There are a lot of varying opinions about who the Jesus of the Bible is in our culture today. Is He God, a god, a demigod, demagogue, good moral example, a great teacher, my homeboy, a racist homophobe, or a fairy tale?
In reality, many believe Jesus is who you want Him to be or who You need Him to be. If you need money, a miracle, or a massage, Jesus is your guy. Or if you simply wish Jesus (and His followers for that matter) to disappear, simply wish Him out of existence or legislate Him out of every fabric of society.
But this contortion of Jesus in culture (and often in churches) is nothing new. It existed in Jesus’ own day. Jesus knew this when He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that I am” (Mark 8:27). There were misconceptions from Jesus being a great prophet to being a blaspheming lunatic. But Peter got it right (with some illumination from God the Father) when he declared, “You are the Christ” (Mark 8:29). Even the Gentile Roman Centurion recognized Jesus was no mere man when he exclaimed, “Truly this man was the Son of God” (Mark 15:39).
“WHO Jesus is has everything to do with WHAT Jesus came to do.”
Here’s the importance: who Jesus is has everything to do with what Jesus came to do. Jesus laid out His mission in Mark 10:45. “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
If Jesus is a mere man, let alone a sinful man, He accomplishes nothing on the cross but to prove He was all people misconstrued Him to be. But since He is the Messiah (Christ), the Son of God (Mark 1:1), He can give His life a ransom for many who cannot save themselves from the bondage of sin they are lost in. Jesus as human, Messiah, can identify with those He came to save–namely all who put their faith in Him. Jesus as God, Son of God, can die sinlessly for sinners—namely you and I.
Without both Jesus’ divine and human nature, we are best left with a moral guru who is like Gumby—bent, twisted and distorted to no longer be the King of the Universe and Redeemer of our souls. We need a Savior and deliverer, Lord and King, and that is what we get in the true biblical Jesus.
In light of this, ponder carefully C.S. Lewis’s famous sage challenge penned in his book, Mere Christianity. Let it challenge your thinking about who Jesus and how we should respond to Him:
“I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t accept his claim to be God. That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic — on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg — or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice.
Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”