“When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” Then he asked them, “But who do you say I am?”
–Matthew 16 13-15 (NLT)
Do you remember the days when everyone had manual transmissions in their cars? The speed of your car was determined by the position of the gearshift. Whenever you saw the need to let your car idle for a while, you would usually put the gearshift in the Neutral position.
Throughout my life, I’ve noticed that many people have put their opinions regarding Jesus into neutral as well. Instead of choosing to worship Him, they’ve decided to merely tolerate or ignore him. I’d like to examine some of these neutral opinions, and I hope to get you driving in the right direction after you’ve read my thoughts.
After listening to someone talk about issues of popular opinion, I decided to look on the Internet and see what Americans are saying about Jesus. While you may think we live in an enlightened age, nothing is really new about the questions concerning Him.
Before I address these questions, I’d like to ask you a question: Who would you believe if you were writing a news story? Would you believe someone who was at the scene of the crime, or someone who came along a few days later?
It’s true that other documents have been found which some may say shed new light on the carpenter from Nazareth, but most of these cannot be trusted. Let me give you two reasons why.
First, the pseudo-Christian documents which have been excavated were not written by any of the apostles, or by their close associates. That means that they would not have had a first-hand knowledge of what was going on in the life of Jesus, and so they could not give an accurate record.
Secondly, most Christian and non-Christian scholars date these documents to the second and third centuries, long after the time of Christ. What comes to light is that these documents were not lost. Rather, they were counterfeits that the early church had rejected as false. The early Christians did not have scripture written down as we do, so they had to sort out truth from error.
Speaking of sorting out the truth from the lies, some people aren’t sure if they want to believe in the great truth of Jesus Christ. While many people down through the ages have tried to straddle the fence when it comes to Jesus, this is impossible.
If you’ve ever tasted a lukewarm beverage, you’ll know where I am coming from. Imagine that you’ve ordered a drink that is not heated or cooled properly. Upon tasting it you cough, turn up your nose, and promptly head back to the counter to order a new drink.
The same is true when it comes to our commitment to Christ. We cannot be lukewarm about it. In other words, we have to be on one side of the fence or the other. The Bible clearly states that each of us can either be for Jesus or against Him. There is no middle ground. But sadly, many people throughout history have tried to do just that by calling Christ a wonderful and possibly prophetic teacher, but refusing to call Him the son of God. These people may choose to put Him into one of three categories.
Either Jesus was a madman who should have been put away, a liar like the world has never seen, or He was who He said He was.
Jesus clearly was not mad, for He gave profound answers to the religious leaders and important folks of that day. These answers often stumped them, and they went away completely amazed. The gospels also record how the people marveled at Jesus’ teaching, so these two examples alone show that this idea must be discarded.
Secondly, if you say Christ’s claims were not true and just walk away, that’s one thing, but if you have the guts, I challenge you to look further into this matter. If you really want to know whether Jesus was misrepresenting Himself or not, see what the Old Testament scriptures have to say about Him. These speak of His virgin birth, suffering and death for our sins, and His being enthroned forever. Furthermore, history records that everything Jesus said about Himself came true.
If you will explore the claims of Christ with an open mind, you will see that Jesus came down from heaven as God’s son veiled in human flesh. He did this because He had a pure love for us which drove Him to the cross, a love that ushers us into God’s presence. Being impure, you and I reject that love, and try to work our way to a holy God. Since we can’t pull ourselves up to heaven by our own bootstraps, Jesus rose on the third day and triumphed over death.
I hope that you will examine His claims, tasting what He has to offer,for the Bible says that God is good. After you have done that, why not call out to a loving God, exchanging that lukewarm life for a new heart? God is waiting to welcome you to His family!
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