I know the title question may sound a little…weird?? But just think about it for a moment. Which Jesus are you following? If you really stop and think – we have different gospel accounts for a reason. The portrait of Jesus painted by each author is unique yet harmonious with the others. Indeed, the word Messiah, the anointed one, for whom the Jews were waiting and longing, was loaded with all sorts of speculations concerning what kind of deliverer he would be. Some Jews were looking for a warrior-king, like King David, who would build the nation of Israel into the great kingdom it once was. Others were looking for a Moses figure who would lead them once again out of the oppressive hand of a tyrannical empire. Still others were looking for Elijah, or simply “The Prophet”. But what they got was Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph, the carpenter from Nazareth.
But who was this man, Jesus?
According to Matthew he was the Messiah, the one of whom the Law and the Prophets spoke several hundred years before hand. He was the fulfillment of all prophecy, and the chosen redeemer of Israel. Jesus was what Israel was meant to be.
According to Mark he was the Christ, a man of ultimate authority and action.
According to Luke, he was the ultimate, ideal Human. He was the embodiment of perfection, full of strength and emotion, and holding the power over disease, demons, and everything that plagues the human race. He was was humanity was meant to be from the beginning.
According to John, he is God. He is the everliving, all powerful, loving, compassionate Word.
To those he encountered through his ministry, he was a Rabbi, a physician, a prophet, a man possessed, a man with power over demons, a lunatic, a legend, Lord, the Messiah, a friend, a brother, a son, a man of his word. He was the most versatile man in all of history.
So which Jesus do you follow? I believe it is important, and greatly beneficial, to study and learn of Jesus, the 1st Century Palestinian Jewish man who started this revolution. He didn’t appear in a vacuum, free of cultural, economic, and religious influences. He learned, adapted, and was shaped by his environment just like any one of us. We should know, and indeed want to know, more about the head of this movement of which we are a part.
But at the same time, we need to also understand that Jesus is not stagnant. He is not dead. His way of relating to humanity wasn’t left in the tomb along with his burial cloths. He is alive and active right here, right now. He still offers the same promises to the same types of people throughout the world. To the beat-down and broken, he offers hope and support. To the sick, physically and spiritually, he offers healing. To the poor, he offers all the riches of heaven. To the rich, he offers the opportunity to help our fellow man. To the spiritual, he offers a chance to go deeper. To the religious, he offers a chance to be real with themselves and those around them. To the sinful, he offers forgiveness. To the self-righteous, he offers nothing but a prayer for humility. And to all men, everywhere, he offers unsurpassed, unconditional love.
Which Jesus are you following?