Once there was only one Jesus. It was that Jesus from Nazareth, son of a carpenter. Later, because there were many Jews named "Jesus" [or, Joshua], one inspired writer actually refers to "the Jesus" to draw a distinction with all those others named "Jesus."
After his miraculous three year ministry and then hanging from an execution Tree, there was no question who this Jesus was, because there was a sign over his limp head with his name on it - "Jesus, King of the Jews." [Matthew 27:37] After his notorious resurrection and reappearance among his disciples, it was clear this was the same "Jesus" and not a different one, an imposter. [Luke 24:13-31; John 21:4-12]
At the ascension of the Nazarene the angels referred to him as "this Jesus." [Acts 1:11] During his Pentecostal speech to international Jews, Peter also refers to "this Jesus." [Acts 2:32, 36] Later, when Paul began to preach, it was "this Jesus." [Acts 17:3] Paul, likely the writer of Hebrews, assured the Jews that "this Jesus" would not himself change "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever." However, would some arrive and introduce "a different Jesus" or "another Jesus" - different from the one reported in the Gospels?
Yes, Paul writes of those "ministers of Satan" who would bring "a different Jesus." He does this when writing to the congregation in Corinth:
"The god of this Period of Time has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that the illumination of the glorious good news about the Christ may not beam forth. Indeed, if another arrives preaching a different 'Jesus' - not the One we preached - or a different spirit - you receive them; or, a different 'Gospel' than what you accepted, you easily tolerate such. Such persons are pseudo apostles, deceitful workers, refashioning themselves into Christ's apostles. And no wonder, for Satan himself continues to transform himself into an 'angel of light'. It is not great thing, then, if his servants also continue to refashion themselves as ministers of righteousness." [2 Corinthians 4:3, 4; 11:4, 13-15 NCMM; KNX]
Clearly, the future Church could expect different forms of Jesus - "a different Jesus" as part of "a different Gospel." After two thousand years, having entered the 3rd Millennium, there have come to be many different types of Jesus different from that Jesus of the Gospels. What are some of these?
It took only several decades to elevate that Jesus from Nazareth into "God." No where does the real Jesus ever claim to be God, and when his Jewish opposes accuse him of such, he gives an answer it would be impossible for God to give: "I can do nothing of myself." [John 5:19-38; 10:30-36] Not once "during the days of his flesh" was Jesus ever characterized as God. Indeed, he was described as being "less than God." [See notes on Hebrews 2:7, 9 and Psalm 8:4 in Nazarene Commentary©.]
Though it is true that in his pre-existence and his post resurrection, the designation "god" [or, divine] is used of the one who became Jesus. [John 1:1, 18] This was in harmony with the prophecy of Isaiah 9:6 which addresses the glorified Messiah as "Mighty God." The word "god" was used with a wider application than it does today. [See Nazarene Commentary© and Error of the Trinity.]
As the decades past it was not long before what later evolved into the Trinity became Church dogma under the rule of the pagan Roman emperor Constantine. Today the major sects of Christendom no longer believe in the Jesus of the Gospels, but rather a divine person as a part or mode of a Triune Godhead. This Jesus has become a Greek Jesus after the manner of Pythagoras and Aristotle: "For, as the Pythagoreans say, the world and all that is in it is determined by the number three, since beginning and middle and end give the number of an 'all', and the number they give is the triad [Greek triados; English = "trinity"]. And so, having taken these three from nature as (so to speak) laws of it, we make further use of the number three in the worship of the Gods." (Aristotle, On the Heavens, Book I, 1)
Another "Jesus" which has prominently developed in the 20th Century is the "social" Jesus as part of the Social Gospel. This modernist view rejects the claims of Jesus while holding to some of the key principles of the Jewish teacher. While hardly believing in Jesus himself, they use this new Jesus for social reform or revolution. In the process others come to hate Jesus because he is associated with some of the evils of political and so-called humanitarian agendas.
In the last few decades another - a different Jesus - has raised its head. This is the Jesus of the so-called Prosperity Preachers. One cannot watch the TV religious channels without hearing a well-coiffured preacher in a thousand dollar suit trying to prove from the Bible that God wants you to be rich. Essentially the message is: "If you give to me God will bless you." He emotionally waves his hands with gold rings and an expensive Rollex watch. He drives, or is driven in, a luxury automobile. He lives in a million-dollar mansion. Often he has a Leer jet at the ready.
A jet pilot for such a Get-Rich-Preacher confessed to this author that he had flown the evangelist to Mexico to meet with "kept women" at his disposal. There they indulged in "day-time luxury" with "eyes full of adultery." [2 Peter 2:13, 14] He then flew back to California and continued his TV appeals for more money. Unfortunately these scam artists use another Jesus to make their point.
They ignore that the real Jesus taught a non-materialistic, simple way of life in God's service. Jesus taught it was not possible to serve both God and Riches. [Matthew 6:10, 19-34] The Nazarene taught his own disciples to "sell everything they owned and give to charity." [Luke 12:32, 33] Any who claim to be of such a "little flock" are duty bound to follow the example of the apostles. [Acts 2:44, 45; 4:32-37] [Compare the article "The Little Flock and the Faithful Steward – Who are They?" in Nazarene Commentary©.
The above is often associated with this different Jesus - the Jesus of the corporate conglomerate. Some religious organizations have become so big and powerful they own expensive real estate worth billions of dollars through out the world. Most of their followers have no idea how much money has been contributed - or extorted - to develop such possessions. While claiming to be of the "Little Flock" they ignore the Lord's command, "Sell all your possessions and give charitable gifts to the poor." [Luke 12:32, 33]
These sects are also characterized by a frightful control over the lives of their flocks. The flock is periodically solicited for contributions and often dunned for failure to make payments. While the majority of the flock live below medium income with many actually very poor, the religious hierarchy lives in a style far above the average church goer.
The manager for Jimmy Swaggert once confessed to this writer: "It is nothing more than show business, that is all it is. Show business." Anyone who watches the TV evangelists - with their multi-million dollar investments in space satellites - will see music, music, music, and more music. This ranges from rap-music to screaming gospel music. Not content with this, some have special productions such as the muscle-men for Jesus who demonstrate God's spirit by blowing up hot-water bottles until they burst. Or, crushing blocks of ice and concrete with their foreheads just as martial artists do. Where one finds this in the Gospels is a real puzzlement.
There is a multi-million dollar business motivated by profit to produce more "inspiration music and literature" hundreds of larger than the Bible itself. This fosters adherents who spend more time reading inspirational work in a variety of forms, while having never read the Bible once. One may go into a "Bible" and see it filled, not with Bibles, but inspirational music CDs, inspirational cards, inspirational books, etc., etc., etc. Though these are not necessarily harmful, they are if they distract the average Christian from reading his or her Bibles.
If the above was not enough to demonstrate the many different gospels, is the modern attempt to convince the world that Jesus was homosexual - the reason he was surrounded mainly by men. There are gay clergy with gay churches producing their own gay literature. This "different Jesus" is so strong that it has become "politically incorrect" to even mention such.
Jesus of Nazareth called, "Come follow me." By reading the Gospels several times the genuine disciple of the Nazarene will discover the real Jesus and avoid the counterfeits. The real Jesus will always walk in uncompromising truth, a blameless and virtuous life-style, a love for even enemies, a strong stand against hypocritical religious leaders, and a burning devotion to God. The real Jesus calls out:
"Come to me all those burdened by toil and I will refresh you. Pick up my yoke and learn from me, because I am meek and humble in heart." [Matthew 11:28, 29 NCMM]
Nazarene Commentary 2000© by Mark Heber Miller
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