By Rex Major
Senior Pastor Emeritus Grace Community Church
During this time of the year, we pause to commemorate that very historic moment-the coming of our saviour into human history.
On Tuesday night, December 17, 2002, my daughter Jade, urged me to tune in to the Phil Donahue show on the MSNBC TV channel.
The very lively discussion was built around the theme, “Do we have to go to Jesus in order to get to heaven,” or in broader terms, “How does one get to heaven?” The live panel consisted of a Jewish Rabbi from New York (himself a radio talk show host); Dr. Michael Johnson, a church leader; Dr. Al Mohler, President of the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; and Dr. Joe Hough, President of Union Theological Seminary, Virginia.
The most glaring implication that resulted from this one-hour discussion, during which callers also shared their views. is that despite two thousand years of preaching and teaching the good news of Jesus Christ, confusion still reigns. It was encouraging though, that at least two of the panelists, held tenaciously to the biblical claims of Jesus Christ as the only lord and saviour.
First Century Poll
As in Jesus’ own day, there is no consensus regarding his true identity and the real purpose of his life and mission to earth. In that era, Jesus himself inquired as to how he was being viewed by the people. His twelve disciples shared with him the most popular views held by the people. In their evaluation, they said to him: “Some say you are John the Baptist, some say you are Elijah; others say you are Jeremiah, while still others say that you are one of the prophets.” Jesus then inquired of them: “Whom do you say that I am?” Speaking, as he normally did for the group, Simon Peter blurts out with loud assurance: “You? You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” (Matthew 16: 13-16)
We must all grapple with these pivotal questions: Who is Jesus? And why did he come into the world?
The Mission Of Jesus Explained
At the very beginning of his earthly mission – at his birth, in fact – these questions were answered very precisely. The announcing angel prophesied to Joseph, “His name shall be called Jesus (Saviour) for he will save his people from their sins.” (Mt.1:21)
Thus, Jesus Christ is introduced immediately as the Saviour. The angels’ message to the bewildered shepherds reiterated the same truth: “Do not be afraid! Listen, I bring you glorious news of great joy, which is for all the people. This very day, in David’s town, a Saviour has been born to you. He is Christ, the Lord!” (Luke 2:10, J.B Phillips Translation). When Jesus began his preaching he left no stone uncovered to make the purpose of his mission to earth very clear.
How troubling, then that as the discussion that Phil Donahue had with these influential religious leaders so glaringly revealed, many people are yet not certain about Jesus Christ, his person nor his purpose.
Bahamians Are Inexcusable
One thing is certain, no Bahamian should be among that number because for us true witnesses have been too many, and the consistent evidence far too convincing.
Listening to that television discussion, I concluded that the Jewish Rabbi, seemed the one most to be pitied, when he said that all persons from all religious perspectives, can eventually find their way to God – even if in the process they disregard the peculiar claims of Jesus Christ.
As we listen to and join in the singing of the carols, the reading of the Biblical story, and as we unite with friends and family during the traditional Christmas church service, let us give a fuller attention to this matter.
During this season, settle the Jesus issue in your heart. It is both imperative and urgent.