Keepin’ the Faith: A conflict of interest

Pastor Dave Bootsma looks at the life and death of Jesus Christ as Christians mark Good Friday and prepare to celebrate Easter

  • Mar. 29, 2013 10:00 a.m.

I could accept Jesus as a martyr, an embodiment of sacrifice, and a divine teacher, but not as the most perfect man ever born. His death on the cross was a great example to the world, but that there was anything like a mysterious or miraculous virtue in it, my heart could not accept.  — Gandhi

I believe that Gandhi speaks for many in our society today. The question is, of course, on what basis does one accept one thing about Jesus, while not accepting another? “Well, I don’t believe in the supernatural or miracles.” Yes, but does that make it untrue? The magnitude of Jesus’ claims make it incumbent upon us not to just doubt that he is not God, you’d better KNOW that he is not God. If there is a chance that it is true and you miss it, your life is ruined.

“But why would I consider Jesus?” Well, first, you have the fact that Jesus made claims about being God in flesh, and that he was bringing to earth the Kingdom of God. Then you have the claims of hundreds of people who say that Jesus performed miracles. More than that, you have hundreds of people saying that not only did Jesus die, but they personally saw him risen from the dead. This is why we celebrate Easter still today, after all.   What is noteworthy is that you have these followers proclaiming Jesus’ resurrection within a generation of the life of Jesus, when the claims about him could have been disproved. Christianity exploded from the very start. There was no time for Jesus to become a legend.

If he is not who he claimed to be, can we even call him a “good” man? Wouldn’t we have to assume that he was a liar?

What other options do we have? A lunatic who fooled himself and all his followers? Consider the impact of his life and teaching. Indeed, it is hard to believe in who Jesus says he is, but it is even harder not to.

Pastor and theologian Timothy Keller argues that the fact is, all of us have a bias when it comes to the claims of Jesus. After all, if Jesus’ claims are true it is going to affect the way you live. Changes are going to have to take place. You will lose control of your life. You don’t call the shots, you have to do what he says. He taught that all that you are and all that you have belongs to him, and is to be used for his purposes.

In other words, you cannot be objective when it comes to the claims of Jesus. There is a conflict of interest!  You have a tremendous motive not to believe it. How many of us can honestly say that when we looked into the claims of Christ we said to ourselves, “If what I find here to be true, I am prepared to give up everything to follow, serve, worship and know Jesus?”

But why did Jesus come to earth, live, die and rise again? So that we might have eternal and full lives; so that we might find freedom, purpose, joy and peace.  Knowing him is the key to it all.

What will you do with Jesus? Ignoring him is not an option. Doesn’t he warrant a little investigation at least?

Dave Bootsma is pastor of Free Grace Vernon (www.freegracevernon.com)