THERE HAVE been countless wisemen, gurus, and teachers. Over the centuries, many spiritual leaders and visionaries have come and gone.
What, if anything, makes Jesus different?
Many respect him. Many sense the truth in his teachings. They acknowledge his wisdom and compassion. They admire his faithfulness, humility, and courage. But do they really know him?
There is one thing that sets Jesus apart from the rest. It’s the key to everything. It’s the key to faith.
During his time, Jesus made an audacious claim. He said he was the Son of God. He said that he and God the Father were one in the same.
Are these the words of a madman, some kind of conspiracy — or words of truth?
Everything about Jesus centers upon his identity. It’s not so much about what he did, but rather, who he is.
Many can offer help to the poor and downtrodden. Others can teach with wisdom and heal the sick. Some people sacrifice their lives for someone else. Even much of Jesus’ teaching only repeated what was already written.
Centuries before Jesus walked the earth, God the Father had already given the core commandments by which we should live by:
You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
You shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.
As God’s Son, Jesus spoke with authority. But he also did things which could only be accomplished due to his identity.
First of all, Jesus forgave sins — and this is astounding. But it makes no sense at all if Jesus is not who he said he was. If I offend someone, only that person can forgive me, not someone else. And only God can forgive all sin.
Jesus was not some crazy cult leader. He never forced or pressured anyone to follow him. His teaching and actions were solid, logical, and transcendental. He didn’t create a cult of personality around him. He didn’t lead a violent revolution. He did not seek wealth or worldly power. Just look at how he died — alone and naked on the cross.
How then did Jesus forgive sins? Was he crazy? Who did he think he was anyway? Jesus forgave sins since he knew exactly who he was. He was, and is, the Son of God — a living member of the Holy Trinity.
What about Jesus’ death? One of the greatest ironies of the Gospels is also one of its greatest truths. The authorities of his day convicted Jesus of the crime of blasphemy. And for this he was put to death.
But when Jesus said that he was the Son of God, it wasn’t blasphemy. It was truth. And for speaking the truth he was sentenced to death. Yes, someone can give their life for another person. But only one Man gave their life for everyone, for all of us.
It is precisely the identity of Christ that makes all the difference. It enabled him to heal the sick and cast out demons. It let him multiply the fishes and loaves, change water into wine, walk on water, and raise the dead. His identity gave him the authority to teach with power.
Jesus is so much more than a guru or wiseman. Through his Son, God came down to walk among us, hurt like us, and die like us. And only the death of the Son of God could take away the sins of the world.
For all this, Jesus Christ is praised and adored above all others. For all this, he was raised from the dead to achieve victory over sin and death forever.
These are the things that set Jesus apart. This is why Jesus is inseparable from our faith.
As for me, I call him my beloved Lord and Savior. I was in a very dark place before I let Jesus into my life. My sins were many. And he showed up, like always, right on time.
He took me by the hand. His tenderness and truth saved my life. And even though he let me choose, he was waiting for me and loving me all along.
He is the one that tells you,
“My beloved child, I know you have sinned. I know the hurt you suffered from the sins of others. I know it all. I felt everything you did that hurt you and hurt others. I took it — and felt it — all on the cross, as I did for all humanity. I went through it with you because I love you — and so that you may live in peace with my Father — so that you may live free. And I give you my love, my grace, my mercy, and my Spirit without limits. It’s up to you to decide how much you open yourself to these blessings and gifts.”
And I remember my first prayer as a grown man — on my knees, my face on the floor, tears soaking the carpet — asking God to forgive me — my hands open to heaven — his healing grace falling upon me like spring water.
And from that day forward, I was a free man. Free to choose and grow, not perfect, but no longer a slave to sin.
I knew, once and for all, that I was not alone. I knew I was loved beyond all measure by the Lord our God.
. . . . . . .
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
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