**Another great post submitted to me by Joseph Lam. Happy Reading!
During the Christmas season, one really gets to see the different images and angles that people try to portray Jesus as. Many speakers, including pastors, like to emphasize the wisdom of Jesus, saying He was a great teacher on par and in the same class as Muhammad, Buddha, Socrates, or Plato. There are also others, who focus and emphasize solely on Jesus as another bringer of peace, and punctuate His acts of social justice, help to the poor, and kindness to the sick. I’ve even heard of Jesus as a feminist who championed for women’s rights. In a way and to a degree, all of these aspects are certainly tied into Jesus, but we so often only underline the parts that we like to hear or the ones that fit the “holiday mood.”
However, one rarely hears about Jesus the demander. This is the same Jesus who makes such demands and claims that one cannot help but to choose either Him or the world. This is the Jesus who had the audacity to say, “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.” (Matthew 10:37) Jesus even put Himself as a higher priority than the poor! (John 12:8) Who is Jesus? Jesus is demanding, and He forces us to make a clear and distinct black and white choice—Him or the world. And this is the part where most of us walk away.
This past summer, I had unprecedented amounts of time to sit down and simply read. One of my favorite books I read was a book by Flannery O’Connor, and in it was the short story, “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” In it, one of the characters, the notorious Misfit, recognizes Jesus for who He really claims to be and what that means for the rest of us:
Jesus was the only One that ever raised the dead…He has thrown everything off balance. If He did what He said, then it’s nothing for you to do but throw away everything and follow Him, and if He didn’t, then it’s nothing for you to do but enjoy the few minutes you got left the best way you can…
Jesus claims to be the way, the truth, and the life. He declares Himself as the great I AM. And He also offers salvation through his death on the cross. What is our response as sinners? If Jesus is truly God in flesh and is the Lord of lords, then we have no other proper reaction than either to devote ourselves to Him full-heartedly or to outright reject Him. There is no middle ground.