The good news is that Jesus died to save us from sin and sinful lifestyles and so that we can be forgiven and move onto a better life with Him. Every Christian needs to understand that Jesus can forgive sins and we can have a relationship with Him on a daily and on-going basis; it doesn’t necessarily mean we have to be overly religious or singing hymns we don’t like or being self-righteous or anything like that at all, it’s beyond that in fact. We can still be normal people and be Christians after all. The message of Jesus is good news, so good and even so simple that people often miss the goodness in it and over-complicate what is essentially a simple message, a message of love, a message of peace, a message of hope, a message of reconciliation and ultimately a message of salvation.
We’ve all heard people talking about Jesus and writing about Jesus and even singing about Jesus, but what did He say about Himself? He had quite a lot to say about Himself, some of which may astound you and certainly astounded the people of His day; some of them loved Him for what He said, and others simply wanted to kill Him and get Him out of the picture, perhaps so some of them could get on with the business of being religious without any uncomfortable or awkward truths getting in the way.
I am going to look at some of what Jesus said about Himself and I will be using a New Jerusalem Bible.
“I am the bread of life. No one who comes to me will ever hunger; no one who believes in me will ever thirst.” (John 6:35) In some countries and regions on earth, hunger and thirst are issues that people have to deal with, sometimes on a daily basis. In Jesus’ times no doubt some people never went hungry and others were probably hungry most of the time. But we don’t just hunger and thirst for food and drink, as humans we hunger and thirst for God, for meaning, for justice, for a purpose and we certainly hunger for true peace in our lives. He is the bread of life, the very reason for our existence and the only sustenance that really fulfils; no other earthly thing, no success, accumulating wealth, high social status, nothing in fact can truly fulfil other than Jesus Himself.
“In truth I tell you. Unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven. And so, the one who makes himself as little as this little child is the greatest in the Kingdom of Heaven. Anyone who welcomes one little child like this in my name welcomes me. But anyone who is the downfall of one of these little ones who have faith in me would be better drowned in the depths of the sea with a great millstone around his neck.” (Matthew 18:3-6) In modern societies, there are often overt messages that we should be sophisticated, worldly and cynical about anything which might expose us to ridicule or taunts or just being seen as strange, for whatever reason. Godly wisdom turns worldly human wisdom on its head by asking us to be like little children, innocent, carefree, not aggressive and perhaps understanding more and accepting more than we do as worldly and sophisticated citizens. As Christians, we are to be free of worldliness, hatred, contempt, being judgemental and free of sinful lifestyles and knowing sinful behaviour of any kind. Yes, we will make mistakes, but God in His mercy can forgive in a spirit of gentleness when we truly try to serve Him with a whole heart. In making us like little children, we can start again and begin to appreciate God and his Creation with the wonder of little children.
“As he went along, he saw a man who had been blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should have been born blind?’ ‘Neither he nor his parents sinned,’ Jesus answered, ‘he was born blind so that the works of God might be revealed in Him.
‘As long as day lasts
we must carry out the work of the one
who sent me;
the night will soon be here
when no one can work.
As long as I am in the world
I am the light of the world’” John 9:1-5) It wasn’t just to prepare us for a glorious eternity in Heaven , Jesus coming into the world was also to heal peope from illnesses of many kinds, and conditions like epilepsy and leprosy and even blindness. Christians should understand that as well as life after death, there is also life before death; we can live a peaceful, joyful, happy and purposeful existence long before we reach the pearly gates! This might be a revelation to some people, to others it might not be, but I hope you understand that Jesus can bring you peace and security and happiness in the here and now, not just pie in the sky when you die! He is the light of the world, when often all we see around us is darkness and millions of people living in that darkness and preferring darkness to light, preferring what is futile and falsehood and emptiness to hope and truth.
“You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second resembles it: You must love your neighbour as yourself. On these two commandments hang the whole Law, and the Prophets too.” (Matthew 22:37-40) People can get hung up about law-keeping, but here Jesus states quite simply His two most important commandments, both based on love. If we proclaim that we are Christians, whilst hating other people for any reason at all, and not knowing God at all, what value our professed Christianity? Perhaps the whole Bible can be summed up in that four-letter word: LOVE. Without love, Christianity just becomes religion, tired people doing tired things, people preaching sermons no one really wants to hear, people busy doing ‘religious’ things, and for what? To tie themselves up in knots most probably. Reducing it all to love means we can sidestep religion and find what is of true value, or certainly what is most important in our Christian walk.
“I am the Way; I am Truth and Life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father too.” (John 14:6-7) Though there might be many religions, and even cults and sects of Christianity in the world, and many seeming saviours and great holy men, it is my firm belief that only through Jesus can we truly reach God and only through Jesus can we attain salvation. It is only through Him simply because He was the only Son of God and there is no other, no other holy man or woman can have this status simply because no other person was fully God and fully man. Knowing Jesus is knowing God, knowing God is to know Jesus. I have a firm belief that the Bible is the inerrant Word of God; we don’t need to add anything to it, and we certainly do not need to take anything away from it either. No other man or woman ever claimed that they were the way, the truth and life simply because no one else was, or is. Jesus is the door, the only one who can forgive, give us real hope, and save us for better things.