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Jesus Believed In Jesus
Maybe you believe in Jesus. Maybe you don’t. Oh sure, almost all sane and educated people believe that Jesus was a real person, a religious teacher, who lived some 2000 years ago. Even the Koran mentions Jesus 25 times. Though the Islamic scripture does not portray Jesus as did His Apostles, it does not question His existence. Too much evidence exists for anyone wanting any credibility to deny Jesus’ existence.
Indeed, Jesus’ existence is rationally undeniable. What is routinely questioned, however, are facts related to His identity. Who was Jesus? Who is Jesus? His Apostles provided the answers to these questions in their preaching. And, thankfully, the message they preached has been faithfully preserved in their writings. They unashamedly, and at great personal cost, called people to believe in Jesus.
To believe in Jesus, as His Apostles believed and encouraged others to believe, certainly means more than to merely believe in His existence. Clearly, before Jesus was crucified, His existence was never in question. His identity was the issue then and it remains the core issue to this day. Thus, the Apostles faithfully presented Jesus to the world as He had presented Himself. They were eye witnesses to the things Jesus said and did. What they saw and heard convinced them to believe in Jesus.
Give the New Testament scriptures a fair reading, and you will find that before the Apostles believed in Jesus, Jesus believed in Jesus. That is, Jesus believed in His glorious identity. Before they believed He was the Son of God, He believed He was the Son of God. Before they believed He was the Christ (Israel’s Messiah), He believed He was the Christ. Before they believed He was the Savior, the Lord of Life, Lord of lords and King of kings, He believed all these things.
One day while on a journey with His disciples, Jesus asked them this question: “Who do people say I am?” Notice, this is an identity question. They told Him that various ideas were being tossed about. “Some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, others Jeremiah or one of the prophets,” they replied (Matthew 16:14). Then the Master asked this, “But who do you say that I am?” (Matthew 16:15 emphasis mine). Peter spoke up for the group, “You are the Christ [Messiah], the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). Though Jesus was pleased with the response and affirmed its accuracy, He instructed His disciples to keep this information among themselves – for awhile.
Jesus obviously knew Mary was His mother, but He also knew that God was His Father in a unique way. When Jesus turned 12, He went to Jerusalem with His family for one of the major Jewish feasts. On the trip home, Mary discovered that Jesus was not in the band of friends and family traveling from Jerusalem. Rather panic-stricken, she returned to Jerusalem to find Jesus at the Temple engaging the religious leaders in discussions about spiritual truths. When Mary rebuked Him, He asked her “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s House?” (Luke 2:49). Though most people likely thought Joseph was His father, Jesus and Mary knew better. God was His Father. And His public references to this fact created no small problems for the Master.
Once a man who was too short to get a glimpse of the approaching Jesus, climbed a tree to see over the crowd blocking his view. He not only saw Jesus, Jesus saw him and invited Himself to the man’s home. It was in Zacchaeus’ home that Jesus said He “came to seek and save the lost” (Luke 19:10). Jesus believed people were lost, needing a Savior. He believed He was that Savior. He believed He was sent by the Father on a rescue mission.
To die on the Cross as a sacrifice for sin was an integral part of the mission Jesus believed was His. Just hours before His death, in the Garden of Gethsemane, He agonized over this weighty part of the mission. There in prayer to His Father, He made peace with this final costly step of obedience, which was for our benefit. Listen to His words in the Garden: “Oh my Father, if this cup cannot pass away from me unless I drink it, Your will be done” (Matthew 26:42).
Jesus believed we could not save ourselves; we needed a Savior. If we could have saved ourselves, He could have stayed in heaven and let us. But we couldn’t; we can’t. You and I, by our sin, have incurred a debt to God we cannot pay. He believed He was that Savior. He believed He was qualified to pay our debt; that is, He was sinless. Thus, He could shed His blood for our sin, since He had no sin-debt of His own. His bold profession of that truth is recorded for us: “I always do what pleases [the Father]” (John 8:29). An Apostle stated it this way: “God made Him [Jesus] who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
There in that garden where Jesus last met with His disciples, the betrayer led soldiers to arrest Him. One of His followers began to fight against the arrest. In fact, He drew his sword and whacked off the ear of one of those men. Jesus made the situation clear to His followers. He was only being arrested because it was part of that plan they did not yet understand. After telling His disciple to put away his sword, and after healing the man whose ear had been lopped off, Jesus told His followers, “Do you think I cannot call on My Father, and He will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” (Matthew 26:53,54).
Jesus certainly believed in Jesus. His Apostles came to believe in Him. The question is, who do you believe Jesus is? Who is He to you? Do you believe in Jesus like Jesus believed in Jesus? He invested His entire life into that belief. He suffered rejection and ridicule for that belief. He suffered physical torture for that belief. That, dear friend, is precisely the kind of belief that salvation requires. It is to bet your life on the facts of the Gospel. It is to be, in gambling terms, “all in.” Now, do not mistake what I just said: We do not necessarily suffer in the same ways as the Master, but we have to share the same depth of conviction about who He is. And to share that conviction about Jesus will probably bring us some type of suffering in this life.
Before Jesus died for us, He lived for us. From the womb to the tomb, Jesus “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21). That qualified Him to be the sacrifice we need – a Perfect One. And, on the cross, He made that sacrifice. To believe in Jesus, as Jesus wanted to be believed in, is to believe in His goodness and His sacrifice for our badness. The Apostle Paul, writing to the young preacher Timothy, made this statement: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners – of whom I am the worst” (1 Timothy 1:15). The “trustworthy saying” Paul wanted to convey was that “Jesus came into the world to save sinners.” We might debate Paul regarding his claim to be the “worst.” You may consider your sins far worse than Paul’s. Maybe you’re right. But the trustworthy saying is not “Jesus came to save the worst sinner;” it is He came “to save sinners!” Whether you are the worst sinner or the best sinner, you need to be saved. Thankfully, Jesus came for this very reason.
In order to be saved, you must face the first truth of the Gospel. It is “for sinners only”, for those who have failed God’s standards of right and wrong. What Jesus did on the Cross is available to all, but applicable only to the admitted and repentant sinner. Until we realize our need for salvation we cannot see our need for the Savior. The final component of the Gospel is that we receive the Christ, our Savior. There is just one catch: Jesus not only believed He was and is Savior, He believed He was and is Lord of all. So, to receive Him as Savior requires that we also receive Him as Lord. I encourage you to receive the forgiveness of the Savior, but also plan to surrender to and follow the Lord of lords. It’s a package deal. I pray you are encouraged to live in this manner – believing in Jesus as He believed in Himself. (All Scripture references in this article are from the New International Version.)
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