WHICH JESUS WILL YOU CELEBRATE THIS CHRISTMAS?
Which Jesus will you celebrate this Christmas? the Real Jesus? or, an Imaginary Jesus?
I can’t tell you how many people I’ve met over the years who said they celebrated Christmas for years having no idea they got Jesus all wrong. Let me give you some examples:
- A lot of people say Jesus was woke because he cared for the oppressed.
- Others say Jesus was a socialist at heart because he cared for the poor.
- Others say, Jesus never claimed to be God.
There are a lot of differing views of Jesus. Some of them are true. Some of them are imaginary.
So, since it’s Christmas (when we celebrate the BIRTH of Jesus) let’s talk about who the real Jesus is, and who the imaginary Jesus is — and WHY it matters to you.
WAS JESUS WOKE?
So, let’s start with the question: Was Jesus Woke? Ibram X. Kendi (who was, and is, a poster boy for wokeness) wrote in his book How to be an Anti-racist, “The only remedy to past discrimination is present discrimination. The only remedy to present discrimination is future discrimination.”
In other words, “Discriminate against those who discriminated against you.” Do unto others as they have DONE unto you.
On the other hand, Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
I think Jesus would have been much more like Martin Luther King who said, “Darkness cannot cast out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot cast out hate, only love can do that.” I think Martin Luther King and Jesus would respond to Kendi, “Discrimination cannot cast out discrimination, only reconciliation can do that.”
So, although Jesus cared deeply for the oppressed, it is clear that if you think Jesus was woke, then you believe in an Imaginary Jesus. Because Jesus said, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
What about socialism? Would Jesus be a socialist today since he cares deeply about the poor, as do many socialists?
Here is why this question matters:
If Jesus supports socialism, then every Capitalist is on the wrong side. If Jesus opposes socialism, then every Progressive is on the wrong side. One or the other will be celebrating an Imaginary Jesus this Christmas.
It turns out that the answer to this question is really quite straightforward.
As I unpack the answer, remember that socialism PROHIBITS the private ownership of land.
Matthew 5:17-18: Jesus said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets [OldTestament]; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law….”
Stay with me. I’m sure you’re asking, “What does that have to do with socialism?” I am about to show you why this statement conclusively proves Jesus can’t be a socialist.
I want to quickly read you some verses from the Old Testament (the LAW Jesus referred to):
Deuteronomy 19:14: “You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary stone….”
- That is, don’t steal your neighbor’s property.
Deuteronomy 27:17: “Cursed is he who moves his neighbor’s boundary mark.”
- Cursed by whom? By God.
Proverbs 22:28: “Do not move the ancient boundary which your father’s have set.”
Proverbs 23:10: “Do not move the ancient boundary….”
- In other words: Don’t take your neighbor’s property. If you do, God will curse you.
But it goes even DEEPER than that:
Exodus 20:17: “You shall not COVET your neighbor’s house.”
- Not only are you not to take your neighbor’s property, but you’re also not even to wish you could have it.
And that’s not just one of many Laws in the Old Testament. That’s one of the Big 10 — one of The 10 Commandments.
You say, Brad that clearly applies to individuals, but does it apply to government?
Good question. Glad you asked.
In 1 Kings 21: the prophet Elijah condemned the king of Israel [the head of the government] for taking Naboth’s vineyard. God’s penalty for Ahab? Dog’s would lick up his blood.
Hosea 5:10: “The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark [those who take another person’s property]; I will pour out My WRATH on them like water.”
Both of those passages refer to government, not average people. There are many more Old Testament passages that advocate private ownership of property.
But don’t believe me. Go read your Bible for yourself. It’s all there in black and white. The Old Testament Law, which Jesus said would not pass away, FIERCELY protects private property.
So, based on Jesus’ words is it possible that he could be a socialist?
NOT ON YOUR LIFE!
Did you notice I didn’t actually say “No?” But you knew exactly what I meant, right?
I point this out for a specific reason, because in the next segment I am going to refer back to this comment. Don’t forget it.
But let’s summarize before we move on, it is clear that if you believe Jesus is socialist, you will be celebrating an Imaginary Jesus this Christmas.
Final question: Did Jesus actually ever claim to be God?
This question is far more important than: was Jesus Woke? or, was Jesus a Socialist?
Many people actually say Jesus never claimed to be God. Are they right?
