As we celebrate Christmas this year, we must understand that we are not at liberty to create a Jesus Christ to our own liking. This is because there is a real Jesus Christ and He is not to be trifled with. The trivialization of God in our culture is significant. God’s glory is at the center of our universe. The God who has revealed Himself to us in creation and in His Scriptures is holy and awesome. He is the living and true God. There is nothing and no one to compare Him to. He is glorious and great. He is worthy to be worshipped. He is infinite and incomprehensible in His fullness. He exists in three persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. He is to be known and worshipped for in Him alone can human beings find their satisfaction and joy and peace. We must not trivialize the second person of the Tri-une God—Jesus Christ. We are not at liberty to create a Jesus of our own liking!
Yet many do. There is the “sentimental” Jesus who comes to make us feel warm and happy inside, particularly about ourselves. He comes to make wishes come true—the Jesus not unlike some of the magic people we might find in Disneyworld; the Jesus who brings the kind of sentimentalism we might find on a nice Hallmark card. But the real Jesus comes to bring us truth—some of which is not pleasant for human ears. The real Jesus teaches that human beings are fallen and have sinful hearts. In Mark’s gospel, the real Jesus says: “For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” The “sentimental” Jesus doesn’t speak like this but the real Jesus does.
Then there is the “this is your best life now” Jesus who comes to make you successful—comes to give you health and wealth and prosperity if you will let Him be your life coach. This Jesus helps you get that job promotion and helps you make that smart investment and helps you win friends and influence people. This Jesus fits right in with the American Dream. But the real Jesus says to His followers that they are to live for His coming Kingdom. Of this life, He says to His followers in the gospel of John: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you.” And in another place in John’s gospel: “I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” The “this is you best life now” Jesus doesn’t speak like this but the real Jesus does.
There is also the “fixer-upper” Jesus who comes to resolve all of your problems in this life. If your kids are sick, He makes them well, guaranteed. If your marriage is broke, he will make it all better. If you’re disappointed about something, he will turn it all around for you. He is like having your own personal handyman for all of your life’s problems. Like a cosmic genie, He is there at your beck and call. But the real Jesus answers the apostle Paul’s prayer for deliverance from what was probably a serious physical problem with a “no” telling Paul that Paul will have to trust in His sufficient grace. The real Jesus does not promise that He will fix everything in this life and asks for His followers to trust Him.
So let’s talk about the real Jesus now. Though he doesn’t come to you as a therapeutic counselor to always make you warm and cozy with yourself; and though He doesn’t come so that you might live your best life now with health and wealth and prosperity; and though he doesn’t come to fix up every temporal problem you may encounter in life; He does come to do something much better!! Something with eternal value! He comes to show God’s love, mercy, and grace to sinners. He comes to save us from our sins. He comes to rescue us from God’s just eternal condemnation and bring us to God that we might know the living and true God and enjoy being in His presence forever! He does this by sacrificing Himself on the cross. He offers Himself up as the lamb of God, bearing, as it were, the very wrath of God that sinners deserve. His love is sacrificial; His grace is amazing; He offers us eternal life by taking upon Himself our deserving death. As Romans 4:25 says: “He was delivered up for our trespasses” and as Romans 5:8 says: “God showed his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
So, it is true that He came to die in the sinners place—and, as he said Himself, He came to call sinners to repentance! And the story doesn’t stop at His crucifixion because on the third day, He rose again showing His triumph over sin and death and Satan. This is the real Jesus. He is alive! He ascended into heaven; He is coming again to judge the living and the dead. He will make a new heaven and earth and His kingdom will never end! Those who repent of their sins and trust in Him alone are reconciled to God and have life everlasting. Those who do not, will spend eternity apart from God in a miserable existence the Bible calls hell.
The Scriptures tell us in John 1:12 “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God.” And the real Jesus said in John 5:24 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.” He will ultimately fix things up completely for those who trust Him. And He will bring in one’s best life eternally. And He will make us feel wonderful on the inside as we find our satisfaction and peace and joy in Him and not ourselves. The real Jesus is Christ the Lord and the proper response is that human beings come and adore Him! This Christmas season, all of us should ask the question: “Am I trusting in the real Jesus?”