SIMPLE TRUTH: Headline questions for 2013

Published 10:10 am Thursday, March 14, 2013

By Charles Christmas

In the daily news and media within our country and in all other countries on earth, there are four simple questions that are very evident and will not go away.

These questions are 20 centuries old, but are as new as every tomorrow. These questions are basic and divisive, and at the root of conflict worldwide; they have been since the coming of Jesus, and will be as long as the earth continues.

The Bible explores these four simple questions in the following, somewhat identical, passages: Matthew 16:13-27, Mark 8:27-38, Luke 9:28-26, John 1:1-5, l4 and 12:23-33.

The first question: Who was and is Jesus? The sample poll in Jesus’ day revealed that people considered him to be a great prophet. Jesus asked his disciples who they thought he was. Peter responded, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” Jesus acknowledged this to be the truth revealed to and through Peter: “Not by human insight, but by God, my father in heaven.”

Jesus immediately affirmed that upon the rock of this reality of who he was, and upon the confession of who he was, he would build his church throughout all time, and all opposition would fail to prevail against his church.

At times, Jesus refused to answer a question, but not a question as to whether or not he was the Son of God.

The Jewish council of high priests, elders and scribes asked the Roman governor for the crucifixion of Jesus because of “his blasphemy of claiming to be the Son of God.” Jesus testified that he was God’s son and Messiah before both governor and council.

Many people have been executed in other countries recently and through the years for believing and confessing that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the Living God and only Savior.

We also experience from our national government, and heavily so in the media, a critical opposition to the confessing of Jesus as the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But such is the absolute foundation of our faith and the church, and only by such faithful belief and confession does the church survive and grow.

The second question: Why did Jesus come? As soon as the disciples understood who Jesus was, he immediately told them of the absolute necessity of his coming crucifixion, his death on a Roman cross and his resurrection three days later.

The sovereign God was in the plan, purpose and details. It would become “the Son willingly laying down his life for the sins of the world” and Father God “so loving the world the he gave his one and only son that whoever believes on him would not perish but have eternal life.”

He ultimately came for the cross and the resurrection. After these were accomplished, the resurrected Christ gathered his disciples and opened their understanding: “All was the fulfillment of what was found in the law, the psalms and the prophets of the Old Testament.”

The third question: What does Jesus require of his followers? If you claim to be a follower, read slowly. He did not announce his requirements until he confirmed his journey to the cross.

He requires of all a commitment of self-denial and sacrifice: “If any person chooses to follow me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” It is a daily commitment. It is a commitment to obedience: “Follow me.” It is a commitment to be unashamed: “Whosoever shall be ashamed of me and my words in this sinful and adulterous generation; of him shall I be ashamed.” You may be impressed from the above simple requirements that your commitment to Jesus Christ needs to be revived and transformed.

The fourth question: What is the long-term guaranteed reward, pay-off and benefit of following Jesus? First, you will not be a loser in this life; it will not be a failure. It will be fruitfulness in the lives of others and in your own. You will have a special companionship with Jesus. The Father will honor you in this life (John 12:26).

Then after an abundant life here, there will be the “Well done” reception and beginning of “all things made new.” It will be worth it here, and the words of a wonderful Christian song sums it up: “It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.”

—Charles Christmas is a religion columnist for The Clanton Advertiser. His column appears each Thursday.