"Jesus" Isn't Enough

Rev. Mark Buetow

You’re bound to hear it from your non-Lutheran friends. Perhaps a family member will say it or you’ll hear it spoken by campus “Christian” groups. Pastors (hopefully never yours) will even tell people. “Sure, we all have differences but what matters is that we all believe in Jesus.” It sounds good. It sounds nice. It sounds like one of those things you’d hear said to prevent people arguing over something like religion. Isn’t there enough to worry about in the world with all the non-Christians who make fun of or persecute Christians? Why should Christians argue? “It’s enough that we all believe in Jesus and know He’s Lord.”

Except that it’s not enough. Because there’s more than one Jesus out there. That was true even way back in St. Paul’s day. Even before that, back in the Old Testament too. When Aaron made the golden calf and Israel worshiped it, Aaron said it was a feast day to “Yahweh,” the true God. They said a false god was the true God. In Paul’s day, lots of Jesuses were being preached. He even got on the case of the Corinthian Christians about it: “But I fear, lest somehow, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, so your minds may be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ. For if he who comes preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached, or if you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a different gospel which you have not accepted -- you may well put up with it!” (1 Corinthians 11:4). The fact is, there is only one true Jesus and He doesn’t want you confused. After all, it’s Jesus Himself who says, “You will know the Truth and the truth will make you free.” (John 8:32) Not some of the Truth or a quarter or half. All of the Truth.

Here’s the irony: the less detailed we get about Jesus, the less He’s our Savior. Someone might argue that it’s not a big deal whether we agree that babies should be baptized or that the Lord’s Supper is the true body and blood of Jesus or just a symbol. But if you start chiseling away at the words and gifts of Jesus, you are whittling away His forgiveness and salvation. At that point, Jesus becomes just something you know, or just something you do or choose instead of the One who is true God and true man who did all the work of our salvation and who delivers that forgiveness and salvation to us with no strings attached.

The Catechism works this out as it simply and clearly teaches us that Jesus is true God and true man and that He redeemed you with His holy, precious blood and His innocent suffering and death. The Holy Spirit calls, gathers, enlightens and sanctifies you so that in Christ’s church you daily and richly have all your sins forgiven. In the church is where Jesus delivers to you the forgiveness He accomplished for you on the cross. When you are baptized, no matter what age, Jesus is forgiving your sins, rescuing you from death and the devil and giving you eternal salvation. When your pastor absolves you, it is just as valid and certain that your sins are forgiven as if Jesus Himself told you. When eat and drink Jesus’ true body and blood in the Lord’s Supper, Jesus Himself is giving you the forgiveness of sins, life and salvation.

If you take away baptism, or the Lord’s Supper or make Jesus into just an example of how you’re supposed to live, then what good is He? If Jesus didn’t die for you, with no conditions for you to fulfill, what kind of Savior does that make Him? Truth is: A Jesus who isn’t dead on the cross and risen from the dead, who doesn’t baptize you with real forgiveness, speak for real through your pastor, or come Himself to you in His body and blood, is no Jesus worth having. He may be a “great teacher” or even a “Savior” or “Lord,” but those words can mean anything and nothing all at the same time. They mean what people think they mean, which is usually something like, “Jesus died for me BUT, now I have to do this or that to make Him MY Savior.”

“Jesus” isn’t enough if by “Jesus” someone means, “Jesus far away who sounds nice but really leaves everything up to me and is whatever I think He is.” But Jesus is everything when it is the real and true Jesus who gives us His Word so we may never doubt but always be certain that He’s a real and true Savior: True God. True Man. Crucified. Risen. Word. Water. Body. Blood. THAT Jesus is not just enough, but more than enough. He’s everything for you and all that you need. When someone wants to talk about “Jesus,” tell them THAT Jesus is the only one that’s any good for either of you and for the whole world. Those fake Jesuses are out there. Yet the real Jesus is not the Waldo to be found among them but the true and shining light that scatters the darkness and illumines His church.

Created: June 11th, 2012