a little of ‘that’ from another, they reject Jesus Christ. When Jesus said, I am the way, the truth, and the life … he finished the sentence this way, no one comes to the Father, except through me. John 14.6
While we should be tolerant of people of all faiths, we must not adapt biblical Christianity to make their beliefs correct. What is correct? Read the aforementioned statement made by Jesus. It is clear and very straightforward. It is not Jesus + anything else.
Your attention? Do not confuse the word ‘tolerant’. Love people, accept them where they are for whatever they believe or don’t believe, but don’t make a paradigm shift in your own mind to say ‘it is all the same … as long as people believe in God, that is all that matters.’ That is false. It might be all that matters to make a nicer, gentler society, but if we are talking about Christianity and we are—then what matters is absolute truth.
It was not God the Father’s plan for Jesus to die if there were more than one way to get to Heaven … if so, that would make him cruel at best. Jesus would not have suffered as he did, if other ways were just as good … if sincerity were enough. No, he said it quite clearly, no one comes to the Father except through me.
Lord, would you show us how to live in truth and with grace? There are people we will encounter today who are dying inside for want of both truth and grace - someone to point them to you and tell them how to get there. Looking around there is much hopelessness, and without you, darkness. Thank you for being the Light and the Life and our salvation. Give us opportunities to share you. Amen.
Let's live with grace and in truth,