Hyatt International Ministries
Taking Spiritual Awakening & Biblical Thinking to the Nations
with Drs. Eddie & Susan Hyatt & Friends
How You Can Know Who the Real Jesus Really Is
Eddie L. Hyatt
Have you noticed how everyone is talking about Jesus; but that no one seems to talk about the same Jesus? For example, the New Age folk talk about a cosmic, spiritual Jesus; Oprah Winfrey talks about a Jesus that can be discovered within every person's consciousness; our Muslim friends talk about the Jesus in their Koran; the mystics talk about a Jesus they have encountered in a mystic state of contemplative prayer; black liberationists, like Rev. Jeremiah Wright, talk about a black revolutionary Jesus; many Americans have a portrait of a white, European Jesus in their homes; and the TV preachers (many of them, at least) talk about a Jesus who is compatible with their self-serving, monetary pursuits. In a recent, highly publicized revival, one of the teachers said to the audience, "I am Jesus, you have just never seen me in this form." She then informed the people that they too were Jesus and had them repeat after her, "I am Jesus."
This all reminds me of the old TV game show called “To Tell the Truth.” Each episode featured three guests all claiming to be the same person. Three celebrity contestants had the humorous task of identifying the one who was genuine. Each program would end with the host asking, "Will the real . . . please stand up." The real "John Doe" would then slowly rise to his feet while the two imposters remained seated.
In light of all the various revelations of Jesus, I suspect that someone has wanted to shout, “Will the real Jesus please stand up!”
The good news is, He already has! Jesus has made Himself known, and unless we get to know Him in the manner He has chosen to reveal Himself, we are vulnerable to being led astray by “another Jesus” as Paul warned in II Cor. 11:4 and Jesus in Matt. 24:4-5. The ultimate and only reliable revelation of Jesus is the one found in Scripture. Now, I know some will label me a biblicist or accuse me of bibliolatry, but they will have to put the same label on Jesus, Peter, Paul, and a host of others who have taught the same truth. Consider the following.
Martin Luther’s Vision of “Another Jesus”
Martin Luther found the revelation of Christ in Scripture to be the only protection against being led astray by another Jesus. For example, while in intense prayer one day, he suddenly saw a shining vision on the wall of Jesus, with the wounds of His passion, looking down upon him. At first Luther thought it was a heavenly vision, but changed his mind when he noted that the person in the vision was not compatible with the Christ he knew from Scripture. He said,
Therefore I spoke to the vision thus: “Begone you, confounded devil. I know no other Christ than He who was crucified, and who in His Word is presented unto me.” Whereupon the image vanished, clearly demonstrating from whom it came.
What Jesus Himself Said
Jesus taught His disciples that the most important revelation they could have of Him was the one in Scripture. For example, Luke 24:13-32 records one of His post resurrection appearances to two of His disciples as they walked the seven miles from Jerusalem to Emmaus. The two disciples did not recognize Jesus in His resurrection body and they shared with Him their sadness and disillusionment because the One they thought was the Messiah had just been crucified in Jerusalem.
Jesus responded by saying, Oh foolish ones and slow of hear to believe in all that the Prophets have spoken. The Jews of Jesus’ day referred to their Scriptures in various ways: “The Law and the Prophets,” “Moses and the Prophets,” and sometimes by simply, “the Prophets.” The reference here to the Prophets is a reference to the Old Testament Scriptures. In other words, Jesus tells them that the reason they are so disillusioned about what has just happened can be traced to the fact that they do not adequately know the Christ/Messiah of Scripture.
Luke then says, And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself (Luke 24:25-27). In other words, during this approximate two hour walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus Jesus spent the entire time taking these two disciples from Genesis to Malachi and showing them the Christ (Himself) in every book of the Old Testament.
