A lot of people talk about Jesus these days as He is a popular fixture in our culture. References to Him as well as portrayals of Him can be found in movies, TV shows, advertisements, and books. It is hard to find someone who hasn’t heard about Him or at least doesn’t have their own conception of Him. However, with all that said, we need to be cautious not to assume that everyone who is talking about Jesus is speaking of the same Jesus whom we trust and follow. Rather than just blindly accepting that someone who speaks of Jesus or claims to believe in Him has the right understanding of Who He is, we need to further ask the question, “which Jesus?” It very well may be a false perspective of Him which does not correspond to the truth of who He is as He has been revealed in God’s Word, the Bible.
For instance, Muslims have a Jesus that they believe in but they view him as being a prophet just like Muhammad and that of a lesser status than him. The Koran emphatically states that Jesus cannot be said to be God’s Son and that he did not actually die on the cross but merely appeared to. The idea is that he swooned from all the suffering and became unconscious, being mistaken to have died. The Mormons view Jesus as being one of a multitude of gods and the spirit brother of Satan who did not make full atonement for people’s sins, leaving them with sins they need to atone for themselves. According to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus is not the eternal God but a created being, equivalent with Michael the Archangel. He is “a” god but not “the” God. There is also the Thomas Jefferson Jesus that some people believe in today. Our third president picked up scissors and literally went through the gospels and cut out anything supernatural that occurred in it. He believed that anything that could not be explained scientifically or naturally must not have happened. What this left him with was Jesus being only a good moral teacher. Not the sinless Son of God. And perhaps the most popular picture of Jesus out there today is what I would call “the tolerant inclusive Jesus.” A Jesus who is accepting of everyone as they are and being okay with whatever they want to do. This Jesus does not call people to follow him exclusively or to repent. According to him, we all are fine and don’t need saving. Just a little bit of guidance and encouragement to feel better about ourselves.
All of these contradict the Jesus we encounter in the pages of Scripture who is the sinless Son of God, God in the flesh, both truly God and truly man, miraculously virgin born, really dying to atone for all of the sins of His people serving as their substitute sacrifice, and victoriously rising from the dead three days later to conquer death itself. And, as such, these groups mentioned above all wind up believing and following a false Jesus who, of course, does not exist.
Now, you may be thinking, “While I realize that there are all these differences among these false religions and cults when it comes to Jesus, certainly you can’t be saying that it’s not the same Jesus in which they are referring to. They just got some of the details about him wrong. In the cases where he is presented on the screen or in some other book or advertisement and it doesn’t fully agree with the Bible, someone could still be introduced to Jesus even with these faulty descriptions of him.” Well, let me use an illustration to further communicate that these details in where they differ are so major that it actually doesn’t make sense for us to say that they are still talking about the same Jesus whom we know, love, worship, and follow. Suppose someone came up to you and asked if you were familiar with the man, “Lee Smith”. You more likely would probably say “yes” because you were thinking of your pastor who is writing this very article right now. Yet, as the person goes on and begins to talk about his pitching average and how they followed his career all the way from the Chicago Cubs up to his retirement with the Montreal Expos, and have all of his baseball cards, you would have to conclude that he is talking about a completely different “Lee Smith” than the one that you actually know. (The athletic ability or lack thereof of that one is nothing remotely comparable!) Why? Because the details are so very different and contradictory to the “Lee Smith” in which you are familiar that certainly you both cannot have the same person in mind, even though it is the same name. Such is the case with any portrayal or teaching of Christ which does not match up to what Scripture says about Him. They are so vastly different that we cannot say that they are talking about the same Jesus but have to recognize that it is another Jesus altogether.
The reason this all matters is because the only Jesus who is able to save is the real Jesus we read about in the Bible. The “no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” is His name and not one of the same name with different characteristics. Jesus even says in John 8:24, “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins. For unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins.” The “I am” ultimately is a reference to God’s divine name “Yahweh” revealed to Moses back in Exodus 3:14. So, if someone does not believe that Jesus is God as He claims to be with all the characteristics of Him, they will perish in their sins. They cannot be saved. Salvation is found nowhere else outside of the biblical Christ. Any so-called Jesus different than Him will leave someone damned in their sin with no hope of redemption. Hence, why it is essential that someone not only believes in Jesus but that they are believing in the correct Jesus.
So, the next time that you hear someone talking about Jesus, or He is mentioned in an advertisement, or is portrayed on your TV screen, be sure to ask the question, “which Jesus?” and check to see if He matches up to the true Jesus described in Scripture who alone can save. Don’t just assume that it must be the correct Jesus. Watch and read with an open Bible in front of you to evaluate it. And only receive the One found in those pages.
With my love in Christ,