by J. Randal Matheny
Some years back Nestle’s Brazilian product Neston (some sort of cereal product, I think), had this advertising: “There’s a 1000 ways to prepare Neston — invent your own.”
So in my seminar on “The Jesus that Brazil Needs,” I start out by listing 10 distorted or false pictures of Jesus. Number 10 is “The Neston Jesus.”
People have a thousand ideas about who Jesus is. And if none of those strikes you, you can invent your own, so the thought goes.
People are doing it all the time. Recently, Dan Brown invented the Da Vinci Code Jesus.
Then there’s the mystic Jesus, who between his childhood and ministry beginning shuffled off to India and studied with the gurus. Just to mention two.
Paul dealt with this problem in Corinth:
“But I am afraid that just as the serpent deceived Eve by his treachery, your minds may be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus different from the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit than the one you received, or a different gospel than the one you accepted, you put up with it well enough!”
People are proclaiming a thousand different Jesuses from the one proclaimed by his apostles. They do so to lead the hearers astray. In order to have a “sincere and pure devotion to Christ,” one must have an accurate picture of who he is.
Even Jesus recognized that people had funny ideas about him. He asked his disciples what others were saying about him. Not because he was concerned about other people’s opinions, but because he wanted them to analyze popular ideas — and reject them — in order to understand properly who he was.
The only way to avoid falling for a different Jesus, or inventing our own Jesus, is to be a dedicated student of the Bible, and especially of those four stories about our Lord.
The last quarter of the year is arriving, so take this on as an exercise: the four gospels have 89 chapters, almost the number of days in a quarter. (Take off for Thanksgiving and Christmas.) Why not read one chapter each day for the last quarter of the year? In 90 days you’ll have read all four gospels.
And you’ll know the real Jesus. Instead of inventing your own.
The world offers a thousand “versions” of Jesus — or is happy to let you invent your own.
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