What Shall We Do With Jesus?
It is the question of the ages and can be answered in many ways. Six of those ways are examined here.
ONE: We can hide him or proclaim him.
Jesus himself said that those who believe in him are to go out into the whole world and proclaim him as its Savior (Mt. 28:19,20). He is the good news that this dark world needs so desperately to hear.
But not everyone in the world wants to hear such news. Many prefer to remain in the dark and not let the light of the gospel of Jesus Christ shine into their heart. They are afraid of being exposed by the light for who they really are.
“This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil. Everyone who does evil hates the light, and will not come into the light for fear that his deeds will be exposed” (Jn. 3:19,20 NIV).
“Then the man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God as he was walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden” (Gen. 3:8 NIV).
It is bad enough when individuals make use of the freedom of will that God has given them to try to hide from the very one who gave them that freedom; it is far worse when they try to force others to follow their dark course.
“They called the apostles in and had them flogged. Then they ordered them not to speak in the name of Jesus” (Acts 7:40 NIV).
“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Mt. 23:13 NIV).
Others, however, hide Jesus and his word in a different way, one that honors him.
“His mother kept all these things in her heart” (Lk. 2:51 RSV).
“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you” (Ps. 119:11 NIV).
Whichever way Jesus is hidden, by those who are against him and do not want him to be known, or by those who are for him and hide him in their hearts, he cannot truly be hidden. For he is the light of the world, and this world’s darkness and the darkness of the human heart cannot overcome that light.
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (Jn. 1:5 RSV).
“No one lights a lamp and puts it in a place where it will be hidden, or under a bowl. Instead he puts it on its stand, so that those who come in may see the light” (Lk. 11:33 NIV).
“You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (Mt. 5:14 NIV).
“In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:16 NIV).
“In the same way, good deeds are obvious, and even those that are not cannot be hidden” (1 Tim. 5:25 NIV).
Hide Jesus? Impossible! His light will shine, through his Word and through those who belong to him, no matter what efforts the powers of darkness take to try to stop this. Nevertheless, many will still try, just as many will let their light and his shine.
What shall we do with Jesus? We can hide him or proclaim him.
TWO: We can distort him or tell the truth about him.
Eventually, the astute among those trying to hide Jesus and the gospel message come to realize that it is impossible to do so. Therefore, they switch tactics. If he cannot be hidden, then they seek to smear that precious name. The people want to know Jesus? Fine. But they will make sure that the Jesus that is preached and proclaimed is not the real Jesus but a counterfeit. His character is maligned, his reputation besmirched; lies are spread about every aspect of his being.
“And they began to accuse him, saying, ‘We have found this man subverting our nation. He opposes payment of taxes to Caesar and claims to be Christ, a king'” (Lk. 23:2 NIV).
“But the Jews became jealous, and gathering together some worthless men from the rabble in the marketplace, they formed a mob and set the city in an uproar” (Acts 17:5 NET).
“We remember what that imposter said while he was still alive, ‘After three days I will rise again'” (Mt. 27:63 NRSV).
But such deceitful and wicked ways and practises are far from the pure and truthful way that those who proclaim the real Jesus use.
“My way of life in Christ Jesus . . . agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church” (1 Cor. 4:17 NIV).
The message cannot be separated from the way it is presented. The message is a living message of spirit that is incorporated in the lives of those who proclaim it truthfully.
“We have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways; we refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God” (2 Cor. 4:2 RSV).
“. . . keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander” (1 Ptr. 3:16 NIV).
“Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us” (1 Ptr. 2:12 NIV).
“For it is God’s will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish men” (1 Ptr. 2:15 NIV).
What shall we do with Jesus? We can distort him or tell the truth about him.
THREE: We can use Jesus for our own purposes or we can let him use us for his.
“Some Jews who went around driving out evil spirits tried to invoke the name of the Lord Jesus over those who were demon-possessed. They would say, ‘In the name of Jesus, whom Paul preaches, I command you to come out. Seven sons of Sceva, a Jewish chief priest, were doing this. One day the evil spirit answered them, ‘Jesus I know, and I know about Paul, but who are you?’ Then the man who had the evil spirit jumped on them and overpowered them all. He gave them such a beating that they ran out of the house naked and bleeding” (Acts 9:13-16 NIV).
“Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!'” (Mt. 7:22,23 NIV).
Both of these examples show the extreme danger of using Jesus and his name for any purpose of our own. Rather, we are to submit to him as Lord and let him use us for whatever purpose he so desires.
“The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; he directs it like a watercourse wherever he pleases” (Prov. 21:1 NIV).
“Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (in the scroll of the book it is written of me) to do your will, O God'” (Heb. 10:7 WEB).
“Not my will, but yours be done” (Lk. 22:42 NIV).
What shall we do with Jesus? We can use Jesus for our own purposes or we can let him use us for his.
FOUR: We can believe him or not believe him.
Part of the mystery of Jesus is that people do believe in him, believe that he is very God in human flesh and Savior of themselves and the world.
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory” (1 Tim. 3:16 KJV).
But “not all have faith” (2 Ths. 3:2 RSV).
That is the other side of the mystery. If it is amazing that some believe in this man who is God, it is even more amazing that many do not. For ample evidence has been given by God of the truth of Jesus’ claim that he is His Son–so much so, in fact, that we stand dumbfounded that anyone would not believe in him. But so it is. Nevertheless, Scripture says that such must purposely. willfully, and deliberately suppress this truth that is so evident.
“For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and wickedness of men who by their wickedness suppress the truth. For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. Ever since the creation of the world his invisible nature, namely, his eternal power and deity, has been clearly perceived in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” Rom. 1:18-20 NIV).
In either case, whether choosing to believe or not to believe, it is a matter of choice and free will.
What shall we do with Jesus? We can believe him or not believe him.
FIVE: We can love him or hate him.
“The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify of it that its works are evil” (Jn. 7:7 NIV).
“Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy” (1 Ptr. 1:18 NIV).
Jesus is the one key figure in the history of the world, around whom all else revolves. Those who seek the ultimate truth of reality will come to him as the fulfillment of that reality. Those who seek anything else will reject him. Those who love the truth will love him, for he is the truth (Jn. 14:6). Those who hate the truth will hate him for the same reason.
What shall we do with Jesus? If we love the truth, we will love him. If we hate the truth, he will be hated for that reason. We can love him or hate him.
SIX: We can kill him or let him live in our hearts.
“Now the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread were only two days away, and the chief priests and the teachers of the law were looking for some sly way to arrest Jesus and kill him” (Mk. 14:1 NIV).
“Jesus answered him, ‘If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him'” (Jn. 14:23 RSV).
The previous possibility, number five, involves hate and love. This possibility, number six, follows in natural order, for what we love and hate in our heart determines what we will let live there–or die there. And whether Jesus is permitted to live in our hearts or not determines everything else, including our destiny for all eternity. If we reject Jesus and do not let him live in our heart and rule it, we, in fact, are guilty of murdering him and will pay the ultimate penalty for that death.
“How much worse punishment do you think will be deserved by the man who has spurned the Son of God, and profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and outraged the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Heb. 10:29-31 RSV).
Nevertheless, “Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case–things that accompany salvation” (Heb. 6:9 NIV).
And on that good note, this comparison of possible ways to deal with Jesus ends–knowing that there are also other possibilities, but these suffice to make us examine ourselves so that we know what our own response is to the question of the ages: What shall we do about Jesus?