Why do many people have no problem with “God” but all kinds of anxiety over the Name “Jesus?” I think we can all attest that bringing Jesus’ Name into any conversation is a crossroads of sorts. Either the other person will suddently act like he’s in a burning building seeking the nearest possible emergency exit or their hearts will be opened to the gracious compassion of our Father in the face of His Son.
Jesus is the dividing line of humanity. And here’s why:
The idea of “God” can be whatever I want or need him to be. But Jesus is who He is as scriptures reveal God to be.
The general idea of “God” can be under my domain and my control (at least my idea of “god”). God could be anything from an “inner voice” to a “creating agent” to a “higher power” or to a “personal friend when I’m in trouble.” This vague idea of God “within” can agree with me as I wish him to, judges me when I allow him to and put up with me in the way I expect him to. In fact, this idea of God can be a woman or an it or nothing but a wisp. THIS is why many people can readily continue a conversation with “God” mentioned.
Why people scowl at the Name Jesus is because esus is not subjective reality, He is objective fact. He came, He lived, He walked, He taught, He was male, He touched people, He asked for total allegiance, He divided history, and He said, “I and the Father are one”. When you bring up Jesus you bring to the conversation a clear reality of what God is like. Jesus cannot be someone other than what He is. He had standards you cannot adjust because He taught constantly “with authority” (Matthew 7:29). He took aim at issues sensitive to many. His preaching made Him loved or hated, worshipped and crucified (of course all that in cooperation with Divine foreknowledge).
He had certifiable standards. You want to know what Jesus thinks marriage should be? Read Matthew 19. You want to know what Jesus thinks about forgiveness? Read Matthew 18. You want to know what Jesus thinks about hypocrisy, greed, self-indulgence, sexual immorality? Read Matthew 5-7. You can find what Jesus says. It’s clear, written down, and has been passed down for centuries.
Jesus is not vague. Jesus cannot be adjusted without serious departures from the historically reliable texts of the New Testament. You cannot repaint Jesus to be something that is less invasive to your own sensibilities or secret sins. Jesus will love you and frustrate you more than any one else ever will. Why? Because He came to us, He moved in to our neighborhood, claimed to be God, and embodied the Truth.
This is why the Name Jesus makes so many people uncomfortable. He cannot be controlled or corralled like the vague mention of God as “higher power” or “helpful friend” that many Americans seek to make Him.
At some point in our lives, we have to make our choice when it comes to Jesus. Before He told His disciples about the cross, He asked them who they said He was. Why? Because they needed to confess Him before He would let them in about the ultimate plan of the Father from the foundations of the world – His suffering subsitutionary sacrifice for our sins.
The next time Jesus makes a conversation uncomfortable, remember the reason. We cannot subjectively define Jesus the way many do with “God”. And that’s even more reason why I believe He is God, He is Lord, He is King.
Amen, Lord Jesus.