Think of what He could have shared with them, but did not. He had just come out of the tomb where He had experienced the greatest demonstration of God’s power ever known. He had seen Satan’s grip on humanity completely broken. He had seen mighty angels at work rolling away the stone. But during this approximate two-hour walk from Jerusalem to Emmaus, He mentioned none of these things. Instead, He spent this entire time going through the Scriptures, making sure that they knew the Christ of Scripture. For Jesus, the most important revelation the disciples could have of Him was the revelation from Scripture. Have you seen Jesus in the Old Testament? Do you know the Christ of Scripture?
Paul’s Modus Operandi
Although Paul, at the time of his conversion, had a supernatural encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus, he too knew that the ultimate revelation of Jesus is the one in Scripture. In describing the beginning of Paul’s ministry in the synagogue in Thessalonica, Luke says,
Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead and saying, “This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ” (Acts 17:3-4).
Notice that “reasoning from the Scriptures” about the true identity of Jesus was Paul’s "custom," i.e., the normal way in which he carried out his ministry. The word “reasoned” is translated from the Greek word dialogomenous and means to dialogue, reason, or converse. Paul was so committed to helping people see the Christ of Scripture that he did not limit his ministry to a sermon or to presenting a lecture, but took on questions and challenges concerning His message of the Messiah as revealed in Scripture. This was his modus operandi, i.e., mode of operation. His goal was for them to know the Christ of Scripture.
From Thessalonica Paul and Silas traveled to Berea where they took the same approach of reasoning from the Scriptures that Jesus is the risen Messiah. In Berea they met a more fair-minded response than they had found in Thessalonica, where they had met with much opposition. Luke says, in Acts 17:11, that the Bereans, Received the word with all readiness and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether those things were so. Notice that the final determining factor in the Berean's decision was not how well Paul and Silas preached, or whether they felt goose bumps, or whether they saw miracles. The Berean's were commended by the Holy Spirit because they used Scripture as the final standard in judging the message of Paul and Silas.
Paul later traveled to Ephesus and, using this same approach of presenting Christ from the Scriptures, saw such a move of God that the economy of the city, which was based on idolatry, began to collapse. Luke sums up the success of his ministry in Ephesus by saying, So the word of the Lord grew mightily and prevailed (Acts 19:20). Paul discovered that the real power is in preaching the Christ of Scripture.
Paul had many supernatural experiences of God's power, but none of these became the basis of his preaching. In fact, most of them he never mentions in his letters. We only know of them because Luke included them in his historical account of early Christianity. Paul knew that the ultimate revelation of Jesus was the one found in Scripture and that God works powerfully through the proclamation of that Biblical message.
Peter’s Estimation of the Biblical Revelation of Jesus
Peter’s preaching about Jesus was based on the Old Testament Scriptures and his own personal, eyewitness experience. There is evidence, however, that he held the Biblical witness of Jesus to be even more reliable than His own personal experience. In II Peter 1:18-21, Peter mentions his experience with Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration when an audible voice spoke from heaven saying, “This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased.” Peter then says, And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to take heed as a light that shines in a dark place.
The prophetic word to which Peter alludes is the Old Testament Scriptures. The Old Testament is obviously the basis for Peter’s faith in Jesus as the Messiah, and the experience on the Mount of Transfiguration is merely a confirmation of the Scriptural testimony. Commenting on this passage, Dr. Wayne House in the Nelson Study Bible, says,
We have the prophetic word confirmed may be rephrased as “we have the prophetic word as a surer confirmation.” As strong as an eyewitness account (vv. 16-18) may be, there is an even stronger confirmation that Jesus is who He said He was. The written Scriptures are even more trustworthy than the personal experience of the apostle Peter. They cast a light that shines like a lamp in a dark place and will continue to do so until the morning star rises (see Rom. 13:12-14). In other words, the truths of the Bible will continue to point to the source of truth, Christ, until He comes in glory.[ii]
Many today are wishing the real Jesus would stand up. I have good news. He already has. The real Jesus is the Christ of Scripture. Get to know Him today and share Him with others!
[i] Martin Luther, Table Talk (Gainsville, FL: Logos-Bridge, 2004), 138-39.
[ii] H. Wayne House, NT editor, The Nelson Study Bible (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1997), 2131.