18th May 2014

Why Jesus and not others?

According to Jesus, ‘No one comes to the Father except by me.’ According to the apostles, ‘There is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.’ (Acts 4:12.) The founder of Christianity and the first Christians were absolutely clear: Jesus is the only one who can save us and bring us to live in the presence of God.
How can this be true? Can’t others like the Buddha or Muhammad save us and help us come to God? Why Jesus and not others?
The answer lies in who Jesus is, and what he has done.
Think about who Jesus is. He was a good man, who taught people by word and example how God wants them to live. There are several people in history of whom similar claims are made. But Jesus was more than that. He claimed he had come from heaven to earth to live as a human being, and that he was only doing and saying what God was doing and saying. In other words, while on earth he fully represented God, and before that he was with God in heaven. In what way was he in heaven? Not as a human being – our existence, both physical and spiritual, begins not before conception. Was he something like an angel? But when angels appeared on earth they remained as angels – they did not become human beings. We believe he was in heaven as the divine Son of God. He himself said that he was God’s Son, and his contemporaries therefore accused him of blasphemy, making himself out to be on a level with God. Jesus did not deny that – he expected people to honour him just as they honoured the Father. And his life, his words and his actions all backed up that claim. He was fully divine and fully human, all at the same time. He still is.
Think about what Jesus has done, especially by his death and resurrection. He made clear that his death was no accident; it was a fulfilment of Scripture, it was meant to be and was deeply meaningful. He had come to earth in order to ‘lay down his life for his sheep’. He had come ‘to give his life as a ransom for many.’ During his life he lived entirely in tune with God, resisting all temptations to do wrong. No-one could point to any sin or short-coming. But in his death he took onto himself the penalty for the sins of the world, and thus removed the great stumbling block for human relationship with God. His resurrection showed that he had cleared the debt, and opened the way for human beings also to live for ever in his Father’s home. Now he has returned, victorious, to his place with the Father – returned as a human being as well as the Son of God. He has been given all authority in heaven and on earth; he has rightfully become our ruler as well as our Saviour, and every human being is accountable to him.
All this could happen only because of who he is. No mere human could accomplish this salvation. And he undertook this mission purely out of love for us and our world.
So what? Are we simply spectators, rejoicing in his victory like football fans? No. Someone once said, ‘If Jesus be God and died for me, nothing can be too much for me to do for him.’ ‘Love so amazing, so divine, demands….’
1) What difference does this teaching make to our lives today?
2) What is your own response to Jesus?