You Can Claim to Follow Jesus, But Miss the Point of Who He Is
Most readers of this blog are followers of Jesus. But what do we really believe about the Jesus we follow? Is the Jesus we claim to know the real Jesus, or a Jesus of our own invention, who doesn’t match up with the biblical and historical realities?
There are a lot of people, friends, coworkers and extended family members who say they “believe in Jesus.” But what’s more important is what they actually believe about the Jesus they say they worship and follow.
For instance, Jehovah’s Witnesses “believe in Jesus,” but they don’t believe that Jesus was God. If Jesus was and is God, then they don’t actually believe in the true Jesus. It’s the same with Mormons and countless others who respect and even elevate Jesus, but don’t believe He’s the utterly unique Son of God who is in fact God Himself.
How important is to believe that Jesus wasn’t just a great man and a great example, but is actually God? John MacArthur says, “That Jesus is himself God is the heart of the gospel, because apart from his deity he could not save a single soul.” Scripture says, “No one who denies the Son has the Father; he who confesses the Son has the Father as well” (1 John 2:23).
Jesus’ declaration “Before Abraham was born, I am!” (John 8:58) was a direct claim to be Yahweh, the God whose name is “I am who I am” (Exodus 3:14). We know those who heard Him understood exactly what He was claiming, because “they picked up stones to stone him” (John 8:59).
In John’s Gospel, Jesus makes more “I am” statements affirming His deity. The God-man said, “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35,48,51); “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12; 9:5); “I am the gate” (John 10:9); “I am the good shepherd” (John 10:11,14); “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26); “I am the way and the truth and the life” (John 14:6); and “I am the vine” (John 15:5).
Jesus, who always was, is the eternal “I am.” “For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ…the head over every ruler and authority” (Colossians 2:9-10, CSB).
If we get it right about Jesus we can afford to get some things wrong. If we get it wrong about Jesus, it won’t matter that we got a lot of other things right.
Here are some good resources for further thought:
For more on Jesus, see Randy’s book Face to Face with Jesus: Seeing Him as He Really Is.