Jesus asked this question of one who
came to Him, though He certainly knew the answer. I believe Jesus still knows
why some come to Him today, but I think it would be beneficial for us to
consider the question as if Jesus was asking us today. We hear preachers of the
gospel message inviting people to come to Jesus and many do respond. Maybe you
are one of those who has come to Jesus. May I ask the same question Jesus asked
then? "Friend, why have you come?"
Maybe you have heard something about this One called Jesus and your interest was
piqued. Maybe you went to church when you were a child and heard some stories
about Him, but haven't been back since. Maybe you started thinking about what
you once studied and you want to find out more. That is certainly a good thing
to do! I encourage you to investigate the word of God and see what it says about
In the Bible, you will find that Jesus
came to this earth after having left heaven (John 3:13), taking on the body of
flesh (John 1:1, 14). You are probably familiar with the story of His lowly
birth - born in a stable in Bethlehem (Luke 2:7). You may also know that He was
raised in Nazareth as a child (Luke 2:39,40) and that He was the son of a
carpenter (Matt. 13:55). You will find that, though He was God, He humbled
Himself and lived as every man lives. He was made like us in every way (Heb.
2:17), and He faced every temptation we face - except He answered every
temptation and did not sin (Heb. 4:15).
But maybe this is not enough. There is
much more to know about Jesus to really understand who He is and why we should
believe that He is the Christ. Maybe you have come to Jesus to know who 'the
Christ' is. That's good! Study the book of Mark to see the words and works of
Jesus and let them tell you who Jesus is. Investigate the record that you may
If you have come to Jesus out of
curiosity, I encourage you to go to the Bible to find the answers to your
questions. But don't stop there. Curiosity about Jesus is not what will save you
from your sins. Will you believe?
Maybe you are one who comes to Jesus because it is simply what you have been
doing all of your life, and nothing more than that. It is a tradition. Maybe you
just come once or twice a year to special worship services because that is what
your family has always done. Once a year, you hear about the birth of Jesus, and
once a year you hear about His death. But what about in between? Do you know
anything about His life in between His birth and death? Do you know anything
about how Jesus lived and what He did?
If the only reason you come to Jesus is
tradition, you may not even know why you come at all. It may be that you don't
even know Jesus at all! If you come to Jesus out of tradition, it is likely that
you come more out of habit than desire. It may be that you simply come to Him
because it is what you have always done.
I won't tell you to quit coming if you
come only out of tradition. I won't tell you to quit because maybe you will
learn about Jesus and see that He is worthy of much more than your presence.
Maybe you will see that He is worthy of your love (1 John 4:19), your heart
(Matt. 22:37), and your life (Rom. 12:1). Maybe you will recognize Him as your
Lord (Phil. 2:11).
But I must also tell you that if
tradition is the only reason you come, you must do more than that. Tradition may
be done in the right way but, more often, it is in conflict with the express
will of God (Matt. 15:1-9). Many churches across this country do things out of
tradition, but those teachings and practices are not found within the word of
God, the Bible. If you come to Jesus out of tradition, maybe you are not really
coming to Jesus at all, but to your own perception of who you think Jesus should
be. It could be that the church of which you are a part is telling you that by
following their traditions you are coming to Jesus when, in fact, He is nowhere
to be found. Tradition will not guarantee you will find your way to Jesus; the
only sure way is by following the revealed word of God, the Bible.
Because Of Someone
Else? It may very well be that you really are not coming for your own
benefit, but just to satisfy someone else. It could be that the only reason you
come to Jesus is to keep your parents from bugging you about 'going to church,'
because your husband or wife does, or because you think your kids need to have
some religious instruction. Maybe you are coming to Jesus for them. It could be
that you don't really want to come to Jesus at all.
I won't tell you to quit coming if this
is why you come because maybe - just maybe - you will actually get to know Jesus
and see that He is worthy of knowing. Maybe you will eventually see Jesus as the
Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:16) and as the sacrifice that was made for your
sins (Heb. 10:12). It may be that one day, when you have forced yourself to go
because someone else wanted you to go, you will hear of the great love God had
for us (Rom. 5:6-8) and your heart will be touched.
If you are coming because of someone
else, please understand that they want you to come to Jesus because they care
deeply for your soul. Understand that, to them, Jesus is much more than a baby
in a manger - He is the Son of God and King of Kings! Understand that they know
Him and love Him because He first loved us and gave Himself for us (Eph. 5:2),
and they want you to know of that great love, too. They are hoping [and praying
diligently] that you will hear those words that speak of that great salvation
that has been offered and you will see that even if you gained the whole world
and lost your soul, you will have profited nothing (Matt. 16:26).
Him? I must tell you now that the man whom Jesus asked this question
was none other than Judas, the man who came to betray Him. He had just left the
assembly of the chief priests and elders of the people (Matt. 26:47) and he
brought with him men with swords and clubs, like a bunch of vigilantes looking
to have a lynching party. They came in the dark of night and away from the
crowds who adored Him because the accusers of Jesus were a bunch of cowards. But
Judas, when He came to Jesus, came under the
pretension of being His friend and dared to give Him a kiss. (v. 49) Such
audacity and hypocrisy! This man whom Jesus had chosen just a few short years
earlier to walk with Him and to hear His words of truth was not coming to Him as
a friend but, in truth, as a traitor. Judas was not really a friend of Jesus at
all, and Jesus knew that, but He still called him 'friend.'
Friend, why have you come? Out of
curiosity? If so, I encourage you to seek out the written word that you may know
Him. But do it honestly and be willing to accept what you find - even if He is
not the Jesus you thought He would be. Have you come out of tradition? If so,
please understand that you may be misled and it is not Jesus you are following
at all, but teachings of mere men. Look to the pure word of God, the Bible, to
find Him. Are you coming because of someone else? If so, think about why they
are trying to get you to follow Him, too. They care for your soul! And if you
have come to destroy Him, know that the one who sought to do so ended up
destroying Himself (Matt. 27:3-5), while Jesus still lives today (Rom.