The internet is teeming with memes such as this:
And those images are shared ad nauseum across all social media platforms, especially during political seasons.
I'm guilty. I found this particular image Instagram worthy because it fit in nicely with my take on the words of Jesus.
When we quote someone, be that MLK, the President, or Jesus, the responsible thing to do is make sure the context of that quote is represented accurately. We must also make sure it isn't half of the meaning intended. We all know this, as evidenced by how angry we get when someone twists our words or puts words in our mouths.
Now, if I am going to quote Jesus because of His authority on an issue, then I am recognizing His authority. Likewise, if I am quoting Jesus to expose the hypocrisy of someone across the political or religious aisle from me, I must remember, while they may yet be hypocrites, the judgement I give will be equal to that which I receive. Jesus did say that, in so many words...
So this man we quote, this moral teacher, this poet and prophet. This hippy, this iconoclast. This itinerant Jewish rabbi. This social justice warrior who didn't suffer the rich or the self-righteous gladly. This egalitarian, this raging temple cleanser. This radical revolutionary. This non-violent, non-white, homeless, healer of the sick, raiser of the dead. This refugee, this middle-eastern man. This Jesus, who is all of those things and more.
He claimed to be the forgiver of sins. Luke 7:48-49 "Then Jesus said to her, 'Your sins are forgiven'." And Luke 5:20-21, Mark 2:10. And by forgiving sins he reiterated to the masses the need for forgiveness, reiterated that sin separated them from God.
He claimed to pre-exist with God. John 17:5 "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began."
He claimed He would return again. Matthew 24:27-30 "So as the lightening comes from the east and flashes to the west, so will be the coming of the Son of Man... At that time the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and all the nations of the earth will mourn. They will see the Son of Man coming on the clouds of the sky, with power and great glory." And Matthew 25:31-32, Mark 14:61-62.
He claimed to be the only way to eternal life. He didn't just tell people how they could find everlasting life, or deepen their own life experience. He actually claimed to give eternal life himself. John 11:25 "Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die...'" And also: John 6:40, John 6:47, John 10:28-30
He claimed to be Savior, John 3:14-16. And the Messiah, John 4:26.
He claimed to be the Son of God, Matt 26:63-63. One with the Father, John 10:30. He even claimed to be God himself, John 8:58.
We will never all agree on every nuances of all the teachings of Jesus. But if we are to quote Him, if we are to claim the authority of His words, we must re-examine all He said, and who he claimed to be and then decide what the weight of those words reveal, what action we might be required to take.
Jesus loves us but He is not a puppet whose lips we flap subject to our whims and will. He is not a child to be silenced and sent to the corner, a dog to be muzzled and chained. He came to be servant of all but He is still King (Luke 23:1-3, John 18:36-37) and Lord (Luke 2:11). He is not a mouthpiece for our religious or political platform. Jesus stands alone as the Truth, the only truth. He, himself, claimed that, "I am the way, the truth, and the life." He goes on to say in that same audacious, and if true, universe-shaking statement, "No one comes to the Father except through me." John 14:16.
Jesus is the social justice revolutionary we all want, and He is the door to heaven, the way home, the redeemer and saver of our souls we so desperately need. If we would only believe.
Jesus. In His own words.