Jesus is our focus in this blog series based on Josh’s best-selling apologetics classic: More Than a Carpenter. Why does learning about who Jesus is matter? Because this exploratory journey helps us to definitively answer “Who am I? … “Why am I here?” and “What’s the point of life?”
Why is Jesus the only way to understand ourselves and the meaning of life? Read on!
Jesus: The Only Way?
In our world of seemingly unlimited choice and personal preference, it can be really hard to believe there is ONE way to the truth. “Why is Jesus the only way?” many ask, when Buddha and numerous other options seem just as plausible. “I don’t need a Savior,” they’re quick to add. “I’m a good person.”
Perhaps … but don’t people think they get to define “good” for themselves? Society actively encourages us to find our own “truth,” right? Even as it pushes aside an “s” word that really can’t be swept under the rug: our SIN, and its consequences.
Let’s look a bit at the elephant in the room. “How,” ask some, “can a supposedly loving God send me or anyone else to hell? Isn’t that the exact opposite of loving?”
Josh McDowell’s reply is this: “How can a holy, just, and righteous God allow a sinful person in His presence? He is not only a God of love but also a God who is righteous, just and holy. He can’t tolerate sin in His heaven any more than you could tolerate a filthy, foul-smelling, diseased dog living in your home. This misunderstanding about the basic nature of God is the cause of many theological and ethical problems.”
So, Jesus came and died for you, me, and everyone else, giving us unfiltered access to a personal relationship with God. That’s why Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the LIFE.” Part of our relationship with God includes living with Him in eternity.
So the truth, no matter how we slice and dice it: God doesn’t send anyone to hell; people choose it for themselves when they reject Jesus as Savior. “But,” many assert, “that’s not fair!”
What parent hasn’t heard their child utter the same words? But fair to whom? The willful child, whose perception is limited and entirely self-focused? Or the parent, who sees the bigger picture and knows what is good for the child?
Look, we’re all born self-absorbed and selfish. “Well,” suggest some, “that’s God’s fault, if He created us.”
Actually, we can’t lay any blame on God. Because God has graciously given us FREE WILL to make our own choices. So, ultimately, the choices we make are on us, not Him.
Jesus: The Ultimate Sacrifice
God wants us so much, though, that He came to us in human form — through Jesus — to redeem us. In His choosing to be sacrificed on the cross, Jesus met God’s holy and just requirements so that we don’t have to. In removing our “contamination” (circling back to the “filthy, foul-smelling, diseased dog” metaphor), we can stand “clean” in God’s presence.
If you’re not yet grasping just how HUGE a deal this is, keep pondering it. Allow the magnitude of Jesus’ selfless act to settle deep into your mind and heart. Jesus wasn’t just a “great teacher” or “healer.” He sacrificed Himself on YOUR behalf.
“But if Jesus really was God,” you might be thinking, “He didn’t really die. That would have been impossible. So His ‘sacrifice’ isn’t as monumental as you’re trying to make it out to be.”
Ah. Yes, I can see the logic in how you got there. But remember that Jesus was also fully human. So He felt every sting of the whips as they ripped apart his skin and muscles. And He felt the pain of every jagged breath as He labored for hours on the cross. Jesus symbolically died for you. But He also literally died for you — to prove the depth of God’s love. (Who do you love so much that YOU would endure this torture?)
A man stood before the judge, awaiting the judge’s verdict. “I find you guilty as charged,” announced the judge, “and order you to pay a fine of $1000 or ten days in jail.” Then he did an amazing thing. He stood up, took off his robe, stepped down from the bench, and paid the man’s fine. Why? The judge was the man’s father. He loved his son, yet he was a just judge. Because he loved his son, he couldn’t let his son off, but he willingly paid his fine. This story illustrates what God has done for us through Jesus.
Like this judge, when God looks at us, in spite of His tremendous love for us, He has to bring the gavel down and say death because He is a righteous God. And yet, because He also is a loving God, He came down from His heavenly throne and put on human skin, to pay the price for our redemption.
It’s at this point that you might ask, “Well, why can’t God just forgive me without requiring any payment?”
The answer is that where there is forgiveness, there is payment. If you total someone’s car, and they forgive you, there is still the cost of replacing the vehicle. If someone insults you in front of others, and later you graciously say, “I forgive you,” who has shouldered the price of the insult witnessed by others? You have.
This is what God has done for us: He has said, “I forgive you.” But then paid the price for His forgiveness. It’s not a payment that Buddha, Muhammad, Confucius, nor any other religious or ethical leader can ever offer. And you can’t pay the price by being a “good person.” The ONLY way is through Jesus. Will you accept His love and grace today?
Jesus: He’s More Than a Carpenter!
> Watch how More Than a Carpenter changed one reader’s life AND set off a chain reaction that introduced many others to Jesus. That’s how the truth of God’s love is shared: person to person!
> Want to learn more about starting YOUR personal relationship with Jesus? Click here.