Message No. 2 To Seekers, Doubters and Unbelievers in Coronavirus Times
Hello again. This message to you is a continuation of Message No. 1 – and future messages will be a continuation of this one. So I suppose the best thing would be to start with Message No. 1 and work your way through the others. But I leave that up to you.
In Message No. 1, I mentioned how I was fascinated by the person of Jesus in the New Testament part of the Bible. Today I want to tell you how I originally thought of Him.
Message No. 2 - Jesus Man and God
I had no difficulty in believing that Jesus really existed as a man, especially because this is supported by several references to Jesus in the writings of the Roman Jewish historian Flavius Josephus, who lived a generation after Jesus. I believed that Jesus lived, taught people, was unjustly arrested, and crucified as an innocent man, because the Jewish people had turned against Him.
However, I found it difficult to believe that He had been conceived without any sexual relations between His father Joseph and His mother Mary – which is what the New Testament tells us. Neither could I believe that He healed people miraculously or raised them from the dead. Also, I couldn’t believe that, after His death on the cross, He rose from the dead Himself. I regarded all these supernatural events as early Christian propaganda. Nevertheless, I had great respect for Jesus’ moral teachings. Apart from one or two sayings which I thought were out of place, they made excellent sense to me, and I didn’t know of any other teacher whose teachings went so deep. They went straight to my heart.
However, this wasn’t the whole picture of Jesus which I had, because in the Bible He is also known as “Jesus Christ”, or simply, “Christ”. The word “Christ” comes from a Greek word meaning “Anointed One” (remember that, while the Old Testament was written in Hebrew, the New Testament was written in Greek). The Hebrew equivalent for “Christ” is “Messiah” – in other words, “one who is anointed”. Jesus was God’s “Anointed One”, whose coming is prophesied and promised all through the Old Testament part of the Bible. That’s the value of the Old Testament: it points the way to Jesus. Jesus is a special person who is to save God’s people from their sins.
You know, whenever I saw the word “Christ” in the Bible, a strange thing happened. It meant something super-human, something divine to me. The word “Jesus” for me represented the man; but the word “Christ” represented God. Statements like “the Spirit of Christ”, “Christ the power of God”, and “Christ the Rock” made me think of God, not of a man. And indeed, despite what some non-Christians believe about Jesus, the Bible – and Christianity – teach that Jesus was and is both God and man. Jesus and God are one and the same. The New Testament refers to “our God and Saviour Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 1, 1). This might be a new idea for you, but it is what Christians believe and teach.
So I knew that there was something special about Jesus, which no man living before or since has ever had: He was both man and God who came to earth. Of course, why God should come to earth as a man is a separate question, and I propose to consider it in my next message, Message No. 3.
However, I still had this dilemma. Jesus was a man who somehow had God in Him: He was close to God, and His amazing teachings and authority proved it. But surely all those miraculous events concerning Him – His birth, His healings and His bodily rising from the dead – surely they couldn’t possibly be true? I actually held these ideas for many years, even though I considered myself a good Christian and went to church regularly. So there was something incomplete about my faith. I was a believer – and yet I didn’t believe everything the Bible tells us about Jesus.
There was also another aspect in which my faith was still incomplete, or immature. This concerned the events of my daily life – I couldn’t see God in it. I believed that God existed. But maybe He existed just in my mind. Or maybe He was somewhere else, not concerned with this world and its suffering. In the world, evil usually triumphs over good. The strong crush the weak. The rich exploit the poor. Where was God in this? It was as if my personal faith in God was something private, and had no relation to what was happening in the world outside. Maybe you are feeling like that right now: the coronavirus seems to be running our planet, and God seems absent. Of course, the result of such thinking is that we are afraid. I too was afraid, because I was always worrying about what terrible things could happen to me at any time: tragedies involving health, work, money, love relationships. I felt I couldn’t rely on God, because He just didn’t seem to be around. Jesus was close to God. The first Christians were close to God. But I couldn’t get close to Him.
There was also one more problem. Even though I knew that Jesus had God in Him, and even though I preferred Christianity to other faiths, I still couldn’t help feeling that other paths would lead to God too – the way of the Buddhist, for instance. Or the way of the Jew, or the Muslim, or the Hindu. Even the way of good atheists, who didn’t believe in God, but who were kind and generous. This created a conflict within me, because the Bible teaches that Jesus is the only way to God. In the Bible, Jesus says: “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14, 6). Nobody else! Can you imagine? Truth is a Person – not an intellectual formulation.
So there I was with my dilemmas: a sort of Christian, but not believing in the miraculous side of Jesus; not fully believing that faith in Him is the only way in which we can be saved; and not really experiencing the presence of God in my daily life, but rather being full of worry and uncertainty because I still, deep down, believed that everything that happens to me happens by chance, by accident. I was a practising Christian without the full experience of faith and peace.
Do you know what helped me? I would pray to God to help me with these problems and give me a unity of vision which was in harmony with the unity of the Bible, and also give me the peace and joy which I craved so much. All I can say is that one day – I can’t even say which particular day – I opened my Bible to read about Jesus; and suddenly everything just made perfect sense! In an instant, in almost a supernatural way, all my doubts had been removed, and I realized that not only were the miraculous descriptions about Jesus true, but in fact, if He was God (as the Bible claims), there is no other possibility but that they had to be true.
This faith I received also brought me a peace and joy which I hadn’t known before. I knew that God had come to earth for a purpose; that He was therefore interested and present in the everyday events that happened to me; and also that He did not come to earth in anybody else. I now knew that Jesus really is exclusive, and that this rules out every other way to God. All these big dilemmas had been resolved in one go, by my sudden realization of who Jesus was and is.
Let me ask you some questions. If there is a God, is it really so surprising that He could come to earth as a man, to help the very people He created – people who are lost and don’t know what the truth is? Why shouldn’t He come to earth to save us? And if He did come to earth, wouldn’t it make sense that He could be born in a miraculous way, perform miracles and heal people during His life on earth, and rise from the dead after dying? Wouldn’t it also make sense that, if He is God, then His way must be the only way – and other ways are just human inventions? And finally, if He is God, doesn’t that prove to us that things do not happen by chance? Doesn’t it mean that God even intended this coronavirus crisis to happen, for a purpose? And if things do not happen by accident, because God exists and does everything for a purpose, is it not vital that you should have a proper relationship to Him, to ensure that the way you are living, and the thoughts you are thinking, actually please Him?
Dear Friend, I hope my experience and these questions encourage you to find out more about what the Bible says about Jesus. The best thing is to find out for yourself by reading the New Testament, which gives us the essence of the Christian faith. Please don’t despair because of the coronavirus situation. God has everything under control. Just seek God, and do not rest until you find Him. And then you’ll find the answers to your questions.
Preview of the Next Message
In my next message, Message No. 3, I shall be looking at the situation of every man, woman and child on earth. God bless you.