Modern gnostics like to compare Jesus Christ to other great religious leaders, like Confucius, Mohammed, Moses, the Dalai Lama, or some other. But there is a reason Christ was named the "Man of the Millennium" as the 21st Century came our way -- it is because He is the Greatest, the Master, the Best.
The breath-taking works of the Master might be overlooked because they have become so familiar to many of us. As He healed the sick, delivered loved ones form the grip of death, and gave speech to the mute, the gospel narrative takes us along side the Lord with reports like this one: "And they were astonished beyond measure, saying, 'He has done all things well. He makes both the deaf to hear and the mute to speak.'" (Mk. 7:37). Jesus was different. To be close to Jesus Christ was to have one's life changed -- permanently. (Acts 4:13).
Other teachers (some God-ordained, some not) taught kind deeds, but raising the dead, casting out demons, and giving sight to the blind are in a separate category -- unique to Imannuel. Christians are taught to "maintain good works," but they are not expected to do the miraculous deeds performed by Christ. And although the apostles were accompanied by miraculous signs from the Holy Spirit, they bowed and worshiped the Master. He was, and is, "the Lord."
Mohammed did not claim to do signs. Moses may have parted the Red Sea, but his passing from the scene was accompanied by a reminder of his sin, (Deut. 31:48-52) much unlike the resurrection of Jesus Christ "Who was delivered up because of our offenses, and was raised because of our justification" (Rom. 4:25).
Do you see the difference between mere men and the sinless Son of God?
Religious leaders condemned hypocrisy, and so they should have. However, the paradox for religious teachers is that they, being sinners, teach others to do what they have failed to do. "You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?" (Rom. 2:23), from Paul "the chiefest of sinners") The text concludes that all are under sin and in need of a Savior -- the Christ reported by the gospel.
Jesus Christ condemned hypocrisy most vehemently! (Matt. 23). The difference with Jesus is that He did not sin. For anyone condemning sin without the disclaimer "the Lord rebuke thee," (Jude 9) he will be called "the pot calling the kettle black!" Not so with Jesus Christ, "who did no sin, neither was guilt found in His mouth." He is different.
Other religious teachers teach a peculiar way of life, including benevolence, moral purity, reverence, humility, and other such virtues. The problem is -- and this problem is something that skeptics attribute to all religions -- that we could never know that a certain way of living guarantees eternal life until we pass on to the next world. Jesus illuminated His way of life with His resurrection.
He proved the outcome of the Christian way. Once, when a paralyzed man was brought to Him, He sensed the unbelief of his detractors, and asked them if it was easier to pronounce a man forgiven, or to heal him of paralysis? Then, He gave the man back his health right before their eyes. (Mk. 2).
Jesus' way is The Way. (Jno. 14:6). How can we expect people to deny themselves their wants (and perhaps their needs), to frame their families, to live outside the regular foul language and lewdness of thought, to be their brothers' keepers, without any proof that the Bible way is the absolute, bona fide lifestyle that a person should live?
Jesus Christ was the sepreme debater. He did not bring us a yin and a yang with feeble explanations that everything has some good and some bad. He did not equivocate with the religious elite who sought to catch Him in His own speech.
With political debates at the forefront today, we are aware of how treacherous public confrontation can be. Public Opinion can be swayed. Any debater can have a bad day. The whole cause might be lost on the bad turn of an argument.
As He taught in the temple the Jewish rulers sent officers to arrest Him. When they returned empty-handed their superiors asked why they had not accomplished their mission, to which they said: "No man ever spoke like this man!" (Jno. 7:46). At the end of His final week, wherein the Pharisees tried Him on every point, the record says: "And no one was able to answer Him anymore." (Matt. 22:46).
Being a great debater does not always make a person right, but the Lord is noteworthy in that He was never intimidated or corrected, nor did He renounce His God-given message, even on the cross.
He is in a unique position to expose false teachers, including the great ones like Confucius and Mohammed. If they contradicted the truth about the way of the cross, they needed to be corrected.
The great socieatal quagmire of political correctness makes no place for false teachers these days. For many there are no false philosophers or religion, only different. Truth to them is always relevant. Jesus Christ would have had none of it.
To the Samaritan woman He said: "Salvation is of the Jews." He spoke on taxes, divorce, honoring parents, swearing, and how to treat the Romans -- all touchy and tedious subjects. Along the way He showed no regard for the false teacher.
On one occasion His disciples feared: "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying? But He answered and said, 'Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.'" (Matt. 15:12-14).
Christ was not a politician; He was a preacher of the gospel. God's power unto salvation. The truth was too precious to give place to nonsense.
Putting Him in the mix with all the other religious teachers is an injustice to the power of the works that are wrought in His name; a compromise with the purity which He expects of all of us; and insult to the Christian way of life; an affront to the truth He debated; and a surrender to the false eachers of the world.
The word invites us to walk alongside the Master. To accept is to find eternal life; to neglect the invitation is to be lost.
By George Hutto in Tidings, Vol. 26, Sept. 2012.
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