Interested in Jesus?
So, you’ve clicked on this link because you’re interested in Jesus, or maybe just curious about what it says; either way, you’re welcome – and please read on.
Jesus is one of those figures that nearly everyone has an opinion about – even if it’s only that he doesn’t matter. First century historians like Josephus and Tacitus, tell us He was real but people have many different opinions about him.
The gospel writers are the main source of information about him and they each write with a particular point to make. The gospels themselves are not biographies of Jesus; rather, they are accounts of who he was and what he did, written to different groups or individuals, by 4 different authors.
In light of this, what can we affirm about Jesus…?
Well, He was certainly a man of the people. The gospels show him out and about associating with anyone who would engage with him, and, strikingly, not placing demands on them before spending time with them. He mixed regularly with those whom society saw as disreputable and morally dubious; he ‘hung out’ with all the ‘wrong people’, eg tax collectors or a woman caught in adultery. Jesus was a man for the people…
We can also affirm that he wasn’t afraid to take on the religious establishment of his day; to call out those who thought a relationship with God was based on doctrinal purity and regulation. In its place, he championed a relationship with God based on love and grace, born out of the humility of knowing you can’t make it on your own. This was a new kind of relationship with God not based on performance and merit.
Jesus was also a man who was brutally honest, (in a gracious sort of way). Not the insipid, doe-eyed image of later art, but one who took a whip and drove out the corrupt traders in the temple. He spoke to the rich with the directness that was required, seeing that their wealth was more likely to keep them from the Kingdom of God rather than help them enter it. He challenged the hypocrisy of those who were obsessed with religious regulations, but missed the heart of the matter, ie compassion for others. Jesus was up-front and open. He told it as it is – both back then and now.
But for all that, why should we take notice of Jesus today?
There are many reasons why people connect with Jesus: for some it’s facing up to the realities of life and a search for meaning; for others, it could be facing up to the reality of death. As people often say, the only things certain in life are “death and taxes”, but taxes are easier to deal with than the finality of death.
Nicky Gumble, in “Why Jesus?”, points us to another reason to connect with Jesus, i.e. our need for forgiveness. He writes, “if we are honest, we would have to admit that we all do things that we know are wrong. Sometimes we do things we are deeply ashamed of. More than that, there is a self-centredness about our lives which spoils them. Jesus said “What comes out of you is what makes you “unclean” for from within, out of your heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, malice, deceit, lewdness, envy, slander, arrogance and folly. All these evils come from inside and make you unclean (Mark 7:20-21)” 1
As Nicky points out, “our greatest need, in fact, is for forgiveness…we need forgiveness whether we realise it or not. By his death on the cross Jesus made it possible for us to be forgiven and brought back into a relationship with God. In this way he supplied the answer to our deepest need.”
As we’ve already said, Jesus hung out with those who realised they were far from perfect and in doing so offered them acceptance, love and the chance of a different life – a life not governed by rules, ritual, or regulations, but by relationship. What Jesus offers is real and it’s just as real today as it was back then. It’s a transforming friendship that starts with making a one to one connection with Him, and finding in that connection a new dynamic which gives life a fuller meaning – the ‘life in all its fullness’ that Jesus himself spoke about.
Jesus’ death was not something without meaning; it was for you and for each one of us. Through His death, new life became possible. Our shortcomings, failures and brokenness are paid for and the offer of a fresh start is on the table for all of us.
So what will we do with it?
A relationship with Jesus is not something that comes automatically. Just as a gift is offered, it is only truly received when you reach out and accept it. As Nicky puts it “The New Testament makes it clear that we have to do something to accept the gift that God offers. This is an act of faith. John writes that God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16). Believing involves an act of faith, based on all that we know about Jesus. It is not blind faith. It is putting our trust in a Person. In some ways it is like the step of faith taken by a bride or bridegroom when they say “I will” on their wedding day.” 3
Connecting with Jesus is the beginning of a transforming friendship. You won’t become perfect, but spending time with Jesus and others who also love Him, will change how you experience life. It’s a lifelong friendship but the choice to enter into it is yours… the challenge is to take that step and find out for yourself that the Lord is good indeed.
If you would like to know more, you can contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
1. Why Jesus? © Nicky Gumbel 1991. Published by Alpha International 1997, page 5
2. Ibid page 5
3. Ibid page 17
Quotations from “Why Jesus?” by Nicky Gumble used with permission.