Truth: Saviour vs Substitute.

Recently I read the two letters to the Corinthians, when I got to 2 Corinthians 11, the words just stood out to me.
I’ve read Corinthians many times before, I knew what was meant off-course but I never really gave the exact wording Paul used much thought. The phrasing he used made me think about something, something I’ve noticed in our own modern culture. Although I’m pretty sure this problem has obviously been ongoing since Paul’s day and never left us up until this present day but, I digress.
The words Paul used made me realize again how important this is, if we get this wrong… we get everything wrong.

But I (Paul) am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or if you accept a different gospel from the one you accepted, you put up with it readily enough.2 Corinthians 11:3-4 (Emphasis added)

Another Jesus.

In this passage of 2 Corinthians 11, Paul did not say that people came and proclaimed and preached another, different religion or another, different deity or another and different saviour with another, different name.
No, he said another “Jesus” – the same name, they, the false teachers still used the name “Jesus” but with a completely different person. A different “lord and saviour” with the same moniker.
They created a god in their own image, dubbed it with the name “Jesus” and claimed it to be the same as our Lord and Saviour, Jesus of Nazareth.

Another Jesus may seem right to us, he may seem good and great and he may even seem preferable to us but this “Jesus” is not the way the truth and the life. This “Jesus” can not save, this “Jesus” is the way to death.

There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. – Proverbs 14:12

Someone once said it’s not enough to ask someone whether or not they believed in God, but rather to ask what kind of a god do they believe in. What he meant by this was to ask the person to describe the god that he does, or does not for that matter, believe in.

“Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

This wording Paul used in 2 Corinthians 11 also raised the question: Why, why would they still choose to use the same name? They obviously did not like Him the way He is?
It made no sense to me.
The only reasons I could come up with is this: He is undeniable and He has extreme influence.
Very few people deny the existence of Jesus of Nazareth – He is a true, historical figure.
He was born between 6-4 BC and He physically walked on this earth. He was a Rabbi and He had a very large following, especially among the people from the northern parts of Judea, many did believe He was the promised messiah. He had twelve very close disciples that followed Him almost everywhere. And, Yes, He was in fact crucified by order of the Roman Governor, Pontius Pilot. The crucifixion took place during the Passover, in the year 30AD (some argue that it might have been 33 AD).
There are many historical, non-Biblical and non-Christian sources that accounts of Jesus’ existence and the events surrounding His life and death and the lives of His disciples.
Writings of historians like Josephus, Tacitus and Thallus are probably the best known contemporary or near-contemporary documentations, however there are many others.
All of this evidence makes it really difficult to deny His existence and the immense impact that Jesus had, not just in Judea but in the entire Roman Empire and beyond in the years prior to and after His death. It is also quite evident that even just a few years, maybe even just months, after His death, His name carried quite a lot of weight and value.

Just a side thought:
Two thousand years later and there has never been a person, neither before nor after, that has had more influence in the history of man. This man, humanly speaking of-course, that in His lifetime did not accomplish greatness, He was not a great king or conqueror, He did not have great power or position, He mostly walked around in small towns talking to people, He did not execute a great historical achievement – speaking in purely human and secular terms off-course and He did in fact execute the greatest historical achievement and…
again, I’m getting side tracked. Back to the post.

In that time, two thousand years ago, people knew they had to do something with this extremely influential figure and this has not changed right up to our more modern times.
Many religions, sects and faiths around the world and across the years acknowledge Jesus and His historical existence, some speaking very “highly” of Him, trying to explain and understand Him in various ways.
Some see Him as a teacher, some see Him as a prophet, some see Him as an angel. Some see Him as a holy man, some see Him as an enlightened or evolved person.
Some see Him as an activist and some see Him merely as a good example.
To be honest how other religions, sects or faiths, or even atheists or agnostics for that matter, view and regard Jesus is not nearly as important – actually, it’s not important at all! What is important is how Christians view and regard Him, those who claim to know, love and follow Him.

“But you, who do you say that I am?”

To know Him, really know Him is the most important thing in our lives.
It is much more important than any other pursuit in life. More important than pursuing any dream of our own, that dream career, that dream relationship or marriage, that dream achievement, that dream goal, that dream life.
It’s more important than living a nice, moral, humble, good, clean, happy, balanced, emotionally stable or self-satisfied life.
How do we not only claim and profess with our mouths to know Him but really know Him and then how do we act towards Him from that knowledge?
This people honours me with their lips, but their heart is far from me: in vain do they worship me…’ – Matthew 15:8-9
(Isaiah 29:13)

When we know Him for who He really is, know Him correctly we would come to Him, act towards Him and worship Him correctly. Without accurate knowledge of Him we can never come to Him in an accurate manner.
We, broken and imperfect human beings, have a propensity to come to the Lord Jesus and act towards Him in a wrong way.
Sometimes we act as if He is a magic genie or a faerie godmother that grants us all our hearts desires, you know, especially the very humble and noble desires that we claim to do or want for His sake.
Sometimes we act as if He is our own personal cheerleader who only exists to encourage and motivate us, to cheer us on in our daily lives.
Sometimes we act as if He is the supporting actor in the movie of our lives.
Sometimes we act as if He is a love-struck puppy who’s only joy and meaning in life and reason for existing is me,
to write songs, poetry and love letters to me, magnificent, wonderful me – in essence… to worship me…
The list can go on, but again, I’m getting a little sidetracked.

