Thursday, March 11, 2010

Jesus just a good teacher?

For my seminary class today I read Matthew 11-19 and something struck me. Some people say that Jesus had a lot of great things to say and he was a good teacher, but he never claimed to be God or anything like that. For people who think that or something like it, I just have to ask "have you ever read the words of Jesus?" Jesus' words are gnarly and hard to understand - and even what is easy to understand is often times hard to swallow because of what it implies. Without going into every section of what I read, I'll just bring up a few things that I read today that made me pause (even though, I confess, I was reading quicker than normal because it was for class):

Matthew 11:25-27 - At that time Jesus declared "I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone tho whom the Son chooses to reveal him."

OK, doesn't that sound harsh? Jesus thanking God the Father that the truth has been hidden from people? And Jesus declaring only HE knows the Father truly, and the only people who get to know God are the people to whom Jesus chooses to reveal God? I'm just saying, that's not "nice guy Jesus" - that's hard-core, I-am-the-truth-deal-with-it Jesus. It's the kind of thing that got him killed eventually.

Matthew 13:41-43 - "The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear."

Jesus again takes the authority and position of Deity, telling people what will happen at the end of time. he is the one who will gather up people who are his enemies and destroy them forever. I know we all like the "righteous will shine like the sun" bit, but let's not let that piece of good news downplay the difficult words about so many millions of people's eternal destiny's. Plus, there's so many times when Jesus says "he who has ears, let him hear" - we all need God's Spirit to open our ears (spiritually speaking) for us to understand his word to us.

Matthew 19:14 - but Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven. And he laid his hands on them and went away."

So this one isn't tough but is actually cool... Jesus tells us repeatedly that we need faith like a child to enter his Kingdom. We have to depend completely on him, trust him and know that he is good. Even through so many of what he said is difficult to understand and swallow, when is as crystal clear as this the only question that remains is "Do you believe like a child? Do I?"

In the end Jesus was either an out and out liar or he was the Lord of heaven and earth he claimed to be. He was either a blasphemer who deserved the death he got on the cross (the death penalty was the appropriate punishment for anyone who claimed to be equal with God, which Jesus repeatedly did), or he was the promised Messiah, the Son of David, the Son of God, the only One who could absorb the wrath of God on himself to such a degree that it was totally spent so that all who believe in him may have eternal life. But let's not kid ourselves that he was mostly a nice guy, good teacher, or any of that other bull... ok I won't swear on the blog, but you get the idea.

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