There's a lot of talk about Jesus these days. From The Da Vinci Code debate to Jesus' claims to be the only way to the Father (John chapter 14, verse 6), there's nothing like a little Jesus-talk in the lunch room to get a heated discussion going!
From professors to The Da Vinci Code
In the early 90s, a group of professors picked through the gospel accounts asking, "Did Jesus really say that?" They would bring their opinions to the table and then all would vote on the authenticity of Jesus' words. When all the votes were counted, any confidence in the words of Christ was resoundingly discredited.
The movie, The Da Vinci Code, spun another view of Jesus that comes to the staggering assertion that Jesus never claimed to be God but married and fathered a line of offspring that continues to this day.
But these "conclusions" don't just surface in the scholarly and literary worlds. It seems that most people are more than happy to think of Jesus as being what they want Him to be. Everyone is okay with a Jesus who is merely a "good teacher" or a "noble example." Even Muslims and Hindus view Jesus as a sage prophet.
Bringing an end to the Jesus party
But all this Jesus-talk hits the wall when the exclusive claims of Christ are put on the table. When Jesus claims to be the only way or when He talks about heaven and hell and judgment, the Jesus party is over! Our seemingly tolerant society is not interested in the actual claims of Christ. Happy to discuss Jesus in vague, ethereal terms, the average guy resists any thought of personal accountability to Him as Lord and Saviour.
Moving past the politically correct
And yet that's exactly what Jesus claims to be and what He calls us to embrace.
When Jesus asked Simon Peter, "Who do you say that I am?" it was no coincidence that the question was asked in Caesarea Philippi. No place could have been more threatening, politically and spiritually, to the disciples. And Jesus asked that question, not because He was uncertain about His identity or His rating in the polls, but because He wanted to be sure that the disciples knew whom they were following.
Peter moved straight past the politically correct, carefully couched answers to a bold declaration — that Jesus was the long-awaited Messiah and the Son of God. Jesus pointed out that this was a God-given insight and that those who believe are blessed in their declaration.
Today, Jesus asks us the same personal question: "Who do you believe that I am?" Announcing that He is the true Messiah — our Saviour — starts us on a journey of faith that stretches through eternity in heaven. A life that embraces this truth is blessed and bolstered with confidence in His character and delivering power.
But it's more than just believing. When the question arises in conversation, we have the privilege of becoming His witnesses in the swirl of so many dead-end opinions about Jesus. Whether it's a friendly chat about a spiritually oriented movie or a discussion about the turmoil in the Middle East, the topic of Christ may well surface. And when it does, let's be sure to present the real Jesus in a gracious yet confident manner.
First published September 18, 2014
Mercy Cornish (21) lives in Christchurch and studies at Canterbury University. Mercy has completed a Bachelor of Arts degree studying Media and Communications and Political Science. This year Mercy is undertaking honours in Media and Communications.
Mercy Cornish's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/mercy-cornish.html