“What are you going to do with Jesus?” That’s a question we discussed this past Sunday. Because whether you believe in Jesus or not, you will still make a decision about Him. For those who believe in Jesus, do you see and follow Jesus for Who He actually is? Or have you created some “lesser than” version of Jesus?
In Jesus’ day, there were those who saw Him in the fullness of Who He is and chose to follow Him, one faith step at a time. But there were others who created “lesser than” versions of Jesus — a Jesus who fit what they wanted Jesus to be. They typically saw Him as simply a rabbi, a prophet or perhaps a political messiah who would deliver His people from the tyranny of the Roman government.
Only encountering and following the true Jesus — the full version the Bible claims — will lead to a changed life. When we create and seek out a “lesser than” version of Jesus, nothing really changes. In Luke 24, starting in verse 13, there is a story about two men who were followers of Christ. They had just been in Jerusalem and seen Him crucified. In their minds and hearts, when Jesus died, so did the hope He offered. They did not see Jesus for who He is, who the prophets proclaimed He would be. As they traveled 7 miles back home to a village called Emmaus, the resurrected Jesus showed up and took the journey with them; they did not recognize Him. Two things occurred when these men encountered and eventually saw the true version of Jesus.
Challenged by the Truth (Luke 24:25-27)
As these men shared how troubled they were by Jesus’ death, Jesus, in verse 25, called the two men “foolish” and “slow of heart”. To us, this probably seems harsh and abrasive, but Jesus was simply challenging these men who were followers of Christ with the truth. The word “foolish” does not mean stupid or a lack of ability to understand the truth. It actually refers to a lack of effort. The phrase “slow of heart” carries the same connotation. It is not that they could not see the truth about Who Jesus is. They simply had not made the effort to discover the whole truth about Who Jesus is.
Walking for 7 miles, there was a lot of time for conversation, so Jesus “explained” (v.27) the whole truth, revealed in scripture, about Who He is. The Bible’s use of the word “explain” implies a thoroughness, as if translating something into a native language. Jesus made the whole truth clear to them; now they had to decide to either adjust their minds and hearts to the truth, or continue to try and adjust the truth to their “lesser than” version of Jesus.
When you begin to see and follow Who Jesus actually is, you will have moments in life where you will be challenged by the truth from God’s Word. One sure sign of settling for a “lesser than” Jesus is never being truly challenged, but instead sticking with the status quo in life. Jesus will always love you enough to challenge you with the truth, even in those moments where you do not want to hear it.
Enlightened by an Encounter (Luke 24:28-32)
After spending almost the whole day with Jesus and hearing Him reveal the whole truth from scripture, these men still did not yet recognize Jesus. As they arrived in Emmaus, they “urged Him strongly” (v.29a) to stay overnight at one of the men’s homes. This phrase is in a form that reveals that this personal invitation came from their hearts. It stemmed from their desire to spend more time with Jesus. Luke (the gospel writer using the same language and images of the Last Supper and the feeding the 5,000) says, “When He was at the table with them, He took the bread, gave thanks, and broke it and gave it to them.” (v.30). It was in this moment that their “eyes were opened” (v.31) and they saw Jesus for Who He really is. Jesus was not just another rabbi, prophet or political messiah. He was the One prophesied about in scripture, the Son of God, the Word (God) become flesh. This is the One Who transforms you when you see Him and follow Him.
These men, not unlike us today, had to be challenged by the truth. Then they could be enlightened, seeing life through God’s eyes.
When you follow a “lesser than” form of Jesus, nothing of significance changes. When choosing to see and follow the actual Jesus, life on this journey with Him is transformed. Which Jesus do you see and follow on a day-to-day basis?