06 Sep What Impression do you have of Jesus? Who is Jesus to You?
As Christians, we have to be careful about the image we have in our minds of who or what Jesus is. A lot of the times, many Christians and others have a false impression of who Jesus really is. Your response to the above questions will determine if you are on the right path or not.
First, Jesus was a Galilean, who was rejected in His own home town and not even His (cousin) brothers welcomed Him as they had a false familiarity with Jesus.
John 4:44 states that “(for Jesus himself had testified that a prophet has no honor in the prophet’s own country)”. Even His (cousin) brothers who lived with Jesus did not believe in Him.
Familiarity breeds contempt. Just because you are so familiar with Jesus doesn’t mean you know everything about Jesus. Just because you are so familiar with someone doesn’t mean you know them very well.
Does reading the Bible bring you closer to Jesus or away from Him?
Just because you are spending so much time reading the Bible or celebrating the Eucharist everyday doesn’t mean you know everything about Jesus and believe in Him properly. By reading the Bible, does it make us fall in love with Jesus or does it make us take everything for granted. Is reading the Bible and knowing more about Jesus making you humble or making you proud? We need to remember this because it’s a clear sign that we are knowing Jesus in a wrong way. Are you becoming more humble, kind, compassionate, generous, loving, patient and so on. If not, then you have a false notion and familiarity with Jesus.
Do you believe in Jesus because of signs and wonders?
We read in John 4:45 that when Jesus came to Galilee, the Galileans welcomed Him, since they had seen all that he had done in Jerusalem at the festival; for they too had gone to the festival. They saw how Jesus chased those who were desecrating the temple out of it and heard Him say He would destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days. So, the Galileans saw how Jesus performed miracles in Jerusalem.
We read in John 2:23 that “When he was in Jerusalem during the Passover festival, many believed in His name because they saw the signs that He was doing.”
The brothers of Jesus now welcome Jesus not because they know Jesus very well, but because they have a wrong impression about Jesus.
Brethren, many people view Jesus as someone who will give them lots of financial and material blessings; someone who will heal all their sicknesses and provide a solution to all their problems. As such, they go to the places where they would find these miracles, regardless of whether it’s their own denominations or not. Therefore, any pastor or evangelist who promises miracles and wonders, would attract such people. And if the miracles and wonders are not forth coming with one denomination/sect, they immediately leave for another. This is the false image that many people have of Jesus.
Fr Joseph spoke of how many years ago he went to another country to preach the gospel during a three-day retreat. He said, he remembers that during the first day of the retreat he cracked some jokes. He said they were actually some blunders that turned in to a joke. Fr said that after the retreat, a lady came up to him to appreciate his handling of the retreat and told him that he was a brilliant stand-up comedian, to which he responded no, but said he was a Catholic priest. Fr said even though he knew the lady was just trying to give him some appreciation, he also knew that it was not the image he himself wanted to portray as the leader of a retreat. Fr Joseph said this is also the impression that we sometimes have of Jesus. After seeing the miracles, reading the Bible etc., we come up with a conclusion about Jesus, which need not be the truth.
If you look into the world, you will see that every denomination has an impression about Jesus. And all these impressions are not what Jesus is. Jesus is different and that’s why each time Jesus performed miracles, He often told those who were healed or touched not to tell anyone, because He knew people might have a wrong or false impression of Him. He didn’t want people to think of Him primarily as “a miracle worker, a deliverer or a healer or someone who had come to conquer the world etc.”. He wanted everyone to know he had come to suffer, die and to save the world. If the healings and miracles were promoted more, they wouldn’t have gotten the picture of the crucifixion. For this reason, Jesus told those He healed not to tell anyone and after the resurrection he commissioned everyone to go out and announce the biggest good news – that the Savior came down from heaven, suffered and died on the cross to wash away our sins and rose again on the third day and lives to die no more. And because of this, we are all forgiven. Therefore, the good news doesn’t mean healing, deliverance, but forgiveness of sin. This is what we need to remember. What use is it if you get miracles and wonders, yet you are always haunted by your past sins and depression etc?
When the Priest says your sins are forgiven, do you believe 100% that you are truly forgiven?
The biggest healing the whole world is in need of is forgiveness of sins. Someone has to tell you that your sins are forgiven with authority and your sins should be forgiven completely.
Fr Joseph said the Lord wants everyone to know the good news of forgiveness of sins.
Dear brethren, why are many people not happy, falling into depression, feeling lonely and unable to accept each other? Why has the world become a turmoil? It’s because the world is missing this good news. People are waiting for the one who has authority over this universe, and who created each one of us, to tell us all to our face that our sins are forgiven. And if they hear this good news, their attitude and the whole world will be changed. And that’s why Jesus said we should go and proclaim this good news to the ends of the earth. If you believe it, you will see the miracles. Many people fall into depression, anger, confusion, and many things because when they think about their sins, they hide behind their guilt, hate themselves and are unable to lift their heads up. They feel the weight of the sins pulling them down. But Jesus is holding you up and telling you that your sins are forgiven. Jesus wants you to know only this good news – that He loves you and forgives your sins. When you make a thorough confession, the Lord accepts you the way you are.
There are many people who are depressed and cannot forgive themselves for their past sins even though Jesus has already forgiven them through a thorough confession. When Jesus forgives you, He doesn’t remember your sins. So, why are you remembering them? You are like a clean sheet of paper when you leave the confessional. You should only be interested in the good works written on you going forward, as opposed to thinking about the rubbish that was written on you in the previous page. The page has already been turned, so why do you keep looking back at the old page? Forgive yourself and move on.
