Why Jesus? Part One

“Jesus was not born just to die; He was born to give life. He wasn’t brought up to be the ultimate temple sacrifice. God doesn’t do human sacrifice; He’s not Molech. God is, and always has been, a good Father.” I said this in my post series, “Why The Incarnation Matters – Part One.”

This is why we need to know why Christmas: why God became flesh and dwelt among us. 

I’m not trying to minimize that Jesus did come to take our sins away. I’m trying to point out that this was a means to a greater and more glorious end. And if we miss this, we will miss something truly wonderful in the Christmas story. As Richard Rohr points out:

“If you believe that the Son’s task is merely to solve some cosmic problem the Father has with humanity, that the Son’s job is to do that, then once the problem is solved, there’s apparently no need for the concrete imitation of Jesus or his history-changing teachings. Yes, we continue to thank him for solving this problem, but we’ve lost the basis for an ongoing communion, a constant love affair, not to mention the wariness we now have about the Father and the lack of an active need for a dynamic Holy Spirit.” (Rohr, “The Divine Dance: The Trinity and Your Transformation,” Kindle loc. 3423)

The line, “not to mention the wariness we now have about the Father” was a very subtle but real aspect of my personal relationship with God for over 20 years, which is why I started this blog and wrote my book. The theology I was taught essentially created a cognitive dissonance for me, pitting God against Himself. An “angry Father” and a graceful, loving Jesus. A Father who could not forgive unless He killed His own Son. I wrote about what I considered a dysfunctional view of God in “Our Father is Not Molech.”

Like everyone else I knew, I celebrated “baby Jesus” on Christmas, then the next thing I celebrated was His death, burial, and resurrection at Easter. But what about His life? Again, from my post, “Why the Incarnation Matters”:

When we start our gospel message with Adam’s fall and our sin, the focus is on forgiveness rather than adoption. The result is devastating to our identity. We see ourselves as no more than pardoned criminals instead of beloved sons and daughters. We’re left with a Christianity that’s not much more than getting saved from hell and waiting for heaven when we die.

So, if we’re missing the main point, then why did Jesus come? In this series I will cover what I consider critical reasons for “why Jesus.” Here’s the first reason.

So we could know God as He actually is

1No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known. (John 1:18 *)

27 “All things have been committed to me by my Father. No one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him. (Matt.11:27 *)

Think about what these verses are telling us. They’re saying no one knew God before Jesus, and the only way we’re going to know Him is if Jesus reveals Him to us. This includes Adam, Abraham, Moses, David…no one!

This doesn’t mean they didn’t have a relationship with God; it means that they didn’t truly know Him. They had prophetic inklings, encounters, and revelation, but it wasn’t until Jesus appeared on the human scene did we ever really know what God is actually like.

Bill Johnson said it succinctly: “Jesus Christ is perfect theology.” Whatever is like Jesus is like God; whatever is not like Jesus is not like God…and it doesn’t matter who said it. This includes the Old Testament. This is why we cannot read the Bible rightly when we read it as if Jesus never happened.

Some translations of John 1:18 say that Jesus is in the “bosom of the Father.” What this means is that the eternal Christ, God the Son, proceeds from the innermost being of the Father. More about that here. He came from the divine essence of God.

After all, how could we know God? God is Spirit (John 4:24); while He intimately interacts with our physical world, He’s not a physical being. There is no way for us to know God’s true, unchangeable, immutable essence; we only know the divine energies of God.

Yet, from the beginning, humankind has intuited a transcendent creator–God–but from afar, and they expressed their experience with God in sacred writings.  Notice how Paul addresses their religious understanding of God with the Athenian philosophers:

24 “The God who made the world and everything in it is the Lord of heaven and earth and does not live in temples built by human hands. 25 And he is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else. 26 From one man he made all the nations, that they should inhabit the whole earth; and he marked out their appointed times in history and the boundaries of their lands. 27 God did this so that they would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from any one of us. 28 ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’ (Acts 17:24-28 *)

Paul said God revealed Himself to them as we see in verse 28: ‘For in him we live and move and have our being.’ As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.’”

