white cross photo

Which Jesus?

Recently, someone sent me copy of a cartoon by Adam Ford, one of my favourite cartoonists. He is a Christian cartoonist. I’m sure there are other cartoonists who are Christian, but Ford’s work focuses on the Christian faith. The cartoon I received was entitled “Which Jesus do you serve?”.

Almost everyone has an idea about Jesus Christ, the Messiah. I think Ford got it right in his cartoon, when he points out that people superimpose their own idea over the biblical image or teaching. There are as many varieties of Jesus as there are opinions. I’m sure you have your favourite.

What is the biblical record? What does it say about Jesus in the Old Testament and in the letters of the apostles? What does Jesus say about himself in the gospels?

In the book of Isaiah, written 700 years before Jesus’ first advent, the messiah to come was described with these words: “He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to him, nothing in his appearance that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering” (Isaiah 53:2b-3a).

This description destroys the image of Jesus as the handsome, cool surfer dude or any other visually-appealing physical characteristics. That is one “Jesus” shot down. The other side of that, the Jesus of the prosperity gospel, it is shot down too. Jesus suffered. He was a man of sorrows. He didn’t walk Easy Street. He didn’t get about in a comfy chariot or fly around in a private jet.

In John 8:58, Jesus caused his Jewish audience to go apoplectic when he spoke of himself: “I tell you the truth, before Abraham was, I am! At this, they picked up stones to stone him.” Why such a reaction? It was because Jesus claimed to be the same one who said to Moses from the burning bush that he was “I AM”–God himself in the flesh. The image of Jesus as just another great teacher is shot down. Jesus claimed to be God! There are two possible conclusions that can follow: this is either true or false. There is no in between, at least if Jesus’ words mean anything.

In the first chapter of his letter to the Christians in Colossae, Paul describes Jesus this way: “For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:16-17).

Have you ever thought about Jesus in those terms?  If not, why?

Which Jesus do you serve? The one you’ve created for yourself? The one who does your bidding like a genie in a lamp? The one who never made anyone uncomfortable? Or the one described in the Bible? The answer is the most important you’ll ever give.

Which Jesus do you serve?

Originally appeared in the Caymanian Times.

  • Chris Pierce is an Anglican minister in Northern Ireland.

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