Tuesday, November 21, 2006

But who do you say that I am?

Though I've known Christians who focused mostly on Jesus as example and either trivialized, ignored, or denied his Lordship and divinity, this is the first I've heard about a Jesuin. I found a posting by Robb Pearson on a blog where he described himself as a "Jesus-loving non-Christian". Jesuin's basically strip away all the myths about Jesus and focus on his example and his peaceful teachings. They drop ideas like divinity, resurrection and other "religious" thoughts.

I immediately thought of the question Jesus asked His disciples: "But who do you say that I am?" While I agree with the Jesuins that Jesus is "the most superlative model for living", I also agree with Paul when he says that if the resurrection of Christ isn't true we're, er, in a world of hurt. If most of what is written in the Gospels are myths, as Jesuin's declare then how do they know that the model that they are following is not also a myth? And if a myth what is to suggest that their myth they follow is any better than the myths that, say Friedrich Nietzsche taught? Why is your myth about being nice to people any better than a myth that says only the strong survive and if you turn your back I'm gonna swipe your wallet?

Peter - one of those who lived with Jesus all through his ministry -- answered the question with unmistakable affirmation: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

It is the Divinity of Christ, the exclusive claims and the resurrection that provide the solid foundation for His teaching and example. The only reason that his example and teaching on kindness for the poor has validity is because He is God. True, reason tells us that if we were to help all the poor it could make for a better world, but so would simply exterminating all of them -- unless you have God who creates universal rules for life, our unreasonableness can always be made to appear reasonable. The essence of Love, the Greek word agape, is exemplified in Jesus' life and death. "For God so loved the world that He gave His Son". Jesus was His Son, and He loved the Father, and He loved you and I so much that He left the glorious courts of heaven to come down here, and even died the worst death, in order to save us to the glory of the Father. Love is the foundation of the universe and is the law all are imbued with.

Then there is the whole issue of salvation. The teacher who showed us how to treat the poor also said, "I am the way, the truth and the life." "[I] have come to seek and to save that which was lost." I suppose if you simply lift out all the good examples and ignore the rest you have a good Jesus, but this misses the who point of His life. Those who were the closest to him and who saw -- yes, really saw -- Him after the resurrection went all over the region declaring salvation by faith in Him. They were willing to risk pain, suffering and death, not for a myth but for the Truth: and Jesus was the Truth that they taught.

Adventists traditionally have emphasized Jesus as our example. This is one of the reasons for the strong insistence by some of the "post-fall" Adamic nature - that is, that Jesus took upon himself the fallen nature of Adam. Since He had our nature and overcame He proved that it could be done, and becomes our example. He sends His spirit to strength us and we can perfect our characters as He did. But again, this ignores the emphasis of His mission and trivializes the cross.

Jesus Is. He always was, is, and will be - he is fully God and the Creator of everything. Jesus was the God who spoke to Abraham, who told Moses to erect a serpent on a pole to save Israel from serpents, and who pleaded with generation after generation of Jewish king to return to Him. Jesus is our Savior God and is the only way that we have the hope of eternity, and hope in this life. Jesus, as God, did indeed model His nature and give to us a perfect example.

But Jesus, the Christ, the Messiah, the Son of God -- He first and foremost is our Savior.

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