Do you have an intimate relationship with Jesus?
Many people have intimate relationships with other people or things except Jesus. Most often, our relationship with Jesus is rather passive and many only think about Jesus when they have a problem or when they want a miracle. Can you say with all confidence that you know Jesus? Is everything you do centered on Jesus? Do you feel like you cannot do without Jesus? Do you tell Jesus that you are nothing without Him? Do you have a personal and intimate relationship with Jesus, in a way that you know Him, and He knows you? Can you make the decision to spend time with Jesus, rather than hanging out with your friends at a bar or sitting and involving in gossip with others? Are you courageous enough to tell others despite their ridicule that you want to spend time with Jesus, rather than coming to a party with them? Can you still trust Jesus when the whole world rejects you? Can you still count on Jesus when you are not receiving healing? Can you still trust Jesus when your marriage is on rocks and your in-laws are against you and so on?
Hold unto Jesus, because when you have a problem, not even your social media friends whom you sought likes from will help you. Just like the royal official in John 4:46 who trusted Jesus’ word that his son would be healed, we should also have a relationship of trust with Jesus.
We read in Psalm 118:8 that “It is better to take refuge in the LORD than to put confidence in mortals.”
Psalm 146:3 reads “Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.”
Do you make friendship with influential People whom you hope will help you?
As we grow as a community, a parish, a bishop, a pastor or an evangelist, we may have the tendency to make friendships with the influential people so that we will be saved, especially in a country where we are persecuted. We will tend to have a pleasing mentality towards our government officials so that when we have problems, they will help us. But none of these people will be able to help. Jesus was the most influential person in the world, but when he had a problem, only the heavenly Father could help.
Psalm 146:4 states that “When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.” Therefore, put your trust only in God. You might be the fan of a movie star or cricket star, but remember that they too are struggling with their own inner selves. In their secret lives they are crying to God to help them. Remember that all these people will depart from this world and return to the earth and on that day their plans perish.
In verse 5 we read that “Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God…”. If you put all your trust in God and not depending on any human being, then you will be happy all your life. Some people put their trust in their pockets, and wallets. If they have little or no money, they become scared. If they have money in their pockets or bank accounts, they feel safe. “Happy are those whose help is in the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD their God…”.
In Isaiah 30:1-2 the Lord says “Oh rebellious children, says the LORD, who carry out a plan, but not mine; who make an alliance, but against my will, adding sin to sin; who set out to go down to Egypt without asking for my counsel, to take refuge in the protection Pharaoh, and to seek shelter in the shadow of Egypt;”
There are people who make friendships with groups and people who are influential and they don’t want to hurt these so-called influential people and in trying to belong and be accepted, they compromise their good values by turning to the worldly values of the so-called influential people. Are you one of those who drink alcohol or smoke or take drugs or take bribes or involved in other ungodly activities because you just want to belong and not be laughed at? Etc.
A lot of people make friendships with the devil worshippers, drunkards, drug addicts and party-goers so they are not rejected. They seek shelter under such people. They seek shelter with the devil. Many youngsters think that to survive, they need to take shelter under the devil. This is because just like the Galileans, they don’t know Jesus and have a wrong impression about Jesus. If you know who Jesus is, how much power He has, how much He sacrificed for you, you will be capable of standing alone and you will even dare to stand alone in front of the whole universe because you know you are not alone. We have lost our identity – the image of the child of God. The friendship which you are trying to protect and you are hiding under such groups, will bring you shame and humiliation. You may think that by being in such groups etc. you will always be protected. But it’s all lies because you will end up in shame and disgrace.
Are miracles the criteria for determining whether someone is from God or not?
Brethren, many people only believe when they see miracles and wonders. Remember that miracles and wonders are not the criteria for determining whether a person is from God or not, because the devil can also perform miracles.
2 Thessalonians 2:8-10 says “And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of the Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” So, the anti-Christ (the lawless one) will be destroyed by the power of the Holy Spirit and will be completely annihilated by the coming of Jesus. Are you following Jesus because of the truth or because of miracles and wonders? If you are looking for miracles and wonders, you may end up joining the lawless one. We may be counted among the perishing people. Everyone should fall in love with Jesus and have an intimate relationship with Him otherwise everything is a waste.
Miracles and wonders will never transform anyone, but will just give them excitement. But the crucifixion will transform you. During three years of Jesus’ ministry, all the disciples saw all the miracles He performed. Jesus walked on water, multiplied the loaves, healed the sick, calmed the sea and so on. But when Jesus was about to die, the disciples all left Him. The miracles did not change the disciples. The centurion who saw how Jesus died, said truly this man was the son of God. This is true conversion that has nothing to do with seeing any miracles or wonders, but seeing the way Jesus died. This showed Jesus’ true identity. We should fall in love with Jesus, not by seeing all the miracles, but rather, looking at the cross and the way He died for us. Then, we will have intimacy with Him and not excitement. Many Christians are excited Christians and not intimate Christians. The Lord wants us to have an intimate relationship with Him and fall in love with Him. When you see somebody die for you, that’s when you fall in love with that person. When you see somebody performing miracles for you, that’s when you get excited for that person and follow him. You can follow a person in two ways – out of love and out of excitement. Those who follow Jesus with excitement, will deny Him when the excitement reduces. When Peter, James and John saw the miracle on Mount Tabor, they were excited and wanted to be there with Jesus and even forgot about everything. But when they came to Gethsemane, they found it boring. They started sleeping. They all deserted Jesus because there was no excitement.
Look within yourself to see if you truly love Jesus, or whether you are just excited about Him.