Pastor Kent Munsey
April 21, 2019
If we’re not careful, we can assume that all religions are the same, that all roads lead to God. Let’s ask the question today: do all roads lead to God?
1. Understanding the uniqueness of the claim of Jesus: The unique claim of Jesus is found in John 14:6-7 -- “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
All religions are not the same. For example, in Buddhism, there is no god. A Hindu believes in a personal god whom you approach through statues and idols. In both of these religions, there is no redemption of sin and no supernatural help; there is just karma. Our Muslim brothers and sisters worship one god, Allah, and righteousness is found through religious good works and discipline. In the New Age religion, there is no god, and the goal is to be at one with the universe.
If you contrast our Christian faith with these popular religions, you would have to conclude that they are not the same. They are different roads leading to different destinations. Oftentimes, Christians are viewed as narrow-minded or as non-thinkers; just because someone doesn’t think the way that you think doesn’t mean that they’re not thinking.
It’s important for us to understand the unique claim of Jesus. Jesus is the one who said he is the only way. Christianity is pretty unique: it means that we believe Jesus is the only begotten son of God, was born of a virgin, was both fully god and fully man, lived a perfect life, and offered himself as a ransom, taking the judgment that was upon us, and on the third day he rose again, defeating sin, death and the grave. When we put our faith in Jesus, we believe that we have abundant life on earth and a forever life in heaven. It’s unique.
2. Jesus’ ministry is accepted. Everyone has accepted the ministry of Jesus: historians, theologians, and leaders of other religions. Jesus was a historical figure; he was a rabbi, a prophet, and a healer. The people who were against Jesus actually didn’t deny his ministry; they just wanted him to stop. His ministry is accepted, but it’s the resurrection of Jesus that people often cannot accept.
3. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything (1 Peter 1:3-9). The resurrection of Jesus is not a man-made idea. If Jesus is dead, then so is Christianity. But Jesus is alive today; he defeated sin, death and the grave. Jesus showed himself alive for 40 days after his resurrection because he wants us to understand who he is. We celebrate the day death died on Easter, and we have a living hope in the life and resurrection of Jesus Christ. It was the resurrection of Jesus that caused James, the brother of Jesus, to become a follower, and that caused Thomas, the doubter, to believe. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.
Some would claim that the Roman soldiers stole his body. But the Roman soldiers would have looked like failures if they did that, because they are the ones who crucified them. Some would say that his followers stole his body. Would it make sense that the ones who denied him, who ran away when he was being crucified, overpowered the Roman guards, stole his body, and put on the greatest hoax history has ever seen, that they were martyred for a lie, and made the world a better place in the process?
The resurrection of Jesus is the hope of the world. If you study the Bible, from Genesis to Malachi, you will find that there are 322 Messianic prophecies that point to the person of Jesus. For one single person at one point in history to fulfill all of these prophecies is a supernatural phenomenon. Jesus was able to fulfill 322 messianic prophecies. The resurrection sealed the deal when it came to Jesus being the Messiah. The resurrection of Jesus changes everything.
4. Jesus is alive. People throughout history have set out to disprove the resurrection of Jesus. Gilbert West was an atheist who set out to disprove Jesus’ resurrection, but ended up becoming a follower, and in the process he wrote the book, “The Other Way Around.” General Lou Wallace did the same, writing a book that became the movie “Ben Hur.” Frank Morrison was also agitated by the claim that Jesus had resurrected from the grave. As a lawyer and a journalist he thought surely he could find evidence to disprove the claim, and four years in, he meets Jesus and writes the book, “Who Moved the Stone?” Lee Strobel, a Chicago journalist, also set out to disprove the resurrection, then became a Christian and wrote a book. If you are doubting the resurrection of Jesus, you might want to consider writing a book to disprove it.
Jesus’ claim is unique, his ministry is known and accepted, but his resurrection is the divider in the road. Because it’s only through his resurrection that we receive this new life, this living hope.
Abraham was a father of the faith, but he is buried, and people visit his grave. Buddha was a good man, but he is dead and people visit his grave, as is Muhammad, whom people visit in Medina.
There is no claim that rivals that of Jesus, that he is the way, the truth and the life. Jesus overcame sin, descended into hell, defeated the devil, and rose on the third day. He ascended into heaven and is now seated on the throne. In him we live, and move, and have our being. He rose again so that we could understand who he is.
There are 308 names of Jesus in scripture because he wants us to understand who he is. He wanted Peter to know that there is new life after failure. He wanted Thomas to know that his grace is sufficient.
All of religion is performance-based, it’s about us searching for grace. But the resurrection is about grace searching for you and me. Jesus showed himself alive for 40 days because he wants us to understand that he is the way, truth and the life. He who puts his faith in Jesus will never be put to shame. The eternal message of Jesus is life.
Do you understand the unique claim of Jesus?
How do we compare the claim of Jesus with other religions and faiths?
Do you believe that Jesus was resurrected?
Who is Jesus to you?
What do you think the message of Jesus means for the world?