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What Jesus said | What Jesus did

Two-thousand years ago, Jesus was born and raised and worked (as a carpenter) among the people of a small country that we now call Israel. When he was about thirty years old, he began travelling around that country with a band of followers. He taught many things to his disciples and to the crowds that followed him. But he didn't just teach. He did many things no one had ever seen before. I've collected a handful passages from the Bible of what he has said and done (these links will take you there).

The people of that country, Israel, believed that there was only one God. They believed that this one God always existed and always will. According to them, He knows all things, has all power, is perfectly good, and that there is no other god besides Him. They also believed that everything that exists was created by and continues to exist because of Him. Jesus taught the very same things about God, but as you will see, he taught something more that shocked every one of them.

Good and Evil

These people also believed that every human being understood the difference between what is good and what is evil. The one and only God who made everything that exists also gave each person this knowledge of right and wrong. To steal, to lie, to cheat, to murder, to have another man’s wife, to return evil for good was wrong. But to respect our elders, to care for the poor, to pay back what we owe, to keep our promises, to honor justice was right.

Jesus taught the same, but he said something harder. He said that to hold even a thought of murder against someone was, in God’s eyes, the same as murder. Having even a thought of lust towards a woman was, for God, the same as sleeping with her. He said that we should not even be making promises. Our character should be such that a simple “yes” or “no” from our mouths should be enough for people to believe us. He taught that we should forgive those who harm us and love those who hate us. In short, he taught that we should be perfect just as God is perfect. No one had heard anything like that before. But it wasn't this teaching that led to his death. It was something shocking.

His Identity

Jesus said something about himself that no one else had ever said. Jesus claimed that he himself, a man who looked no different than any other, was the one and only God above all that exists, the only Being that has always existed and always will. He said that he had come into the world to save it from the power and eternal consequences of our sin. God was giving the world one last chance. Jesus explained that his death would be the only possible way for any human being to come back to God. Of course, many people didn’t believe him. To them, he said he would show them one last sign to prove that what he said about himself was true. He promised that on the third day after he would allow himself to be tortured and killed, he would return to life.

Effortless Power

Those who followed Jesus saw him heal every person who came to him with every disease and sickness. They saw him cast out evil spirits with a word. They saw him raise dead people to life with a word. They saw him effortlessly calm a violent storm in a moment. All of them were there when he twice multiplied a handful of food to satisfy the hunger of thousands. They were terrified seeing him walk on water. They saw him do all these things, and many more, with their own eyes. It was as if he was presenting those who chose to follow him with evidence to prove that everything he said about himself was true.

Friday, Saturday, and Sunday

And then the dark night came after three years of being with Jesus. To their shock and horror, his followers saw him arrested by those who didn’t believe him. His enemies were convinced that no one who said the things Jesus said should be allowed to live. The following day, Friday, he was brutally beaten, tortured, and nailed to a wooden cross. His followers were astonished seeing him forgive those who were killing him, and then, die. In one moment, all their hopes were destroyed. That evening, they buried Jesus in a tomb.

But then it happened. Saturday had gone by. Now it was early morning on Sunday, the third day. Through their tear-stained eyes, they saw him alive. Exactly as he had said, he had come back to life and the tomb was empty and he had come to them. He talked with them and ate with them just as before. They were amazed as they touched him, feeling the scars on his hands and feet and side. He was no ghost. He was real and alive and with them. Jesus then showed them that all of this was a part of a great plan to lead all people back to God. He told them he was returning to heaven. But he would send his own Spirit to them to work in and through them to finish what he had started. He taught them many other things. And then, many days later, they gathered on a hill, and saw him rise into the sky, promising to return in just the same way.

We know that all, except one, of his closest followers who saw him alive on that third day, and for many days after, were cruelly beaten and killed because they refused to deny what they saw. The one who wasn’t killed was exiled to an island prison until he died.

The Narrow Road

All of them taught this message: Jesus is God who became a man to bring all people back to God. The way back to Him involves this very narrow road: The first step is understanding and accepting the fact that we are exactly what God says we are- utterly soaked with the guilt and consequences of our sin. By revealing the heart of the Law, Jesus showed us that "there is not a righteous man on earth who does good and who never sins." "All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God."*

The second is trusting that through Jesus’ death and resurrection, God has completely forgiven us and has declared us perfect in His eyes. By our faith in His death and resurrection, He looks at us as if we had never done anything wrong, because He took our sin upon Himself. This is the gift God is offering you: a brand new life. The Bible says, "All...are declared righteous freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented him as a sacrifice that turns aside His wrath, through faith in his blood."**

The third step is the natural result of the last (and if you understand the depth of His love and how much you have been forgiven, you will know that it is the deepest joy of human existence). God went through unutterable pain that you would never have to. The King has paid a very high price to save rebels like you and I. God has done this in order that we might become like Jesus. It is to empty your heart of all things that claim to be king, all gods, all things precious and valuable, and place Jesus as absolute King on the throne of your heart and life. It is to say to him, “whatever the cost to me, your will be done. You are my King.”

Jesus is coming soon and when he returns, He will judge the world. You will stand before Him and give Him an account of your life. He said, “I am the way and the truth and the life.” There is no other way to the one true and living God except through Him. None. There is nothing more important than knowing him. The truth is that Jesus knows every single thing about you. Nothing is hidden from Him. He sees you at this very moment, reading this. He knows all about your past, everything you have ever said and thought and done- every good thing and every shameful thing you wish no one knew about. And He still passionately loves you. God loves you more than you can ever imagine. And he proved it by giving his own life for you. And right now, he wants you to come to him, to put your faith in Who He is and in what He has done. He wants you to trust Him with your entire life.

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* Ecclesiastes 7.20, Romans 3.23
** Romans 3.24-25

What Jesus said | What Jesus did

Pradeep Rendall  | June 30 2013
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