Smoky Mountain Bible Institute (Est. 2009) Lesson #98
Where is Jesus??? In our world today, full of little churches and mega churches trying to sell you Jesus by saying ‘Come over here, we have the Jesus you didn't even know you needed or wanted’, how does one find the real Jesus? Well, first let’s make a typically Lutheran statement..."you do not find Jesus He finds you!" That is all fine and good and true but not very helpful in responding to the constant barrage of trendy Jesus marketing. So, let’s briefly review the three main marketing tools used to sell you a Jesus that is really more about you than the Savior who came to save you. That is what marketing naturally does, appeals to the individual.
The reason for identifying these false Jesus marketing models is to help us to see them in a sort of sea of theological positions. Even those of us who hold to sound biblical doctrine fall into these traps or to put it the way Luther did, the Church is like a drunken peasant that climbs out of one ditch only to stager across the road and fall into another. These metaphors may be a bit of an over simplification, but good books have been written to deal with this topic in detail. I would recommend these three; 1. Broken: 7 ''Christian'' Rules That Every Christian Ought to Break as Often as Possible Dec 5, 2012, by Jonathan M. Fisk, 2. Spirituality of the Cross Revised Edition February 1, 2010 by Gene Edward Veith, 3. The Quest for Holiness: A Biblical, Historical and Systematic Investigation August 26, 2004, by Adolf Koberle (Author), John C. Mattes (Translator).
Even if we are aware of the “three ladders” so to speak the great deceiver does his best to disguise falsehoods in a myriad of ways. Trying to get us to focus on our; ladder 1- mind, ladder 2- feelings, or ladder 3 - work instead of our Savior. While it is important for us to keep our focus on who Jesus is, it is also helpful to know who Jesus is not, to avoid putting our focus in the wrong place.
With the eyes of faith, it is as easy to see where Jesus is to be found. Just like looking for Waldo on a busy multi-coloured page. You know exactly what Waldo looks like. His candy cane shirt and hat, the glasses and blue jeans are unmistakable. The true Jesus might make you feel good, He will bless you but not necessarily in the way you wish. Science and history are His friend, but those things are not how you will know Him. You will know Him because He is where He says He will be in His word and sacraments. You can know with absolute certainty that you are a baptized child of God whom He loves more than His own life which He gave on a cross. He regularly nurtures you through His word proclaimed and His (body / bread) and (blood / wine) put in your mouth for your forgiveness. Take comfort in His assurance "Lo I am with you always even unto the end of the world" Amen.
As I said earlier even though we know these truths about Jesus, we will still struggle with these three ladders. The first and most popular ladder is that of the shallow self-centered versions of ‘marketing Jesus’ is the, "Look at how good I feel Jesus". This version of marketing Jesus is easy to identify. Followers talk a lot about Jesus, but Jesus is not really ‘doing’ any of the verbs. This version of Jesus does not talk about what Jesus did for you or what Jesus does for you. The "Look at how good I feel Jesus" follower is always telling you about how Jesus makes you feel. In truth, Jesus does not manipulate our emotions. How we feel is about us, not about Jesus. Emotions are a gift from God and yes, when we sing His praises or listen to His word or read His words or share how He has blessed us, it can and should make us feel good. But those feelings are not Jesus, and they are no indication of how close He is to us. The one who bled and died for ours sins is always close to us no matter how we feel. When I do not feel good Jesus it there whether I feel Him or not. If I do not feel good, if I am grieving, if I am hungry, if I am sick? Jesus is right there suffering with me, tending to my needs through the loving actions of others. Our feelings can fool us into thinking Jesus in not there when we need Him most.
When we are hurting He provides means to assure us of His presence and we don’t have to doubt this truth because his word plainly spells it out. He gives us pastors to proclaim us to be absolved when we confess. He gives us baptism in which he takes ownership of us by putting His name on us, washing us into his death and resurrection. He gives us Bread and Wine that is His flesh and blood, forgiveness we can smell, taste and touch. When we need Him the most, He is there providing the peace He promised. So, if someone tries to sell you a "Look at how good I feel Jesus" say no thanks I am feeling a bit nauseous and I know he is here at my side! The official theological term for this ladder is “Enthusiasm”.
We will have to address the other two ladders next month
Until then have a blessed Summer
In Christ Pastor Portier