Know Your Bible

VOL. 5                           April 16, 2006                           NO. 13

 Not The Same Jesus

    I suppose the timing of some recent news stories has something to do with the springtime religious holiday known as 'Easter,' but it is evident that the world is curious about who Jesus really was. According to these recent 'revelations' that have come through recently publicized -- though ancient -- manuscripts, Jesus is not the one we thought He was. According to the story line of some fictional books [which the authors say is based on "actual evidence"], Jesus is not the man we thought He was. According to some recent "scientific" discoveries, Jesus is not the man we thought He was. It seems everywhere we turn, someone is willing to "tell the real story" about who Jesus was. The only problem with all of these stories is that it is not the same Jesus!

    First, we have the best-selling book, The DaVinci Code. Dan Brown admits this to be a fictional story, but he also claims that much of the content is "based on actual evidence" and "facts" that show Jesus was actually married to Mary Magdalene, that He had offspring, and that most of what we read about Him in the Gospels' accounts are the work of devious and corrupt religious leaders who fabricated the story of His crucifixion and resurrection to hide the "real" story of His life on earth, which includes a physical relationship with a woman who bore His child. A "secret society" is thrown in to elevate the mystery and suspense, and well-known characters throughout history are involved, who only add to the intrigue. These members of the "secret society" will go to great lengths to keep the "truth" secret, going so far as to steal, lie, and murder, if necessary.

    There is just one, big problem with the "Jesus" of Dan Brown's book: This is not the same Jesus! Dan Brown has invented a "Jesus" that will sell books [that worked well; his book has been at the top of the best-selling lists for nearly two years], but because he knew the Jesus of the Bible wouldn't do. He has taken some very shaky "evidence" and some unsubstantiated -- though certainly fantastic -- stories, added a little mystery and intrigue, and has given the world a new "Jesus." Dan Brown now tells us that this is the "real" Jesus, though his witnesses and his "evidence" would never hold up in a court of law. The judge who recently sided with Brown in a lawsuit against him even had to admit that Brown's "research" was basically non-existent. And yet people are now in a buzz about this book because many want to believe it is true!

    Then there is the Florida "scientist" who purports to have discovered a period when there was [coincidentally, of course] a temperature drop in the region in and around Galilee, and which caused ice patches to form on the lake and which, consequently, allowed Jesus to walk on these ice patches and convince others He was really walking on water. Of course, this "scientist" failed to explain how the boat was being "tossed by the waves" (Matt. 14:24) at a time when there had to be so much ice, but that is a small side note, I am sure.

    Once again, we have someone trying to deny the evidence of God's word and make wild suppositions based on indefensible "evidence" and testimony that would be laughed out of any court of law. I find it revealing that the time period just "happened" to coincide with the time of Jesus, and just as revealing when we consider the basic lack of evidence this "scientist" offers in support of his claim. I am not surprised that this man admitted later in an interview that he does not accept even the possibility of a man walking on water. In logic, we call that a "forced conclusion." If I start with a false premise, or if I reject certain evidence simply because I refuse to believe it, I am not likely going to come to a true, unbiased conclusion, and that is what this man has done. The "Jesus" he wants us to see is one who was a deceiver who wanted others to believe He could do amazing things when, in reality, He could not. This is not the same Jesus of the Bible!

    And then there is the recently publicized "Gospel of Judas." In this book, we are told that Judas really was fulfilling the express will of Jesus Christ in betraying Him to His accusers. [I guess people will now be rushing to name their children Judas?] Now, not only is Jesus different, but so is Judas! This new "Jesus" favored Judas over the other apostles and hid His purpose from most of them, while revealing a new story about Creation and previously unmentioned 'gods' which were higher than the God of the apostles.

    National Geographic Magazine [NGM] is behind the publication of this book, and a good portion of the money given to purchase the manuscripts came from the founder of Gateway Computers. None involved want to put too much emphasis on the fact that this is a "Gnostic gospel" that came form the hand of the men who believe "that secret and personal insights are the key to redemption, rather than faith in Jesus' resurrection." Again, when one begins with a false premise and rejects clear evidence simply because it is not what one wants to believe, it will be difficult -- if not impossible to come to a logical, unbiased, and sound conclusion. That is what this writing is all about, but you won't hear NGM promote it as anything but a "Christian" document as they try to equate it with all other New Testament writings. And, like the previous "scientific" discoveries and "fact_based fiction" story, the Jesus of this book is not the same Jesus of the Bible.

    Is it me, or is there an increasing number of attempts to portray Jesus as someone vastly different than the Jesus of the Bible? It seems Mohammed is off-limits, but Jesus is fair game! It's as if the world is saying, "Let's invent our own version of Jesus!" If someone wants to make Jesus into a liar and deceiver, that is perfectly acceptable; if someone wants to call Him "just a prophet," that is acceptable; if someone wants to say He never claimed to be deity or never claimed to be the Son of God, then that is just as good as any other version. The problem with all of this is, this is not the same Jesus of the Bible!

    In this increasingly diverse world in which we live, it is popular to proclaim that everyone has a right to believe what they want to believe. That idea has now stretched into the realm of Christian faith and we now have preachers and teachers telling their adherents, "It doesn't matter what you believe, as long as you're sincere." Friends and brethren, understand that this idea is not of God, and does much harm to those who believe it and accept it as truth.

    First, consider this question: If it really doesn't matter what you believe, then why did Jesus die? Second, we do not have the right to make Jesus into the "Jesus" of our own liking. Jesus did say He was the Son of God, and we have the testimony of others saying the same (Matt. 16:16;17:5). Jesus performed real miracles and those miracles testified to the veracity of His claim to be of God (John 20:30, 31). His resurrection [yes, He really did die and really did rise again] was the final testimony of God that Jesus was His Son (Rom. 1:4). God would not raise an impostor!

    Jesus severely rebuked the religious leaders of His day (Matt. 23) and told sinners to quit sinning (John 8:11); He warned that those who rejected His words would be judged by those same words in the last day (John 12:47, 48) and one of His apostles warned against severe punishment from God for having disbelieved Him (2 Thess. 1:8, 9); He plainly stated that only the one who believes the gospel and is baptized will have forgiveness of sins (Mark 16:16), while man disparages those words. This is the Jesus of the Bible, like Him or not. But don't make Him into the "Jesus" of your own liking, or one who is more favorable to the way of life you want to follow.

    The Jesus of the Bible is the Son of God. Through Him alone can we be saved (Acts 4:12). Any other "Jesus" is not the same Jesus. Which one will you believe?

---Steven Harper

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