But the point is, they didn’t know this God they were intuiting. While these writings may have been inspired, it doesn’t follow that they had accurate knowledge of God Himself. And Paul told the Athenians that God overlooked their ignorance…until Christ:

God overlooks it as long as you don’t know any better—but that time is past. The unknown is now known, and he’s calling for a radical life-change. He has set a day when the entire human race will be judged and everything set right. And he has already appointed the judge, confirming him before everyone by raising him from the dead.” (Acts 17:30-31 MSG *)

The advent of Christ changed everything about knowing God. This is why I believe Robert Capon was correct when he said “Christianity is not a religion; it is the announcement of the end of religion.”

We will look at another reason for Jesus next time.

* New International Version (NIV) Bible translation unless otherwise noted. All emphasis added.
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About Mel Wild

God's favorite (and so are you), a son and a father, happily married to the same beautiful woman for 37 years. We have three incredible adult children. My passion is pursuing the Father's heart in Christ and giving it away to others. My favorite pastime is being iconoclastic and trailblazing the depths of God's grace. I'm also senior pastor of Cornerstone Church in Wisconsin.
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18 Responses to Why Jesus? Part One

  1. John Branyan says:

    Thanks for this. I hadn’t thought about the other aspect of “Jesus came to die”. I appreciate your perspective.

  2. This is wonderful,Mel.

    While I do believe “Jesus fixed everything,” so to speak, God always invites us into personal responsibility and restoration. You see this all through the bible, Eve is deceived, but Mary gives birth to our Savior. Adam kind of fails to stand up,but Joseph takes responsibility for a woman and a child that aren’t really even his. Peter denies Christ 3 times and yet “Peter do you love me,” restores him 3 times in perfect measure once again. So we participate in this business of restoration and relationship, Jesus of course having already done the heavy lifting on our behalf.

    We are not pardoned criminals,we really are sons and daughters. He came to give us life and life abundant, to get a bit of heaven into us,not just to get us into heaven.

    • Mel Wild says:

      “While I do believe “Jesus fixed everything,” so to speak, God always invites us into personal responsibility and restoration.”

      Amen. Jesus fixed everything between us and God and now invites us into His life. I love the restorative aspect of Jesus, as you mentioned.

  3. Argus says:

    In a small town close to where I live there’s a concreting firm that’s made a permanent Nativity scene; closed most of the year but opened and illuminated every Christmas (oops, forgive me, if you’re American I meant every ‘Holidays’).

    As a devout atheist I admit that I do love it; and later if I remember I’ll get a snap of it and post on my blog—my only complaint is that when they refurbished it a couple of years ago they removed the (rather ratty and tatty looking) donkey.

    I miss my little donkey—no Nativity scene would be complete without one.

  4. Mel,

    I just have to share with you WHY it makes it so so very difficult to take “proclaimed Christians” serious and honestly makes it nauseating this holiday season. Internet Christians, in particular, can be some of the most rudest, bullying, disrespectful bunch toward those who are (very?) different than them. This particular bunch are quite hateful and elitist. Fyi. Here’s the link to their “Christian(?)” blogs and comments (from their blog personalities too):

    https://thenakedtruth2.wordpress.com/2017/12/16/oh-yeah-the-total-depravity-of-christianity/

    Why Jesus? One certainly has a very hard time finding him in his Church, if at all with this bunch. And sadly THEY are only a tiny sampling of “(poor? hypocritical?) witnesses for Christ.” 😦 😔

    Have a great holidays and Happy New Year Mel.

    • Mel Wild says:

      I certainly understand what you’re trying to say. And I agree, too often we haven’t done a good job at representing Christ. That’s something I’ve written about here. While Jesus did confront He wasn’t mean-spirited.

      Of course, saying one is a “Christian” doesn’t always mean someone is actually following Christ. But even for someone who is following Christ, it’s too easy on the Internet (or any social media) to become rude or say things you would never say in person. That’s the problem with this form of communication.

      Even the best of us can say things that aren’t respectful when we get frustrated or angry. We need to get better at being respectful while disagreeing, even if the other person isn’t being respectful.

      You have a great holidays and Happy New Year also.

      • John Branyan says:

        Proclaiming Christ is guaranteed to upset people. That promise comes from Jesus himself. Certainly some Christians are more obnoxious than others. That’s true of atheists as well.

