First sentence: There are vast numbers of portraits of Jesus in the art galleries of this world. These images are often so conflicting that they offer little help in achieving an accurate picture of what Christ looked like during the period of His incarnation. We need Christ—the real Christ. A Christ born of empty speculation or created to squeeze into the philosopher’s pattern simply won’t do. A recycled Christ, a Christ of compromise, can redeem no one. A Christ watered down, stripped of power, debased of glory, reduced to a symbol, or made impotent by scholarly surgery is not Christ but Antichrist.
Who is Jesus? is the first title in R.C. Sproul's Crucial Questions series. (Many of these titles are available as free kindle e-books on Amazon.)
It is true that it is a short book, but it isn't short on substance. There are three chapters addressing the 'crucial' question: Who is Jesus? These are "Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?," "The Titles of Jesus," and "The Life of Jesus." Sproul concisely answers the question and invites readers to believe that Jesus is the Son of God.
One point that he definitely emphasizes is that Jesus cannot be found outside of the Word of God. He writes, "To search behind or beyond the New Testament is to go on a snipe hunt equipped with the flashlights of pride and prejudice." He warns, "The Christ we believe, the Christ we trust, must be true if we are to be redeemed. A false Christ or a substitute Christ cannot redeem." He concludes, "Apart from the Bible, we know nothing of consequence concerning the real Jesus. Ultimately our faith stands or falls with the biblical Jesus."
I loved Sproul's writing style.
- The temptation of Christ offers a striking parallel to the probation of Adam in the Garden of Eden. We note both similarities and differences between the first Adam of Genesis and the one whom the New Testament calls the second Adam, Jesus. Both were tested not only for their own sakes but on behalf of others. Jesus endured temptation in isolation, in what Søren Kierkegaard called the worst situation of human anxiety, existential solitude. Jesus was utterly alone. Adam was tested while enjoying the help and encouragement of a companion whom God had created for him. Adam was tested in the midst of human fellowship, indeed intimacy. However, Jesus was tested in the agony of deprivation of human communion. Adam was tested in the midst of a feast. His locale was a gourmet’s dream. He faced Satan on a full stomach and with a satiated appetite. Yet he succumbed to the temptation to indulge himself with one more morsel of food. Jesus was tested after a forty-day fast, when every fiber of His body was screaming for food. His hunger had reached a crescendo, and it was at the moment of consuming physical desire that Satan came with the temptation to break the fast. It is the similarity, however, between the tests that is most important for us to grasp. The central issue, the point of attack, was the same. In neither case was the ultimate issue a matter of food; the issue was the question of believing God. It was not an issue of believing in God, but believing God. There was no doubt in Adam’s mind that God existed; he had spent time in face-to-face communication with Him. Jesus was equally certain of God’s existence. The trial centered on believing God when it counted.
- Jesus believed God, so Satan departed from Him. Where Adam collapsed, Jesus conquered. Where Adam compromised, Jesus refused to negotiate. Where Adam’s trust in God faltered, Jesus’ never wavered. The second Adam triumphed for Himself and for us. One parallel remains to be noted. At the end of Jesus’ trial, angels appeared to minister to Him, precisely as the Father had promised. Adam saw an angel too. His angel was carrying a flaming sword as he stood guard at the gates of paradise. That sword banished Adam to live east of Eden.
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible