What We Believe makes All the Difference
Dr. Valson Abraham
Many people say they believe in Jesus, but what we believe about Jesus makes all the difference.
In John 7, Jesus’ own brothers give a good example of this. They “believed” in Jesus, but they believed He was a magician and a secular Messiah. They saw Him as a celebrity who needed to break out from His humble roots, go to the big city and put Himself out before the world. There, He would become famous and make a name for Himself (and maybe for them). Jesus rejected their suggestions. They did not understand who He was or what His mission was.
This chapter takes places near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry, just before He goes to Jerusalem. Very shortly, He will face death on a cross, followed by His resurrection, ascension into heaven and the coming of the Holy Spirit that begins the early church.
These brothers, His own flesh and blood, grew up with Him from their infancies. For nearly three years, they saw his miracles and heard Him teach. They regarded themselves as on His side—and yet they were not.
Something absolutely critical failed to penetrate their thinking. They completely missed it. They still did not understand that He came to seek and save the lost, to destroy the works of the devil, to reconcile fallen men, women and children to God, to bring heaven to earth. Their demands on Jesus to take advantage of His celebrity status shows that His entire mission on earth went over their heads. It simply was not important to them.
If Jesus’ own flesh and blood who saw Him every day did not really know Him, what does that say about us in our own day two thousand years later?
Many in our own generation have grossly conflicting concepts of Jesus. We find these people everywhere inside the church as well as outside the church. To some, He is a moral wisdom philosopher and example of how to live a moral life. Others see Him as a revolutionary. Still others view Him as a fulfiller of wishes, a mystic, a guru, a political figure. Many people think of Jesus as somebody who helps them escape life problems to live a care-free existence.
Very popular today is the misconception of Him as the name-it-and-claim-it proponent of a prosperity gospel.
Most people see Jesus as a real person, but they disagree strongly about who He was or is. Some say He was a sinner like everyone else. Even many people who call themselves Christians find it hard to accept Jesus as the only Way. So, what does the Gospel of John tell us about who Jesus was and is?
Consider the construction of the Gospel of John itself. This incident with Jesus’ brothers takes place in John 7, near the end of Jesus’ earthly ministry. There are 21 chapters in the gospel of John, which means that John’s gospel is concerned more with the final weeks of Jesus’ life and ministry than with the rest of his 33 years.
Clearly, John, the writer of this gospel, identifies Jesus Christ with His death and resurrection more than with anything else about Jesus’ life. The gospel is less of a biography of Jesus, more of a proclamation of His mission. The rest of his gospel--two-thirds of it--is taken up with the final week of His life, with His passion. Everything else about Jesus’ ministry, however important, remains secondary to this one thing.
John’s message is clear. Jesus came into this world, not to be a wisdom philosopher, not to be a revolutionary, or a fulfiller of wishes, a mystic, a guru, a political figure or worker of miracles. He came from heaven as the Son of Man to give His life-to become the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world. Any other identities we give to Jesus grossly misrepresent Him.
Correct belief in Jesus’ identity is critical to our salvation. In the following chapter, Jesus Himself said, “Except you believe that I am He [that is, God], you shall die in your sins” (John 8:24). By God, Jesus clearly meant He is One with the all-righteous Father, maker of heaven and earth. This is a far cry from the ideas of many people, including many who go to church every Sunday.
We cannot pervert the truth of His nature and discount His exclusive and stated mission without paying an eternal price for our carelessness.
Where do we stand today, as individuals and as the church?
Do we believe in Jesus as He presents Himself, or do we impose upon Him our own assumptions and presuppositions? It is easier than we think to let the relativistic standards of the world to sway and weaken our perception of the One we call Savior and Lord.
Satan works overtime to distort the understanding of us all. He hates and fears us because we are made in the image of God, his enemy. As the enemy and adversary, he wants to prevent us from experiencing the real blessings God wants to give. He wants to steal the authority we have in Christ as members of His family. Let us not give him that opportunity and pleasure.
How we perceive Jesus influences how we pray, or mis-pray or don’t pray at all. How we perceive Jesus influences the degree we share His passion for the lost and the importance of His Great Commission.
Let us come to better know Him so we may better share Him with millions who hunger and thirst for the righteousness only He can give, putting us into right relationship with God. Let us join with Him to destroy the works of the devil and bring His Kingdom to earth as it is in heaven.
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Father God, thank you for sending your Son into the world to deliver me from the devil, sin and death. May I learn to know and love Him more for His great sacrifice. Teach me how to better share Him with family, friends and those who do not yet know of Him. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.