by Justin Ennis
My wife sent me a link to a news story/1 the other day about a man who claims to be the reincarnation of Jesus in the modern age. Of course, stories like this aren’t all that rare, but they do serve to strengthen our faith by reinforcing what the Bible has already told us. This particular story is no exception.
On the second page of the report we read that “[His message is] a pretty straightforward lesson in the fundamentals of what he believes. And it’s an upbeat, no-fault, sin-free message. This self-proclaimed Jesus does not believe in sin, hell, the devil or damnation of any kind.”
The man claiming to be Jesus is quoted in the article as saying, “Heaven doesn’t have anything to do with your behavior.” Naturally he has many followers because such a message is always appealing to so many people, and here is where we find the Bible ahead of us.
In 2 Timothy 4:3,4 Paul writes, “For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths” (ESV).
It is always encouraging to me to realize that God understands us so much better than we understand ourselves. People follow a man claiming to be Jesus and God tells us why: because he is scratching their ears. In the end it has less to do with his claim to be Jesus than with his “appeal to their passions.” Their desire to sin and be justified for it rather than in spite of it (Romans 3:23,24) has led them to find someone who will scratch their “itching ears.”
The story is an extreme example of the principle at work in all of us and which we must always guard against: that we will often deceive ourselves to obtain what we want.
It may be difficult for most of us to be so obvious about it as to follow a man claiming to be Jesus and preaching a message of indulgence, but in smaller ways each day I find that the temptation to justify following my own desires is always with me.
The Bible can be a help here, but the key is for us to submit to it; to allow God to work through the truth in its pages. In this way the Bible can be a check on our lives and a straight-edge to measure ourselves against as long as we remain open to the truth of the word and allow it to shape us into godliness rather than trying to shape it into a justifier for sin.
Justin lives with his wife and two daughters in the high desert of southern California where he enjoys hiking and bicycling. He meets with the Indian Wells Valley congregation in Ridgecrest.
People follow a man claiming to be Jesus because he scratches their ears.