Jesus Christ and Dr. Pepper: So Misunderstood!

Posted: January 23, 2015 in Uncategorized
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Luke 9:7-9 — There was an ad campaign back in the 70’s for Dr. Pepper whose catch phrase and song about it was “Dr. Pepper, So Misunderstood!” It was a highly effective ad campaign that made Dr. Pepper go from a fringe soft drink to one with a loyal following. Everyone today now understands Dr. Pepper. We ourselves often feel like Dr. Pepper prior to the mid-70s. Misunderstood. Have you ever felt like people didn’t really understand you? Didn’t know who you really are? You are labeled. You are Meghan and Taylor’s dad. When my girls when in middle school and high school, I was mainly known by this label. You are Michelle’s stepdad. You are Elena’s husband. You are the chief financial guy at Fujikura America, Inc. You are co-director of community outreach at your church. You are a small group leader. You are. You are. But do people really know who I am? Do you often feel that way? Do you feel like people do not know the real you, the you on the inside? Jesus is like Dr. Pepper sometimes. So misunderstood. Herod Antipas, in today’s passage, did not understand Jesus. Many today do not understand who Jesus really is. Jesus Christ, So Misunderstood!

These questions of identity are always surrounding Jesus. Not only did Herod Antipas, the local king appointed by Rome to rule over Galilee, not understand who Jesus was but many today do not understand who Jesus is. Many are clueless as to who Jesus was, who He really was. Herod and many of the people of Jesus’ day had a hard time accepting that Jesus was the Son of God. We sit and laugh at their ignorance today, because we have the advantage as Christ followers of knowing how this story turns out. But in Herod Antipas’ day the story was playing out in front of them. They could not accept that Jesus was God in the flesh. They had to come up with other solutions. Many thought that Jesus must have been someone who had come back to life, perhaps John the Baptist or another of the previously slain prophets. Some suggested that He was Elijah who had not died but was wisked away to heaven in a chariot of fire. Very few had the correct answer. All during the years after the Israelite kingdom had been overthrown and dominated by other nations, Babylon, Persia, Egypt and now Rome, the longest lasting foreign domination of them all, the people of the former Israelite kingdom were clamoring for the Messiah to return. Yet, they had morphed Him into some military/political conqueror rather than the Savior of man. Jesus was misunderstood then. Jesus is misunderstood now.

May people today still have trouble accepting Jesus as the fully human yet fully divine Son of God. People are still trying to find alternative explanations. Explanations such as that He was a great philosopher whose way of life and teaching led to enlightenment not unlike Buddha. Some see, and I saw Him mainly this way before I was saved, as this radical teacher than ran against the grain of the status quo. He was a anti-establishment revolutionary. He wanted to change the social structure and pointed out the hypocrisy of the current social structure. This was the cool Jesus to me. He was the Martin Luther King, the Gandhi, or any other comparison to modern day social revolutionaries. As a young man, I could identify with that. I was in my anti-establishment, the older generation has got it all screwed up and only my generation gets it phase. He and U2 with the biting social commentaries were my social change heroes. However, I could not quite go to the mat on this whole God come to earth thing. Sure, Jesus was a great political and social satirist and revolutionary thinker, but the Son of God? Come on? I had to rationalize away the miracles as having some rational natural law explanation such that they were labeled miracles because people at the time did not understand science and natural law the way we do now. Tougher still was the resurrection. I couldn’t explain that. Maybe that was just a nice story added by the church to give us a happy ending. I was not alone in this kind of analysis of Jesus Christ. Many people today believe in this way. In fact, more and more people in this way. People typically do not deny the existence of a man named Jesus, but they do misunderstand who He is still. Herod Antipas was not alone. Thousands of years of history have passed and Jesus is still misunderstood.

Just as some people categorize me as an accountant but don’t see the guy who can find humor in almost any situation. Some see me as a 52 year old man but they don’t see the 15 year old kid inside me that keeps me young and enjoying sophomoric humor to this day. Some label me as an guy with life experience, or as a guy who has been weathered by life but do not see the little boy that I really am inside. Some see me as a serious man but do not see the guy who is still amazed at an airplane flying by and stops in his tracks to look up in awe and wonder. Some see me as a self-assured father but don’t see the guy inside who is still figuring out how to be a good father after almost 30 years on the job. People are like that about Jesus. They have their labels for Him that meet their neat and tidy explanations of who Jesus is. Herod did. Many today do.

Ultimately, as CS Lewis once expounded, Jesus is either a lunatic, a liar, or he is Lord. He is either mad, bad, or God. There is no in-between. Jesus cannot be just a great political commentator and revolutionary. You have to throw out the miracles. You have to throw out the references to being the Son of God, of He and the Father being One. You have to throw out that He openly stated that He forgave sins. If you consider Jesus reliable as a moral teacher, what do you do with these things? You cannot have it both ways. There is no middle ground with Jesus. He cannot just be a great moral teacher. There were too many things He said and did that would undermine Him being only that. His claims would undermine that. He would be a madman if the truth about Him were not true. Leading people on this 2,000 plus year journey as the Son of God would then be the greatest lie every perpetrated on mankind. Herod did not know who Jesus was. Neither do most of us today.

Jesus’ true identity is that He is who He says He is. He is the Son of God. His true identity comes to you only by faith. Either you believe Him or you do not. Jesus as the Son of God is either something that you completely accept or completely reject. I can demonstrate to you that Jesus did actually exist based on references outside the Bible to His existence. But Jesus’ true identity and your acceptance of it can only come by faith. We are saved by our faith. When we meet our judgment either at our own death or at Jesus’ promised second coming, we will join Him in Heaven. Are you willing to only go so far as to allow Jesus to be a great moral teacher but no more? What if us Jesus freaks are right? Are you willing to bet your eternity on it? Almost every man believes in some form of afterlife. We are wired that way by God. We expect something after death. That all of this mere 70 years life on average is all there is to it is unacceptable almost universally. We all expect an afterlife. Are you willing then to rest your expected afterlife, your eternity, on the fact that He was just some moral teacher, some political revolutionary, some social satirist, just a man? He says He is the Son of God. I believe Him through faith. Evidence can only take you so far. Faith has to come into play at some point. You believe in eternity in some form, then, why can you not believe that Jesus is who He says He is…the only way to the Father. Are you willing to bet your eternity on a different answer?

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