Thursday, April 24, 2008

Why is Jesus different?

The celebrated wise ones of our world – Buda, Muhammad, Socrates, etc. - lived lives of introspection and self discovery. They were on a journey to discover a better way. When they thought they discovered this better way, they set themselves to work to achieve it. They taught others as they learned themselves about their journey and about this theoretical place where their journey would take them. It seemed that these masters never reached it. In most cases, it was one of their students who recorded what they learned. While they followed the master’s teaching, not one of them achieved what the master was pursuing.

Jesus was different than these renowned men. Jesus life was based on a document written more 400 years before His birth, we call it the Old Testament (OT). The New Testament (NT) writers and Jesus refer to it as the Scriptures (Mark 14:49; 15:28, Luke 4:21, John 13:18; 24:27, 32, 45). It was a document He co-authored (2 Timothy 3:16). The Bible says that Scriptures were inspired by the Holy Spirit, who is a third part of the God head, just as Jesus. In fact, this Holy Spirit filled Jesus with His presence (Luke 4:1).

While many wrote books about the renowned men of our world after they died, many wrote about Jesus thousands of years before He was born. The Scripture spoke of Him as the ultimate goal of what mankind should become. When Christ dwelt on Earth He embodied this goal. Christ was not on a journey to find His purpose, He already knew. He said in Luke 4:18 – 21,

Luke 4:16 And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read.
Luke 4:17 And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written,
Luke 4:18 The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised,
Luke 4:19 To preach the acceptable year of the Lord.
Luke 4:20 And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him.
Luke 4:21 And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
Christ never pointed men into a direction they should go to become better people, He pointed to Himself. Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life …” ( John 14:6).

You will ask, “Did not His followers write about Him after His death?” Yes, they did. And, here is another difference between Christ and the Worlds men of renown: As we see above, The New Testament writers always referred to the OT writings to refer to Jesus. They referred back to the OT to show how Jesus fulfilled what the OT said. Jesus Himself quoted extensively from the Scripture to talk about Himself.

Jesus did not only practice what He preached, He was what He preached. And, His goal is for us to become like Him: the One who continually yielded to His Father’s will. Christ sends to us Whom fully indwelt Him, so we can become like He was. We will not be God in the likeness of sinful flesh and yet never sinned, but the Holy Spirit will be God dwelling in our sinful flesh and we will conquer sin as Christ did, if we yield to Him. This is a big difference between Christ and His followers and other great men and their followers. The followers of Jesus can become as Christ was.

Talking in Ephesians 4:13 - 15 about the reason that we are given Spiritual gifts Paul says that it is so that, “we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ.”