- Rodney Lee Mills
The Whole Jesus
Which Jesus Do You Know?
How would you describe Jesus? Do you know about Him or do you have a personal relationship with Him? Depending on your answer, you may only be seeing one side of Jesus. Unfortunately, the majority of churches today have done a disservice to Christians and unbelievers alike around the world by only showing the comfortable sides of Jesus.
Today, most people only know the Jesus that was a baby born in a manger. A far cry from the Messiah who not only came to save us but will someday also judge us. Romans 2:26 says “God will judge the secrets of men through Christ Jesus.” So instead of talking about this side of Jesus, the Jesus often portrayed in many churches is one who is compromised and often times only celebrated twice a year during Christmas and Easter with the Easter message being the closest thing to a repentance message.
The majority of churches today have only preached a Jesus whose loving nature is exploited and used as an excuse to shield the sinner from a daily confrontation of His Word that leads to repentance and sanctification. Feel good ministries increase in size but lack the life changing power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We often leave unchanged, entertained, and glad that the one-hour service is over so we can go about our daily lives.
So, what are some aspects of Jesus’s nature that often go ignored for the sake of comfort? Here are a few that I want to highlight through my own study of the Word.
A Holiness That Can Only Come Through Jesus
The Old Testament is filled with stories that provide a physical representation of spiritual lessons. One story that shows the holiness of God can be found in 2 Samuel 2:6-7, where it says, “But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it. And the anger of the Lord burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God.”
Some would say that God was too harsh and that Uzzah was doing a “good work” by preventing the Ark of the Covenant from falling over. The reality is that God’s instructions were to be followed to the very detail and no good work by humankind was above that.
We are called to follow the entire Word of God. We do not have the luxury of picking and choosing what Bible verses we like that fit our lifestyle. Additionally, being a “good person” is not good enough. If that was the case, why would Jesus go through what He went through if our works could save us? God is Holy and Righteous and not seeing this side of Him hinders the godly fear that leads to repentance.
Though harsh, the Good News is that Jesus died for our sins and it was not by our good works that we are saved and able to go before God. It is only through Jesus that we can be reconciled with God.
A Challenging Jesus
Jesus says in Luke 9:23, “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross daily and follow me.” Jesus is calling us not just to accept the salvation He gave us but to also take up the difficult daily task of following Him. Taking up our cross daily doesn’t sound like a task for those who are looking to feel good about themselves and continue to live a sinful life. A cross is used to crucify and Jesus is calling us to do this daily.
In Luke 9:57-62 it says, “As they were walking along the road, someone said to Jesus, “I will follow You wherever You go.” Jesus replied, “Foxes have dens and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay His head.” Then He said to another man, “Follow Me.” The man replied, “Lord, first let me go and bury my father.” But Jesus told him, “Let the dead bury their own dead. You, however, go and proclaim the kingdom of God.” Still another said, “I will follow You, Lord; but first let me bid farewell to my family.” Then Jesus declared, “No one who puts his hand to the plow and then looks back is fit for the kingdom of God.”
I don’t know about you but I don’t know too many people who would respond to a person who just lost their father in a way that Jesus did. The truth is that Jesus saw the man’s heart and challenged him to stop making excuses and follow Him. How many times have we made excuses to God? Jesus is clearly telling us the time is now for salvation and to immediately follow Him.
Don’t get me wrong, the compassionate Jesus should not be loss in all of this. We know that through the Book of John chapter 11, Jesus is a compassionate person because He wept when He saw the sorrow of Lazarus’s loved ones. This was right before He was going to raise Lazarus from the dead. But there is a side of Jesus who will not hold back if it means that someone is endanger of losing out on salvation. With the discernment of the Holy Spirit, we should do the same.
An Expectant Jesus
In John 5:1-9 it says, “Sometime later there was a feast of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. Now there is in Jerusalem near the Sheep Gate a pool with five covered colonnades, which in Hebrew is called Bethesda. On these walkways lay a great number of the sick, the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed. One man there had been an invalid for thirty-eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and realized that he had spent a long time in this condition, He asked him, “Do you want to get well?” “Sir,” the invalid replied, “I have no one to help me into the pool when the water is stirred. While I am on my way, someone else goes in before me.” Then Jesus told him, “Get up, pick up your mat, and walk.” Immediately the man was made well, and he picked up his mat and began to walk.”
Another Jesus that is often missed is an expectant Jesus. As you can see from the story, Jesus’s response to the man’s excuses was not to help the man pick up his mat. Instead, Jesus told him to pick it up himself and walk. How many people are not challenged in this way because we want to show the “love of Christ?” As Jesus showed us, there are times when we will have to provide a stern word and tell those if they want to get better, they will have to take it upon themselves to act and not wait around for a handout of for someone to help them.
A Divisive Jesus
In Luke 12:49-52 it says, “I have come to ignite a fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled! But I have a baptism to undergo, and how distressed I am until it is accomplished! Do you think that I have come to bring peace to the earth? No, I tell you, but division. From now on, five in one household will be divided, three against two and two against three. They will be divided, father against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against mother-in-law.”
God’s Word is like a sword and it will cut to the heart of matters regardless of how personal or controversial. How many of us are fearful of messages that counter the acceptable norms of society? How many churches have compromised the Holiness and Word of God to maintain their large numbers of church attendees? While a loving Jesus that is full of grace and mercy is part of His nature and the Gospel message, a Jesus whose teachings will divide family members and separate the church from society is also part of who He is. Often times, it is this divisive side of Jesus that forces us to look at the parts of our lives and society that are dark and need of His light. It cannot be excluded.
Jeremiah 23:29 says, “"Is not my Word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces?” This is just one of many verses in the Bible that talks about a side of God that is unfortunately absent in many churches and discussions today. If we are to spread God’s Word, let us share the whole Word to a world who is in desperate need of it.
As a young Christian, the scariest Bible verses to me was Matthew 7:21-23 where it says, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and, in your name, perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
Still today, I call these the scariest verses in the Bible because it says that there are people sitting in churches today or listening online that may miss out on the real Jesus who loved us, died for us, and has called us to die to ourselves daily so that we might know Him better. It is only through knowing the real Jesus and having a transformational relationship with Him that we are able to witness to others and further His kingdom.
There are of course many other aspects of Jesus in the Bible that challenge us beyond the ones I described above. The point I want to make is that ignoring these aspects in order to coddle congregations and unbelievers greatly cripples the message of salvation and allows the believer and unbeliever to think it’s okay to stay the way we are because society has accepted it.
We should accept all people with an expectation that they will receive salvation and then the transformational power of the Holy Spirit will not keep them the same.
Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” If we are to emulate Jesus, we must know all sides of Him so that He can live through us to bring the Gospel to a lost people.