I and the Father are one.
When you hear the name Jesus, what’s the first word that comes to your mind? You might say “gentle,” “loving,” or “compassionate.” But I imagine there is one word that isn’t on your list. It’s the word “intolerant.” To describe the Son of God as intolerant borders on blasphemy, we think. But the reason that’s true is we have confused the Jesus of our imagination with the Jesus who actually existed.
Contrary to most people’s opinion, Jesus was not a wimpy rabbi who roamed the countryside plucking daisies and saying nice things to people. That’s what most of the world thinks about Jesus. Dorothy Sayers, a gifted author, contrasted the Jesus of most people’s thinking with the Jesus who actually existed. She wrote, “We have very efficiently pared the claws of the Lion of Judah; certified him ‘meek and mild’ and recommended him as a fitting household pet for pale curates and pious old ladies. We cannot blink at the fact that Jesus, meek and mild, was so stiff in his opinions and so inflammatory in his language that he was thrown out of church, stoned, hunted from place to place, and finally gibbeted as a firebrand and a public danger.” Somebody has said, “When answering the question ‘What would Jesus do?’ we should always remember that turning over tables and chasing out the money changers with whips is within the range of options.” We have confused the Jesus of the Bible with the Jesus of our imagination.
When it comes to salvation, it is critical that we base our beliefs on what Jesus actually said instead of what we wish He had said. For example, Jesus claimed to be God. When Jesus lived, the Gentiles ruled the world. And the Gentiles, specifically the Romans, believed in a multitude of gods. Yet against that background, Jesus said, “I am the one true God.” To the Jews, Jesus said, “I am the God your forefathers worshipped in the Old Testament.”
Perhaps you’ve heard a myth that has been around for ages. It was popularized in “The Da Vinci Code.” The myth says that Jesus never really claimed to be God; that’s something His followers claimed long after He had died. The problem is that doesn’t coincide with historical fact. Over and over again, Jesus claimed to be God Himself. In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” In John 14:9, He said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” Isn’t it interesting that none of the founders of any other major religions ever claimed to be God? Buddha never claimed to be God. Confucius never claimed to be God. Mohammed never claimed to be God. Only Jesus claimed to be God. And He not only made that claim, but He proved the claim was true by what He did. Jesus claimed He could heal the sick, and He did. He claimed He could rise again from the dead, and He did. Jesus claimed to be God. That’s what made Him unique.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Intolerant Christ” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2015.
Dorothy Sayers, “Letters to a Diminished Church” (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2004), 4, 55.
Scripture quotations are taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.