As we journey towards Easter, our church is focusing on a sermon series on Wednesday nights called “Imitation Jesus.” My children have giggled at the images of Jesus with a fake mustache, but as an adult it has given me pause to really think about my own perceptions of Jesus.
Have you ever operated under a Jesus made in your own image instead of the other way around? I have fallen into this trap where I try to make Jesus into something instead of taking him as the Bible represents and as he represented himself. I’ve found that I have a hard time grasping who he is because his nature is so much different from my own fallen self. I want to take all of the “good” and “nice” things I see about Jesus and disregard the more difficult and tougher things I see.
When I think about the nature of my savior, here are the things that I struggle with about his nature, but that the Bible clearly states:
- A God who is merciful but also a just judge.
- A God who heals but within a world of sin.
- A God who is loving and gentle but can also be righteously angry.
- A God who gives us free will but wants us to freely choose him.
When we don’t take Jesus for all that he is, it’s settling. How often do I settle for an imitation of the real Jesus? Too often. Sometimes, that settling might be for something good…..but it’s not the best. It’s easy to think of Jesus as love and wishes and rainbows….and forget that by his very nature he is just and righteous. Without his intervention for us, God’s nature as just couldn’t allow us to live with him forever. A God who judges isn’t as pretty and fuzzy to think about. But it is the reality. Without that part of his nature, we wouldn’t need his Son and what we believe in would be pointless. And that means we have to guard against only accepting the parts of Jesus nature that sound good to us – the imitations:
Jesus answered: “Watch out that no one deceives you. For many will come in my name, claiming, ‘I am the Messiah,’ and will deceive many. You will hear of wars and rumors of wars, but see to it that you are not alarmed. Such things must happen, but the end is still to come. – Matthew 24:4-6
The savior who came to die for us so that we might have eternal life gives us only his best. He doesn’t want us to settle for our cheap fakes:
Jesus said to them, “Very truly I tell you, it is not Moses who has given you the bread from heaven, but it is my Father who gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is the bread that comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” “Sir,” they said, “always give us this bread.” Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty. But as I told you, you have seen me and still you do not believe. – John 6:32-36
There it is – his wish for us, placed in front of us freely. But like the people in this passage, am I the one who should be able to see the real Jesus and still don’t truly believe? I confess that I fail here!
Today I am going to focus on only accepting the real thing – the real Jesus. Won’t you join me in accepting the best that Jesus gives you?