Back to the original point, another “Jesus” – a different person with the same name.
When we humans create a new person with a different character and different attributes and call this person, this new deity, “Jesus” – is it still the same?
Even if we call a false god by the true name it is still a false god – It. Is. Idolatry.
Yes, Idolatry.
We are then worshipping an idol, it might not be carved out of wood or stone, but it is an idol none the less – an idol carved out of our own minds and hearts.

To know God is not like standing in-front of an ice-cream buffet – picking the flavours and toppings we do like and saying “no, thanks” to the flavours and toppings we don’t like.
We don’t get to choose, we don’t get to decide,
God is not who we say He is.
God is who He is.
Our Lord Jesus the Christ, the Son of the Living God is who He is. (Exodus 3:14-15) (Matthew 16:13-20)

Who He is.

Now unfortunately, even-though I would love to, I cannot get into a big and deep Christological discussion here – a little bit because of time but… mostly because I am not a trained and qualified scholar and I am completely inadequate to do so. Probably no one is…
But! There are a few things about my Lord that I do know, because His word makes it perfectly clear and easy to understand.
However this is by no means, not even close, a complete or exhaustive list and look at who our Lord and Saviour is.

He is The Promised and Prophesied Messiah.

The one that all the Scriptures bear witness of. (John 5:39; Luke 24:26-27; Luke 24:44-45)
The people of Israel knew of the coming Messiah, the Anointed One, the Son of David (2 Samuel 7:12-16),
the Seed of the woman (Genesis 3:14-15). the Servant of God – the list can go on and on – who will come to make everything right again. The Perfect Sacrifice that will make atonement. (Leviticus)

Genesis 49:10; Exodus 12:21–27; Deuteronomy 21:23; 1 Samuel 2:10&35; Job 14:14; Job 19:25; Psalm 22; Psalm 31; Psalm 40; Proverbs 30:3-5; Isaiah 52-53; Isaiah 61:1-2; Jeremiah 23:5-6; Ezekiel 34:23-24; Daniel 7:13-14; Hosea 6:1-2; Micah 2:12-13; Micah 5:1-4; Zechariah 6:9-15; Zechariah 9:9; Zechariah 11:12-13
(insert the entire Old Testament here)
If you want to read more on Jesus and the Old Testament Prophesies click here.

He is The Word of God.

He, the Son, was there with the Father and The Holy Spirit in eternity.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” – John 1:1-18

John 14:10; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Hebrews 1:1-4; Colossians 2:8-10

He is The Lamb of God.

The Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world.
The only perfect and acceptable sacrifice that can atone for the sins of man.
The next day he saw Jesus coming towards him, and said, “Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” – John 1:29

Genesis 22:7-8; Isaiah 53:7; 1 Corinthians 5:7; 1 Peter 1:19; Revelation 5:6-7

He is the Good Shepherd.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.
I am the good shepherd. I know my own and my own know me, just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I lay down my life for the sheep.” – John 10:11,14-15

Psalm 23:1-6; Isaiah 40:11; Ezekiel 34:23-24; 1 Peter 2:25

He is the Way, the Truth, the Life.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” – John 14:6-7

Acts 4:12; Matthew 11:27; 1 John 5:20; Hebrews 10:18-20

He is the King of kings and the Lord of lords.

He has all authority in heaven and on earth and He reigns.
On His robe and on His thigh He has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. – Revelation 19:16

1 Timothy 6:15; Revelation 17:14; 2 Peter 3:18; Philippians 2:9-10; Matthew 28:18; Ephesians 1:20-22; Psalm 110

He is Worthy.

He is worthy of our respect and reverence, our love and adoration, or obedience and submission and He is worthy of our worship and praise.
Not only is He worthy because of what He did, He is worthy purely because of who He is.
Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honour and glory and blessing!” – Revelation 5:12

Revelation 5:9-14; Psalm 150

If we want to know Jesus, then who better to tell us about Him than He Himself in His word – remember He is not removed from His word.
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will not pass away. – Matthew 24:35
I have nothing against a “Red Letter Bible”… but then the whole Bible should be red letters because the whole of Scripture is God breathed. (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
Do not let your knowledge of Jesus be second-hand and even more so, do not let your knowledge of Jesus be false. To heed Paul’s warning, if anyone comes to you proclaiming another Jesus do not accept it as the Corinthians did – do not accept a substitute for our Saviour.

Please, I urge you to go and read all scripture quoted or mentioned in this blog posts.

Photo Credit: Photo by the very talented  Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash – Thank you.