What it looks like to follow Jesus Christ

Date: 5 Jun 2022

Speaker: Ps Luwin Wong

Sermon Text: Luke 9:1-50

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In 2013, Reza Aslan’s book, “Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth” not only sat atop the NYT bestsellers list for several months, the book also reached the no.1 spot on Amazon’s best sellers list.

The central idea the book revolves around the question: “Who is Jesus?”

Aslan’s answer is this: Jesus is a Zealot. A 1st century Jewish freedom fighter. A violent revolutionary who tried to be king of earthly kingdom by brute force. And Rome regarded Jesus as a sufficient threat to peace and stability in the region which resulted in his death by crucifixion. Jesus never saw himself as divine, he was just a violent revolutionary who ultimately failed in his mission to restore the kingdom of Israel by force. That’s all he is: a Zealot.

Bart Ehrman, one of the world’s most respected New Testament scholars, who happens to be an atheist, believes that Jesus isn’t a Zealot but a Prophet. Jesus is fully man, and zero God. And he doesn’t not see himself as king. He is simply a human Jewish prophet who has come to declare God’s judgment on this world, and to provide ethical teachings to his followers, as a prophet does.

Another view, known as the Jesus myth theory, asserts that to ask the question, “Did Jesus of Nazareth exist?” is equivalent to asking, “Did Aragon, son of Arathon exist?” or “Did Harry Potter exist?” Which is to say, “Yes they exist!” But only in a book, only in story, only as a myth.

So then, in today’s world, we have at least three answers to the question, “Who do you say Jesus is” – he is a Zealot, he is a prophet, he is a myth.

And then we have the Christian answer. He is the Christ – the divine Son of God.

Now, the question, “Who is Jesus?” isn’t so much a question of opinion as it is a question of fact. In other words, it’s not like asking, what is your “favourite flavour of ice-cream?” Where even though there are different answers, there is no wrong answer, there is no right answer, and every answer is valid and equal and true.

That is not the case when it comes to the question of Jesus. In the movie “The fiddler on the roof”, a group of villages were looking a newspaper. And one villager said that there is no need to learn about the outside world because it’s irrelevant, to which the main character Tevye responded “he’s right”. Upon hearing that, another villager said, “Nonsense, you can’t close your eyes to what’s happening in the world.” And Tevye thought about it and again said, “he’s right”. And which point, a third villager pointed out, “he’s right, and he’s right? They can’t both be right!” And Tevye nodded and said, “you are also right”.

And its humor lies in its absurdity. It makes zero sense to accept every opinion as “right” if it is a matter of fact. To the question, “Who do you say Jesus is?” We can have different answers, but we cannot all be right, if our answers are different and contradictory.

When it comes to matters of fact, it is not more enlightened to be tolerant of differing opinion, it is simply absurd.