Mormons believe he was a MAN like us, not actually God. The Koran teaches he was a great PROPHET like Mohammed, but not God. Many religious folks, like Unitarians, believe he was a great TEACHER, but not God. Others think he was simply a NUTCASE who actually believed he was God? That was HIS TRUTH.
But what did Jesus actually claim? Did he ever say the words, “I am God?” The answer is NO.
But that is far different than asking: Did Jesus ever claim to be God?
Remember in the last segment I finished by saying “NOT ON YOUR LIFE?” You knew I meant “NO” in an emphatic way, even though I never said the word, “No.”
There are a number of passages in the Bible where Jesus certainly seems to assume the mantle deity,
But in John 8:58-59: Jesus uttered an in-your-face response, so that there would be absolutely no doubt in the minds of his listeners what he was saying.
John 8:58-59: “Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So, they picked up stones to throw at him….”
In 1st Century Jewish culture, Jesus’ statement was a crystal clear and emphatic claim to be God.
Unless Jesus misspoke, there is only one reason why he would have said, “I AM,” rather than “I was.” “I AM” is grammatically odious, unless Jesus was overtly claiming deity.
When a Jew of that day heard the term “I AM,” they would immediately think of Exodus 3:14 in the Old Testament. In Exodus 3:14 God was talking to Moses, He said, “I AM Who I AM.” "Say this to the people of Israel, “I AM has sent me to you. “
In the book of Exodus, God names himself “I AM.”
If Jesus had said “I AM” mistakenly is there any doubt in your mind that when they picked up stones to kill him, he would have immediately said, “Sorry guys, that came out wrong. That is not what I meant.” But he never backtracked, he never clarified. So he clearly SAID what he MEANT to say.
He was saying, “Yes, I am God” in the most emphatic terms possible.
Think of it this way, if you accused me of stealing, I could respond by saying, “I did not!” or I could respond, “Like Hell I did!” Which is the more emphatic denial? The one where I said, “I did not!,” or the one where I use the word “Hell,” but never actually said the words, “I did not!”
Would there be any doubt in your mind as to what I meant?
Sorry about misusing the word “Hell,” but I do not want you to miss that Jesus was responding in the most forceful manner possible.
It’s crystal clear his audience understood him to be unequivocally claiming to be God because of their response. “They picked up stones….”
And it’s crystal clear what Jesus meant, because grammatically his statement makes no sense unless he was applying the name of God to himself, and then because he didn’t try to retract his words when they tried to kill him for what he said.
He was claiming to be God using the most in-your-face verbiage possible.
But don’t believe me, go ask any Orthodox Jew even today how they would have interpreted Jesus’ words. They will tell you there can be no doubt he was claiming to be God—with a SLEDGEHAMMER.
So, did Jesus claim to be God? Absolutely! Again, please notice is did not say the word, “Yes,” but you understood exactly what I meant.
You may not believe Jesus is God, but he undeniably claimed to be God in the MOST compelling manner possible.
So, if you think Jesus never claimed to be God, then, this Christmas you are celebrating an imaginary Jesus.
WHY DOES IT MATTER?
This Christmas, you can celebrate the real Jesus or an Imaginary Jesus? An Imaginary Jesus who always agrees with you, or the real Jesus who says “Follow me.” You can celebrate the historical Jesus, or a Jesus who doesn’t really exist outside your head? A fairytale, if you will. You can either take Jesus at his word —or not.
Jesus did not come to earth to make you feel better about yourself. He came to change you at the fundamental level. If you don’t want to change, then I strongly suggest you hold on to your Imaginary Jesus. But if you want to know the Jesus of Christmas, you have to be willing to let him change you.
Don’t think you can change yourself. You can’t. I know, I tried for years.
This Christmas, you can celebrate the real Jesus. It begins by admitting you are imperfect (we all are), that he is God (as he claimed), and that you are willing to follow Him. If you do that, you can begin the exciting adventure this Christmas Season, that God uniquely created you for.
Which Jesus will you celebrate this Christmas? The Jesus of your Imagination? Or, the Jesus who said, “I AM the light of the world?” (John 8:12)
God IS the issue—in every issue. Especially Christmas.
This is Brad Bright. Thanks for joining me today. Please remember to like, subscribe or share this podcast if you found it helpful or encouraging.