Commentary by Janet L. Smith Â© 2009
Scriptures NIV: Copyright Â© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society
Why People Don’t Believe in Jesus
The reason people hold to other named beliefs (Atheism, Buddhism, Islamic-Muslim, Hinduism, etc.) and place their deity’s or their intellectual conclusions on the same level of, or above the eternal achievement of Jesus, is because those same people have no comprehension of what Jesus did for them or who Jesus is, namely, the Divine Son of God and the Son of Man. In his humanity, Jesus lived out the divine nature of God perfectlyâ€”even when faced with every temptation ever offered to mankind, and perfectly when under the duress of unimaginable torture and unjust human meanness during his scourging and crucifixion, and in perfect trust in his Father’s love while suffering the horrific torment of hell itself.
People can read and read and read and never understand until they ask the Holy Spirit for an understanding of who Jesus is. Because this understanding transcends natural human comprehension, the inspiration must come from God himself, by his Spirit. So if a person wants to understand God’s love for them and they open the door of their heart to the possibility that Jesus is who he says he is, they simply need to ask the Holy Spirit for an understanding of who Jesus is and the price of love that he paid to gain their eternal salvation. If people understand who Jesus is and the price he paid to save them because he loves them, they will believe in him.
In order to believe in Jesus, we must be given divine understanding that he is the Son of God and that he loves us like we couldn’t have ever imagined without divine understanding. And knowing how incredibly profound his love for us is helps us trust that what he says is true. When people understand the price that only Jesus could and did pay for them, they would naturally give him the place of exclusive honor in their hearts and everyday actions. They would gladly call Jesus their “Savior” and “Lord.” They would also accept that the hardcopy of eyewitness accounts, i.e., the Bible, is true and all that Jesus said about himself in the Bible is true.
When we finally understand the incredible price of love that only Jesus could and did pay for us as the Divine Son of God, we would never consider putting anyone in the same sentence, let alone the same galaxy of comparison to Jesus. He truly is the Name above ALL names. Only Jesus could and DID pay the price described in Philippians 2:5-11 which says this: “5 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to deathâ€”even death on a cross! 9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus is the Only Way to the Father: John 14:5-10
John 14:5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we don’t know where you are going, so how can we know the way?”
6 Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you really knew me, you would know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
8 Philip said, “Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.”
9 Jesus answered: “Don’t you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? 10 Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.
“You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “and my servant whom I have chosen, so that you may know and believe me and understand that I am he. Before me no god was formed, nor will there be one after me. I, even I, am the LORD, and apart from me there is no savior. I have revealed and saved and proclaimed– I, and not some foreign god among you. You are my witnesses,” declares the Lord, “that I am God. Yes, and from ancient days I am he. No one can deliver out of my hand. When I act, who can reverse it?”
Believing in Jesus Saves Us from Eternal Death and Gives Us Eternal Life: John 3:16-18
16 “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.
Why Jesus is Qualified to be Called the “Only Way”: Philippians 2:5-11
The three things that qualify Jesus to be the only way to eternal life with the Father are because:
- Jesus is the Son of God (John 3:16).
- Jesus paid the extreme price of love that was necessary to save us (Philippians 2:5-11).
- Jesus is the only one who could, would, and did pay the necessary price (Philippians 2:5-11).
Philippians 2:5-11 describes in detail the outstanding accomplishment of Jesus and confirms that Jesus is the only one qualified to be called by the names of Savior and Lord. Furthermore, the Father whom Jesus exemplified, backed up everything that Jesus did and endorsed every word that Jesus said about himself, said about the Father, and said about the Holy Spirit. 2 Peter 1:17 For he received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” Mark 9:7 Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!”
The Validity of Jesus’ Testimony: John 8:12 – 59
People who believe in Jesus do not have to prove that he is God. Indeed we cannot make people believe something they cannot comprehend. Beyond our own experiential testimony of knowing and understanding the truth about who Jesus is, we cannot prove that what Jesus said about himself, about his Father, and about the Holy Spirit is true either. It is God’s responsibility to prove himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Those who believe in Jesus can simply point people to the Bible to read about what Jesus said about himself there, pray with or for them, and let God do the work of proving himself.
