Will the real Jesus please stand up?!

Today Kevin DeYoung summarized his message from this year’s Next Conference. In his message on the “Life of Christ” he includes a thought-provoking and sadly revealing list of Jesus makeovers found throughout the bulging corridors of American evangelicalism.  Some of the false Jesuses on his list include Republican Jesus, Democrat Jesus, Therapist Jesus, Starbucks Jesus, Open-Minded Jesus, Touchdown Jesus… Hippie Jesus, Yuppie Jesus, and on it goes. 

In place of these extrabiblical examples, DeYoung turns to the language of biblical promise and fulfillment to describe who Jesus is.  Instead of painting a velvet Elvis, fad Jesus to enforce any number of partisan policies, DeYoung simply turns to the Bible to say that the Messiah is

the Son of David and Abraham’s chosen seed, the one to deliver us from captivity, the goal of the Mosaic law, Yahweh in the flesh, the one to establish God’s reign and rule, the one to heal the sick, give sight to the blind, freedom to the prisoners and proclaim good news to the poor, the lamb of God come to take away the sins of the world…

He embodied the covenant, fulfilled the commandments, and reversed the curse. This Jesus is the Christ that God spoke of to the serpent, the Christ prefigured to Noah in the flood, the Christ promised to Abraham, the Christ prophesied through Balaam before the Moabites, the Christ guaranteed to Moses before he died, the Christ promised to David when he was king, the Christ revealed to Isaiah as a suffering servant, the Christ predicted through the prophets and prepared for through John the Baptist.

Reading this catena of descriptions, I was reminded of the simple fact that apart from the Bible in general and the Old Testament in particular, we cannot know Jesus as the Christ.  Just to name the name of Jesus is not enough.  Even to simply quote an isolated verse, “Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life,” may not be enough, if this verse is removed from its canonical context and antecedent meaning.  The question that has to be asked then is, “Which Jesus are you talking about?”

In a world of competing Jesuses, Kevin DeYoung calls us back to a biblical portrait of Jesus, so that we might not confuse Jesus the Christ with Jesus the brand name, Jesus the salesman, or Jesus the talisman.  May we endeavor more to know the Christ of the Bible and the Bible which all points to Christ.

Sola Deo Gloria, dss