FOLLOWING JESUS – MY LORD AND MY GOD

‘What is a Christian?’ is an important question. But much more important is the question ‘Who is Jesus?’ Who is this ‘Jesus’ the Christian follows?

And, as with the first question, people give various answers to this question. For example:

They say: Jesus is just a myth or a legend. He never actually existed. (This answer is easily refuted by the fact that there are more reports, and more ancient reports, about Jesus Christ than there are about Julius Caesar.)

They say: Jesus was a moral teacher. (This answer is true. But it is not all that is true.)

They say: Jesus was just a man. (Jesus was a man, a real, human man. But this also is not all that is true – he was also more than a man.)

They say: Jesus is one among many manifestations of ‘god’ and paths to knowing ‘god’. (Jesus himself taught quite differently.)

They say: Jesus was a well-meaning, but deluded, do-gooder, who met a premature, unfortunate end.

Jesus’ answer to the question ‘Who is Jesus?’ is that he, this real human being, is actually God. Here are a few of the things he said:

He called himself God’s ‘one and only Son’ (John 3:18).

He said that it was God’s purpose ‘that all may honour the Son just as they honour the Father. He who does not honour the Son does not honour the Father, who sent him’ (John 5:23).

He referred to himself as the one who ‘comes down from heaven’ (John 6:33; also vv.38, 41, 50, 51, 58).

He said ‘If you knew me, you would know my Father also’ (John 8:19).

He said ‘I am not of this world’ (John 8:23; 17:14, 16).

He said ‘Before Abraham was born, I am!’ (John 8:58).

He said ‘I and the Father are one’ (John 10:30).

He said ‘When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me’ (John 12:44, 45).

He said ‘I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him. ... Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, “Show us the Father”?’ (John 14:6, 7, 9).

The leaders of the Jews understood clearly the significance of these things that Jesus said. They responded with the charge of blasphemy, saying ‘you, a mere man, claim to be God’ (John 10:33), and killed him because of that claim.

And there is the sticking point: if Jesus had stayed dead, all of these things he said about himself would have been proved false. He would have been either a liar, falsely claiming what he knew was not true, or a lunatic, living under a grandiose delusion.

But he did not stay dead. He rose from death on the third day, just as he had said he would. This resurrection, this real, physical resurrection, proves the truth of his claims. This resurrection demonstrates that Jesus is indeed God. As Paul taught, Jesus was ‘declared with power to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead’ (Romans 1:4).

And that is what the disciple Thomas discovered.

A dead Jesus meant the end of all that Thomas had hoped for, all that he had believed about Jesus. What the others were saying, that Jesus was alive, was not possible, because dead people do not rise to life. Thomas simply could not believe them. He needed the proof of the visible and tangible nail scars in Jesus’ hands and of the sword thrust in Jesus’ side.

Then Jesus came. Breaking into the closed room of Thomas’ doubts and despair he said to him:

‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe’ (John 20:27).

And Thomas said to him ‘My Lord and my God!’

This is the Jesus Christians believe in. This is the Jesus Christians follow. Not just a good moral example. Not just a good teacher. Not one among many spiritual leaders. But the Lord Jesus Christ, ‘who is God over all’ (Romans 9:5), who is ‘our great God and Saviour’ (Titus 2:13), who is ‘the true God’ (1John 5:20).

© Rosemary Bardsley 2021