If we don’t open our hearts to receive the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit, we cannot blame God for not answering us when we ask to understand his love and how he expresses it through the divine nature of Jesus. We must blame ourselves for not being open to the divine inspiration of the Holy Spirit and the change of mindset and lifestyle that may occur make once we encounter and understand the love of God.
In the following scripture (John 8:12-59), you can listen in on a heated conversation between Jesus and some determined-to-be-proven-right intellectuals and religious leaders. Their motive in engaging Jesus in a Q&A conversation was not to understand his answers but to invalidate his spiritual authority and to make him fit into their system of rules, regulations, and beliefs. Unless the people asking the questions were open to understanding what Jesus was actually saying, it was impossible for them to comprehend his answers. And so it is with us.
John 8:12 When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.”
13 The Pharisees challenged him, “Here you are, appearing as your own witness; your testimony is not valid.”
14 Jesus answered, “Even if I testify on my own behalf, my testimony is valid, for I know where I came from and where I am going. But you have no idea where I come from or where I am going. 15 You judge by human standards; I pass judgment on no one. 16 But if I do judge, my decisions are right, because I am not alone. I stand with the Father, who sent me. 17 In your own Law it is written that the testimony of two men is valid. 18I am one who testifies for myself; my other witness is the Father, who sent me.”
19 Then they asked him, “Where is your father?”
“You do not know me or my Father,” Jesus replied. “If you knew me, you would know my Father also.” 20 He spoke these words while teaching in the temple area near the place where the offerings were put. Yet no one seized him, because his time had not yet come.
21 Once more Jesus said to them, “I am going away, and you will look for me, and you will die in your sin. Where I go, you cannot come.”
22 This made the Jews ask, “Will he kill himself? Is that why he says, ‘Where I go, you cannot come’?”
23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. 24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be,[a] you will indeed die in your sins.”
25 “Who are you?” they asked.
“Just what I have been claiming all along,” Jesus replied. 26 “I have much to say in judgment of you. But he who sent me is reliable, and what I have heard from him I tell the world.”
27 They did not understand that he was telling them about his Father. 28 So Jesus said, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am the one I claim to be and that I do nothing on my own but speak just what the Father has taught me. 29 The one who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone, for I always do what pleases him.” 30 Even as he spoke, many put their faith in him.
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”
33 They answered him, “We are Abraham’s descendants and have never been slaves of anyone. How can you say that we shall be set free?”
34 Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, everyone who sins is a slave to sin. 35 Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever. 36 So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. 37 I know you are Abraham’s descendants. Yet you are ready to kill me, because you have no room for my word. 38 I am telling you what I have seen in the Father’s presence, and you do what you have heard from your father.”
39 “Abraham is our father,” they answered.
“If you were Abraham’s children,” said Jesus, “then you would do the things Abraham did. 40 As it is, you are determined to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. Abraham did not do such things. 41 You are doing the things your own father does.”
“We are not illegitimate children,” they protested. “The only Father we have is God himself.”
42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and now am here. I have not come on my own; but he sent me. 43 Why is my language not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. 44 You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 Yet because I tell the truth, you do not believe me! 46 Can any of you prove me guilty of sin? If I am telling the truth, why don’t you believe me? 47 He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.”
48 The Jews answered him, “Aren’t we right in saying that you are a Samaritan and demon-possessed?”
49 “I am not possessed by a demon,” said Jesus, “but I honor my Father and you dishonor me. 50 I am not seeking glory for myself; but there is one who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 tell you the truth, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”
52 At this the Jews exclaimed, “Now we know that you are demon-possessed! Abraham died and so did the prophets, yet you say that if anyone keeps your word, he will never taste death. 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham? He died, and so did the prophets. Who do you think you are?”
54 Jesus replied, “If I glorify myself, my glory means nothing. My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the one who glorifies me. 55 Though you do not know him, I know him. If I said I did not, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it and was glad.”
57 “You are not yet fifty years old,” the Jews said to him, “and you have seen Abraham!”
58 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus answered, “before Abraham was born, I am!” 59 At this, they picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus hid himself, slipping away from the temple grounds.
WATCH THIS 8-MINUTE VIDEO: Jesus Loves Us Outrageously, Music by Jonathon David Helser and Words by Graham Cooke
All scripture quoted in this article is from the New International Version (NIV) of the Bible.
Copyright Â© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society