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Monday, July 1, 2013

Question:  Why is Jesus so unique and special to you?  How can you possibly say that He is the only way?

Answer:

This is one of the most frequently-asked questions that non-Christians have about the Christian faith.  The very name of our religion has the name of Jesus Christ embedded in it, and there is no doubt that Jesus is central to the Christian faith.

Now most people will readily agree that Jesus was a very special person who brought a remarkable message of forgiveness and love (through His life and His words).  But most people also struggle to embrace His claims of utter exclusivity.  Jesus is a venerated prophet in Islam as well, but only Christians call Him the Messiah, the Savior for the world, and the Son of God.  The words of Jesus in John 14:6 are probably some of the toughest words for non-Christians to embrace:  Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.”

So the question why Jesus is so special is a very important one for all Christians to think about.

And when Christians are asked about John 14:6, many find it very difficult to answer.  So I want to share my present thoughts on this.  For many years, John 14:6 and Jesus being the only way to God were very troublesome ideas for me to properly explain.  To be sure, it is hard even now to try to graciously explain the exclusivity of the Christian message, without making those who are not Christians feel unfairly excluded!

But I want to give you a personal answer.  In the past, I think I tried various other approaches – philosophical, historical, theological, etc.  And when I say personal, I don’t mean a personal testimony where I saw Jesus in a vision or heard a voice in the middle of the night.  No, I just don’t think I ever really personalized the deep impact of the life of Jesus as it compared to my life, so that I really knew why I was so willing to follow Him.

I’ve heard it said that Larry King, an American news anchor, famously said that if there was one question he would ask God, it would be this, “Did the virgin birth really happen?”  Because if the virgin birth really happened (as Christians believe about Jesus), then everything else about Jesus are probably true.

While I agree that is a very critical question, I don’t quite agree with Larry King, because the virgin birth is a one-time miracle.  And it’s within the realm of believability that a miracle might happen one time.  For me, there is a much more unfathomable truth that is described in the Bible.  To me, it is a million times harder to fathom than even John 14:6. 

 For me, the hinge on which every door in my Christian life swings open, is this truth about Jesus found in Hebrews 4:15 – For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

The statement in the second half of this verse is what I want to highlight:  This person Jesus was tempted in all things as we are, and yet did not sin even once.

The Bible tells me that God cannot be tempted (James 1:13).  So while Jesus never stopped being fully God while here on earth (he accepted worship which is reserved only for God), He was also “fully man” and here’s a key reason why – He was tempted in all points as we are.  So He was tempted as a man, and overcame as a man, not God.

So Jesus lived for 33+ years, and was tempted throughout His life – in all things, just as we are.   But the incredible news is that Jesus did not sin even once.

 

Can you even imagine that?  Have you tried to live for one hour without sinning once?  There is no one of whom such a claim is even attempted.  We almost implicitly accept that to be human is to fall into sin from time to time.  But this is where Jesus stands unique.  He was fully human in the arena of temptations.  But because He ALWAYS depended on the power of the Holy Spirit, He never sinned once.  He did not have a superhuman moral strength as a human.  No, He just lived throughout His life with a complete dependence on the Holy Spirit.

I don’t think I need to spend a lot of time on this for you to recognize how incredible this is.  If Somebody could do for 33+ years what no other human can do for even one day, then this Person must be given a place of elevated respect far above all else.

And here’s how this connects with John 14:6 and the exclusive claims that Jesus made.  If ANYBODY was able to live for 30+ years and never sin once, it is EASY to expect such a Person to have a unique knowledge of God.  Such a Person deserves to have a sole and unique hold on the keys of Eternal Life, and He must have a unique knowledge of the Infinite God.

 

So when one of my friends questions how anybody could believe what is written John 14:6, I will take him first to Hebrews 4:15.  And I will tell him about something that is even more unbelievable – but which doesn’t put me at a higher plane than him.  No matter what the standard of our relative morality is, we both are on equal footing when it comes to Hebrews 4:15 – and we can BOTH bow and worship at the feet of this Person who was tempted in all things just as we are, but yet did not sin even once.

So it is this posture of worship that I would invite others to join me in.  Not a pathway out of hell and into heaven; rather a posture of utter adoration and worship – for One who did what I cannot even fathom anybody doing!  It is this posture of worship that is the narrow gate and the narrow way.  So for my non-Christian friend, he will need to bow down to get through the narrow gate.  But for me, I will need to also bow down to stay on the narrow way.

 

Friend, whether or not you’re able to make sense of all the teachings of Jesus, please join me in meditating on Hebrews 4:15 – and thinking about this Jesus who was tempted just like you are, and did not sin even once.  Don’t beat yourself up for your relative mediocrity.  We ALL are mediocre when compared to Him.  Even Jesus doesn’t beat us up for this; He sympathizes with our weakness.  But join me in doing the most natural thing when faced with such a remarkable Person – marvel and adore Him.  And as you do this, you will also naturally bow and worship this Jesus for what He alone did, and that we will never even claim to do in a million years.

As you assume this posture of worship, He will draw near to you.  He will reveal Himself to you in a personal way.  You may never be able to answer the intellectual skeptics about your faith.  But you will have an increasing knowledge of this Jesus who will become very real to us.

This has been and continues to be my honest testimony.

 

A fellow pilgrim in this journey of worshiping Jesus Christ,

Sandeep