A few years ago, I was in a Christian bookstore and noticed a small plastic toy hanging from a hook at the end of an aisle. What I saw, tucked neatly behind a clear plastic bubble, was a small action figure of a man. The cardboard background packaging declared this toy to be a “Bendable, Poseable Jesus of Nazareth.” As I stared at the packaging in disbelief, I also came to the realization that this toy is just a plastic manifestation of what many people believe about Jesus, both inside and outside of the church.
Recently, I began preaching through the Gospel of John in what I hope, by God’s grace, will be a year-long, verse-by-verse study of this New Testament account of the life and ministry of Jesus. Unlike the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) John begins his account in eternity past with the familiar opening line “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” As his prologue moves forward, he asks his readers to wrestle with who Jesus actually is. Most people in the word believe that there once was a human who lived in real space and time whose name was Jesus. Many also believe that Jesus was a good moral teacher who began a spiritual movement that continues to this very day, So, Jesus should be considered one of the most influential people in history. However, disagreements always exist over His claim to be the unique Son of God and John’s opening claim that Jesus is a co-eternal member of the Triune Godhead. Why is this the case?
If you only see Jesus as “just another moral teacher” then He is nothing more than an insightful historical figure that you can bend to fit into your lifestyle. You don’t see him as a threat to your plans because he’s not authoritative enough to make a claim on your life and not powerful enough to really affect your future. You can easily treat Jesus like “fire insurance” or an extended warranty on your own agenda in case it fails and move on with your life. But, if He truly is the Son of God, then He has every right to make claims on your life and not bend to fit your agenda. If He truly is the Son of God, then it changes everything. For the next few weeks, we are going to explore why John’s claims about Jesus matter so much. We’ll also see how this is the very heart of the good news of the Gospel.
– Rev. Dave Latham is the pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church.