Of all the questions leveled against Christianity, few others cause such heated controversy: “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” For many people, Jesus’ words equate exclusivity with arrogance:
I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me. —John 14:6
The exclusivity of those words is unmistakable. Millions question: “How can Jesus be the only way to God? That’s not fair. It leaves out too many people.”
But if you think about it, the real question isn’t, “Is Jesus the Only Way to God?” but rather we should ask, “Is God holy”?
Here’s why that’s the real issue.
The annual holiday Yom Kippur begins this evening. It always reminds me of a surprising conversation I had in Jerusalem at the Western Wall. A Jewish woman approached me and engaged me in a talk.
She somehow knew my affiliation with a radio ministry and told me we needed to broadcast to the nations God’s way to be saved. I told her that was, in fact, our passion.
She smiled and shook her head no.
Then she shared with me a list of things all Gentiles need to do in order for God to accept them. I recognized some of the standards as being from the Ten Commandments, and I told her so. Again, she smiled and shook her head.
“Those commandments are for the Jews,” she said.
“Do you keep them?” I asked.
I’ve noticed an unsettling habit in my life. Whenever I find myself with a free moment, I feel compelled to fill it with something productive.
Because I hate to waste time, I fill it with activity and justify it as productivity. But I’m learning that constant movement doesn’t represent efficiency.
It could, moreover, represent just the opposite.
As with every other part of the human experience, Jesus remains our model of efficiency. But His life—even before the cross—was no easy walk:
- The demands on Him were constant.
- The needs He faced were overwhelming.
- The expectations He encountered were unrealistic.
No person was ever more qualified to do it all, and yet Jesus took life in the fast lane in stride.
What was His secret?
Sometimes it seems no one understands what we’re going through. When people fail us, or forget us, or occasionally even forsake us, we’re left alone in the ashes of a reality we never expected—and we certainly never wanted.
In those intense moments of loneliness, confusion, and pain, we ask God for one thing more than anything else. Relief.
(Photo by Alexander Shustov via ooomf)
But when relief is denied, we begin the difficult journey of resisting the notion that God is a cruel sovereign who toys with our lives. After all, He could stop it all in moment.
After everything else but God gets stripped away from our lives, we begin realize that the Lord may want to give us something more—and much greater—than relief.
In those moments, God becomes more real to us than we ever would have known any other way.
Remember the day you left home? For some of us, that day was when we took off for college. For others, it was to take a job. We all had reasons, and we were gone.
When you left home, some things immediately changed. No longer did you have to be home at a certain time each night. If you wanted pizza ten times a week, you had it. Freedoms increased.
(Photo by John Eckert via oomf)
But there were also some things that didn’t change.
- The speed limit was still 55 mph.
- You still had to brush your teeth.
- Right and wrong was still right and wrong.
It’s interesting that in all the changes we experienced, neither our parents nor we had changed. Only the situation changed.
In a similar way, God has managed the world differently at different times. Some things never change with God.
But some do.
For most Christian pilgrims to the Holy Land, Jerusalem is the climax of their journey. After all, the redemption of the universe occurred there. History knows no more significant city.
In my previous post, I shared 5 Christian sites in Jerusalem you should know about—including the Mount of Olives, the Pools of Bethesda, and the Pool of Siloam.
(Photo: Jerusalem’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher)
With very few exceptions, we can’t stand on a square foot of ground and claim, “Jesus walked here.” But we can point to areas where biblical history aligns with the geography of Jesus.
Let’s add 5 more Christian sites to the previous list. These are sites in Jerusalem associated with Jesus’ death and resurrection.
Jerusalem is famous for the standard sites tourists visit. The Western Wall, the Temple Mount, the Holocaust Museum, and the Israel Museum top the list of many visitors to Jerusalem.
Pilgrims, sightseers, and worshippers from three major religions journey to the Holy City every year. Because Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, all see Jerusalem as a Holy City, it’s tough to designate many of the Christian sites in Jerusalem as distinctly Christian.
After all, Christianity has its roots in the faith of the ancient Hebrews. Jesus was a Jew, and so, many Jewish sites are therefore also connected to Christianity.
Even still, I have selected ten Christian sites in Jerusalem that have a direct, historical connection to the ministry of Jesus.
In this post, I’ll share with you the first five of these Christian sites in Jerusalem.
As worriers, we often place more value on possibilities than certainties.
We’ll invest plenty of money to insure ourselves against theft, flood, fire, sickness, or accident—all only possibilities. But we give little thought to the most certain event in our lives.
Death. Even life insurance doesn’t cover that.
I believe in insurance. I pay for it, consider it prudent, and enjoy its benefits. In a way, my blog distributes spiritual insurance in bulk.
- I explain people’s options and risks regarding the events following death.
- I do my best to warn them of buying into cheap insurance that looks good up front but raises its premiums exorbitantly and reneges on paying the final benefits of their claim.
Such shams offer heaven for the price of good deeds.
Only God offers the best insurance for the most certain event in your life.
Most Americans find it difficult to identify with the Jews who rock before the Western Wall in Jerusalem. I know I did at first.
It seemed, well, just . . . odd.
Then I thought about my traditions. Are they any less bizarre?
Oddness just comes in different flavors. They’re called “traditions.”
- Jews pray with their heads covered; we take our hats off.
- Their prayers are public and loud and showy; ours are private and quiet and restrained.
- They rock back and forth and mumble from a book; we bow our heads, close our eyes and utter unrehearsed words.
It’s easy in the familiarity of our own traditions to shake our fingers at the oddities of others. Jews pray while rocking, Muslims kneel with their bottoms in the air, and Christians bow our heads and close our eyes.
Blend any tradition—bowing, standing, prostrating, rocking, kneeling or jumping—with no personal relationship with the true God, and it’s totally pointless.
Maybe we Christians should open our eyes during prayer for a change.
It must have seemed really strange. Honestly, it still does.
Two thousand years of waiting for the Messiah, and He is born in a barn and laid in a feed trough.
If it had been up to us, we would have given God’s Son a room in the finest five-star hotel in Bethlehem. But Jesus got only a one-star motel—and God had to provide the star!
When the shepherds hurried into Bethlehem to find the baby of whom the angels spoke, the wonder of God’s power must have seemed a strange contradiction to the conditions they found.
- No halos hovered over Joseph, Mary, and Jesus.
- Instead, they saw a poor couple surrounded by animals and the smell of manure.
Actually, the crudity of Jesus’ birth story offers really good news.
Because it had you in mind.