The New Testament gives us four different writers sharing their perspectives on the life and ministry of Jesus through the power of the Holy Spirit.
That concept alone raises questions in my mind. Why not one? Shouldn’t every story be precisely the same? Why are some stories found in one account and not in another?
I think that God, in His infinite wisdom, knew that we need to hear the story of Jesus over and over again. Not just having it repeated to us but shared from different perspectives. We need to listen to the words of eyewitnesses as first-hand experiences (Matthew & John). We also need the cumulative story as gathered by a researcher (Luke). Finally, there needs to be uniform accounts along with something completely different (John). Each person’s perspective shines a little bit of new light on Jesus and opens our eyes to something we might have missed. Therefore it is essential to read all the gospels in detail. You cannot give a casual glance over one of them and think you know Jesus.
I write this because I encounter numerous people who have created a Jesus of their own imagination. They know some of his stories and teachings while being oblivious to others. My personal conversations and online exchanges reveal that they know just enough to be partially correct but only partially.
Here are some areas to test to see if you have created a Jesus of your imagination. If your Jesus is always a nice guy who likes the things you like and hates the same things you hate. He is full of love for people who think like you do and have similar viewpoints. He never says anything you disagree with or causes you to change your ways. Your encounters with him always make you happy and fill you with self-love. Your Jesus never judges sin, pushes you toward holiness, or questions your life choices. He is not connected to any community, and neither are you. Finally, his only message is not to judge so that we can love our neighbor.
The Jesus of the Bible is difficult. He challenges us. He forces us to rethink our positions, change our lifestyles and bring everything under his lordship. The Jesus found in the gospel accounts is not easy to know, understand or follow. His ways are not our ways, and it takes a lifetime to surrender to his leadership.
I really want people to know Jesus, including you. But, I also want to make sure you follow the one revealed on the pages of scripture and not the one you have created in your own image.