        Critical thinkers analyze ideas separately from the perceived character of the proclaimer. Dismissing Christianity because you know some mean Christians is foolish. It’s like giving up your driver’s license because you got honked at on the freeway.

        Taboo hasn’t got a rational thought in his head. His theology is an intricate framework of contradiction. When he passes judgment on the behavior of Christians it’s hilarious.

      • Mel Wild says:

        Yes, the mean-spirited disrespect definitely goes both ways, John. Some of the worst has come my way from angry combative anti-theists. And people who arrogantly mock Christians and call our beliefs superstitious nonsense and the like shouldn’t have thin skin when there’s pushback. Jesus Himself called those who were trying keep people away from Him a brood of vipers and whitewashed tombs. But He wasn’t mean-spirited about it. He was calling them out on their hypocrisy and subterfuge.

        My goal is to be respectful with people I disagree with. But that doesn’t mean I won’t call a spade a spade.

      • Mel,

        Aside from any and all human vices and personal emotions and opinions — yes, found in many Christians and non-Christians, obviously it’s a HUMAN condition — the compelling and overwhelming data/evidence, sources, and the lack of it in specific areas, especially independent, speaks for itself loud and clear. The real issue, when it IS a human condition, is the fear and/or courage to be and have a high degree of impartiality. From a psychological standpoint many humans do indeed choose to bury their proverbial osterich-head in the sand and leave it there and do so for various personal and familial reasons, rarely on any basis of tangible proveable truths. Travel and live amongst a multitude of cultures around the globe and one finds this to be prevalent — a human condition.

        Nevertheless, determining whether a spade is calling another spade a spade (LOL) is irrelevent, empty — the non-human historical record(s) and data/evidence stand alone and apart from human vices or virtues of any creed. To borrow a familiar apropos biblical passage I’ve modified into a better Heraclitus usage/truth:

        All people are like grass,
        and all their faithfulness is like the flowers of the field.
        The grass withers and the flowers fall,
        because change is permanent throughout all the Cosmos.
        Surely people are like grass.
        The grass withers and the flowers fall,
        but the forces of Nature endure forever.

        In the end, it doesn’t matter in the least what you personally believe, what I personally believe, nor any of the “arrogant spades” believe and boast, the WIDER the mind, the WIDER the human experience in life, on this planet or beyond in stoic humility… the more truth is found. It is not found in human-constructed “closed systems.”

        Have a safe and enjoyable holidays Mel.

      • Mel Wild says:

        In the end, it doesn’t matter in the least what you personally believe, what I personally believe, nor any of the “arrogant spades” believe and boast, the WIDER the mind, the WIDER the human experience in life, on this planet or beyond in stoic humility… the more truth is found. It is not found in human-constructed “closed systems.”

        I agree and don’t agree with some of what you said, Professor Taboo. I think it does matter a great deal what we believe. While we don’t have to agree on particulars, our paradigm greatly affects how we see and treat other people, but I do agree that these paradigms can also become a closed box that closes communication and growth as human beings. Ronald Timothy said something insightful on this:

        “Paradigms can be so strong they act as psychological filters – we quite literally see the world through our paradigms. Any data that exists in the real world (or even in the Bible) that does not fit our paradigm will have a difficult time getting through our filters. We are quite literally unable to perceive the facts right before our eyes. Thus, our greatest strengths can become our greatest weakness by not allowing us to see both the need and the opportunity for change. The people who create new paradigms are usually outsiders. They are not part of the established paradigm community.”

        If we don’t realize this about ourselves, we literally don’t hear people who may disagree with us. We stay stuck where we are while society moves on. So, I agree we shouldn’t have a closed system that doesn’t hear other voices in community, like in the sciences, philosophy, and religion. But I also think it’s a very narrow-minded and closed system to believe that the natural world is all there is. That is an Epicurean “box” I don’t believe in. Anyway, happy holidays to you as well.

      • In general terms (with small exceptions 😉 ) what you say applies to absolutely anybody and everybody. THAT I agree with.

    • Citizen Tom says:

      @Professor Taboo

      If you want to insult me, I don’t care, but the other folks at The Lions Den certainly didn’t mistreat you. And what did I do? Instead of using what you called your “given name”, I called you “Doctor of Don’t Do It.”

