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"Why Jesus?"                                  30/6/13

These notes are a work in progress, the beginning of an answer for the question "Why Jesus?"

The question of "Why Jesus" came into my mind. Was He really important for a relationship with God? At the time I dismissed the thought instead of bringing an argument against it. If I had brought an argument against it, I would've been better prepared when someone suggested to me that if we forgot about Jesus, the religions would get on better together and there would be more peace. So here is an argument for the question, "Is Jesus that important?"

Would there be more peace?
Our history demonstrates that people made war before Jesus was born as a human and revealed who He is in our history ... and people were very "religious" then and the world was not free of wars.

Jesus didn't come just to make everyone live happily together, which tends to be the kind of peace people want. He said He didn't give peace as the world gives it (John 14:27). His was peace within a person and with God. It is a peace that can break down or produce walls between people. Jesus recognized his words would bring division even within families when he said, "Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword" (Matthew 10:34). The word of God according to Biblical records is "sharper than any double-edged sword" (Hebrews 4:12). It has a divisive attribute, "dividing soul and spirit" judging the thoughts and attitudes of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12). A person may think their own way is good and not want their "thoughts judged" which can lead them in the opposite direction to others (Proverbs 14:12). The result can be a separation. The peace Jesus promised His disciples can be experienced in all kinds of situations, even divisive ones.

Someone suggested to me that the religions would get on better together if they all replaced the word "God" with something like "Goodness" or "Love," but that would mean removing the person-hood. We tend to think of goodness as an attribute and not someone we can communicate with. Love is not an adequate word either because although it is written that "God is love," God also "hates" (Proverbs 6:16). To those who wanted to see God, Jesus said, "If you have seen me, you have seen the Father. "Love needs a context to be seen and God was revealed in the context of a person, Jesus, and his relationship with his father, God. He himself recognized He would be a stumbling block for some (Luke 7:23). The first Christians too, spoke truly when they said Jesus was a stumbling block to some(1 Corinthians 1:23).

Who should go to heaven and what does Jesus have to do with it?

Some people think that everyone who is good should go to heaven and some try hard limiting pleasures of all kinds in order to qualify. But where would the cut-off point be in this system? Who would determine what is "good" and who is good enough? Jesus said, "No one is good except God alone" (Luke 18:19 ).

In the crucifixion of Jesus we see how "good" the world behaves towards God and each other. Even the people God chose were instrumental in His crucifixion. The crowd, who experienced miracles they attributed to God, didn't cry out on behalf of Jesus. Some in fear turned away and some no doubt were crowd pleases. Surely this reveals the goodness and love of God, when, knowing the human condition, humankind's lack of goodness, God provided a way to overcome this. In Christ, the way was opened up for all people to have the Spirit of God, Jesus' Spirit within them. This Pentecostal act, was a gift of "goodness." It made up for humankind's lack of goodness. But a gift still needs to be accepted to be of any use.

Why Jesus?

The first Christians recognized the importance of Jesus, not just as another prophet, or a good person, and not only the Son of God, but the reason why human beings can now have eternal life. This eternal life is not just something for the future, but it can be life within a person now. 

Jesus' disciples recognized that Jesus had the words of life. No other prophet did or ever will. Jesus spoke of himself as the "I am," which was the name God revealed to Moses around 1393-1273 BCE. One of the "I am" statements Jesus made about himself was, "I am the bread of life.  Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty." (John 6:35). In John 6:47, Jesus says, "The one who believes in me has eternal life. I am the bread of life." It's not what we do that makes us worthy to "go to heaven." It's what Jesus has done for us. It's what Jesus is, in us, by His Spirit.

One of the first Christians wrote this about Jesus "It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God--that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption" (1 Corinthians 1:23). Our righteousness, holiness and redemption have been taken care of by Jesus. Why Jesus? Because He is God and came into the world as a human. He was and is and is to come. There is no other with the power to give us these things.

 

Quotes come from the New International Version Bible.