Jesus. Just the mention of his name causes controversy. Athletes and famous people will thank God, but very few will actually mention his name. Many, including Muslims and Buddhists, will say that Jesus was a good man, but nothing more than that. Pull 10 people aside and ask them who Jesus is and you just might get 10 different answers. So who is Jesus, and is he really worth following?
To understand who Jesus is, you first have to understand who he is not. He was not just a good man. He didn’t claim that. He claimed to be God himself. So he was either telling the truth, he was a liar, or he was a madman. And there is no in between. This is the difficult thing about Jesus. There is no middle road with him. You either believe who he said he was, or you don’t. You can’t pick and choose with Jesus. By the very nature of who he is, he forces you to take a side.
So let’s just say that we believe Jesus is who he said he was. After all, there is very good reason to believe that. The cross and the resurrection are historical events that can be verified, and were documented by authors who had no reason to believe them or write about them, if they were false. Further, they would have had no reason to die for something they knew was a lie. Logic itself tells you that Jesus is a good choice.
But I think it would be a mistake to follow Jesus based on historical evidence alone. Historical events have no personal connection with me. Why do I care if someone died and rose again? That has no application for my life. Then there is the fact that following Jesus is a difficult thing. You will get persecuted and made fun of for it. Some have lost their jobs, families, homes, and even lives because they decided to follow Jesus. Jesus himself said that if we didn’t take up our cross and follow him that we were not worthy of him. Living for Jesus is not a bed of roses, it is hard work.
So why follow Jesus? It’s simple. One of the most well-known verses in the Bible starts with the phrase “For God so loved the world…” Those might be the six most powerful words in the entire Bible. The same Apostle John later wrote that, “We love him because he first loved us.” Jesus wasn’t just a man full of wisdom, power, and knowledge but he was the God-man who was full of love for lost humanity. As the old song says, “The great Creator became my Savior.” The power of the gospel is that God became a man and came to save me. It wasn’t just that he came to save the world, he came to save me… personally.
The love of God was fully demonstrated on the cross. As Jesus hung there in agony all of us were on his mind. He could have walked away at any time. He could have refused to go with the guards who came to arrest him. He could have come down from the cross because the pain was too much. But while he hung there, exhausted and in extreme pain, he thought of us and decided to stay on the cross. I tell our congregation all the time that following Jesus will cost you. As a matter of fact, it will cost you everything. But what you give up doesn’t compare with what you receive in return.
So why follow Jesus? Because he demonstrated his love for me and I have experienced it for myself. It’s more than a story or a historical event. It’s personal. If you have been let down by life and people, I challenge you to give Jesus a try because he will never let you down.