      Frankly, you went over to The Lions Den to do your own tormenting, and it backfired. Yet at the very worst, you just got a bit of teasing. So you unload this crock of bull on Mel? Even our president does not get the obsequious respect you are demanding.

      John Branyan certainly is not fooled, and I don’t think Mel wants to take sides. However, I suppose you are happy. After you have demonstrated so little of your own, here you are debating the moral integrity of Christians.

      Here is the problem with that. Mel has something to defend, his belief in Jesus. You just boasted of have nothing to defend. You can attack what Mel is defending until Dooms Day, but Jesus will still be there. So there is nothing you can do to reduce the moral standards of Christians so that they are at the same level as your own. You don’t have any fixed standards.

      Will Christians always live up to the moral standards God has given us? No, but that does not mean we don’t have those standards or that we will stop trying to live up to them.

      • CT, if you notice in my comment(s) to Mel here, I was talking in GENERAL terms about internet Fundamentalist Christians, especially the hyper-arrogant and who ridiculously prejudge strangers and have little to no common courtesy and etiquette on their blogs. I think you are over-reacting here. I did not specifically name you here.

        However, for the sake of my honesty and forthrightness, you were not particularly welcoming to me the first time on your blog and in a matter of a few comments jumped onboard with the same internet Fundamentalist (bullying) Christians I’m referring to… who also have no clue with regards to Christ-like humility and common decency to strangers. Here Mel has a better grasp of what that means — I will acknowledge that. Thus, the reason for my general comment here. If you feel this was directed specifically to you, then there is a self-perceived reason for that. Some serious introspection might be in order.

        Enjoy your holidays and have a safe New Year’s. 🙂

      • Citizen Tom says:

        @Professor Taboo

        Am I imperfect? No. Do I feel guilty about it? Sometimes. Because of how I welcomed you on my blog? No.

        When I debate people on my blog or elsewhere, I do my best to state my case frankly without insulting anyone personally. I don’t attack the character of people. However, I do take issue with their arguments.

        Since you chosen to debate the character of people, not a political or theological concept, you are attacking the character of others. So I have just pointed out you lack the standing to make such an argument.

        When we are swimming in the sea and we see sharks, we become alarmed. Dolphins and porpoises, however, cause little consternation. Similarly, when a militant Atheist visits a Christian blog, he will be regarded with the same circumspection one would regard a shark. Whereas a another Christian will be more readily welcomed.

        You don’t like that? Well, that’s life in the big city.

        Here is how President Truman put it.

        If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

        Orderly debate requires that we follow certain rules. You want to follow those rules? That’s good, but no one is required to agree with you, and no one is require to pretend that they respect what you believe. What decency requires is that we respect your person and your rights as another human being. That they do at The Lions Den, and I strive for the same on my own blog.

      • Citizen Tom says:

        Well, I messed up the format on that one. Here is how it should have looked.

        @Professor Taboo

        Am I imperfect? No. Do I feel guilty about it? Sometimes. Because of how I welcomed you on my blog? No.

        When I debate people on my blog or elsewhere, I do my best to state my case frankly without insulting anyone personally. I don’t attack the character of people. However, I do take issue with their arguments.

        Since you have chosen to debate the character of people, not a political or theological concept, you are attacking the character of others. So I have just pointed out you lack the standing to make such an argument.

        When we are swimming in the sea and we see sharks, we become alarmed. Dolphins and porpoises, however, cause little consternation. Similarly, when a militant Atheist visits a Christian blog, he will be regarded with the same circumspection one would regard a shark. Whereas a another Christian will be more readily welcomed.

        You don’t like that? Well, that’s life in the big city.

        Here is how President Truman put it.

        If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.

        Orderly debate requires that we follow certain rules. You want to follow those rules? That’s good, but no one is required to agree with you, and no one is required to pretend that they respect what you believe. What decency requires is that we respect your person and your rights as another human being. That they do at The Lions Den, and I strive for the same on my own blog.

  5. Pingback: Why Jesus? Part Two | In My Father's House

  6. Pingback: Why Jesus? Part Three | In My Father's House

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