Wednesday, April 8, 2009

April 8, 2009 "It's a draw"

John 12: 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."

So much about Christianity is offensive. Start with the claims of Jesus divinity. Nowadays, it has become popular to assume that Jesus never claimed divinity. Many say the “divine” and “miracle” part of the Gospel was added by the disciples after Jesus death.

The argument goes that the early Christians took a radical rabbi’s teaching and added elements of divinity and miracles to gain approval for their dearly departed leader.

I meet with a rabbi and a Baptist minister for lunch pretty regularly. And the rabbi is happy to confirm that idea that a human might be divine is a pretty strongly repudiated idea in Judaism.

And the idea that a bunch of first century Jewish fishermen would try to promote a their rabbi by adding divinity to his claims just seems ridiculous. If anything, those guys would have taken any of those claims out!

Of course there are other possibilities. The whole story could be made up. There may have never been a Jesus.

There is the possibility that Jesus was a more “new age” figure along the lines of the Gospel of Thomas, Peter, Judas, etc. But a great deal of evidence suggests that most if not all of those works were written even later than the four canonical gospels.

There is the possibility I started with: that Jesus was a first century radical religious teacher, but that all the other ideas, divinity, miracles, resurrection were later accretions.

Then of course there is an even more challenging and disturbing possibility: that the Gospels are faithful records of Jesus teaching, action, and miracles.

In which case as C.S. Lewis pointed out, Jesus is a) Who he claims to be, the Son of God, b) A deluded lunatic, or c) A misleading charlatan.

This week while walking on the treadmill in the gym, the Discovery Channel was running a show purporting to show the real Jesus.

Of course he was not the divine savior, but just a radical reformer. Yet most of their information was simply selectively taken from the Gospels, doing what Thomas Jefferson did a few hundred years earlier. Take out the miracles and all that talk about being the Son of God.

But, while I acknowledge that the other ideas might be true, I remain convinced that Jesus is who the Gospels say he claims to be. I don’t always like that answer because it commands an allegiance that I often do not want to give. But after lots of thought and examination I cannot bring myself to any other conclusions.

A few days ago, a friend sent me a quote from a novel during a Facebook discussion. She wrote: “There is a sentence in one of my all-time favorite books, "The Shack": Mack, the main character, after talking about people of different faiths, etc., is asking Jesus, "Does that mean that all roads lead to you? 'Not at all', smiled Jesus...'Most roads don't lead anywhere. What it does mean is that I will travel any road to find you.' (p. 182).

John 12: 32 And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself."

No one but Jesus seems to be able to meet my innermost desires. May we all be drawn to him.

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