The terms ‘Jesus’ and ‘Christ’ make interesting study. There is nothing sacrosanct about the name, Jesus. But Christ, which is a title; should be treated just as sacrosanct as ‘Lord’ is sacrosanct in religious terms. All confusion in Christianity emanates from failure to distinguish the difference between Jesus and Christ.
In these two terms, Jesus and Christ, reside the extreme opposites. They are represented as in relationship between servant and King. Those accepting Christianity are tripped on the name of Jesus, whose term is associated with servant-hood.
“And a ruler asked him, ‘Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone’” (Luke 18:18-19) (ESV).
Apparently, that ruler sought to accord Jesus with befitting respect, though oblivious of Jesus being also God. The response by Jesus corrects the wrongness, as that ruler had categorized Jesus as one of the Rabbis of that time, due to His unequaled service.
Jesus is, therefore, not invalidating the fact that He (Jesus) was good master. But Jesus sought to address the wrong impression that, generally, most people held; as commonly showing respect to those with extraordinary achievements.
Even today, people are categorized by ranks. Others hold titles that distinguish them as better than others. But, that is the pattern of this world, which is different from the teachings of Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus taught His disciples to appreciate that the greatest among them ought to have been regarded as the least (Luke 22:26).
This teaching was foreign to the common understanding among the people of that time, in Jerusalem and the surrounding areas. The teaching is still foreign among most people, even today. However, Jesus’ teaching was also advanced by Paul, who declared:
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:3-5) (ESV).
Generally, it is not possible for a great man to humble himself, when conscious of his great achievements. Also, it may be difficult for a person who serves, to accept the due accolades in humility. Here is an interesting question: Was Jesus highly regarded when He walked on earth?
Those who benefited immensely from Jesus’ healing abilities appear as having had high regard for Jesus. But the truth was revealed during His traumatic experiences on the cross. Only a handful remained committed to Jesus. Peter had to deny Jesus three times. When considering the verdict by the majority, even the most notorious criminal, Barabbas, was adjudged as better than Jesus.
In His human capacity, Jesus took the role of slave, carrying the sinful burdens of all humanity. There was nothing sacrosanct about a man who bore all our sins. But there was something special about the man of sorrows, as the prophet Isaiah accurately recorded (Isaiah 53:3).
The rejection of Jesus was real. What was done to Him could not be done to anyone deserving to be accorded with the esteem of being ‘good Master’. How different is the behavior of those who assume positions of authority, as compared with those who actually crucified Jesus and spat Him on His face?
Scriptures reveal that Jesus was one hundred percent human and one hundred percent God. In His human form, Jesus was treated badly and could hardly be accorded any respect. In that condition, He represented us all, showing us the only way towards salvation. The first shall be last, and the last shall be first.
But there was something that was not visible about the man called Jesus. He was the Christ whose human aspect served to deliver humanity from their sins. As long as they believed and appreciated His service, including everything that He taught.
Empirically, believing in Jesus means appreciating that there is no Lordship in being Jesus, but the principle of humility. This is where most Christians fail, due to inability to separate between Jesus and Christ. The invisible part of Jesus was Lord, the Christ. The Lord and Christ aspect could not be easily accessed by ordinary humans, except through the human Jesus. God remains sovereign and inaccessible by ordinary humans, except through Jesus.
The inability to appreciate the difference between the two is what misleads ordinary Christians, failing to worship Him in spirit and in truth. They seek to idolize the man Jesus and His cross, thereby missing the Christ who is the Lord in the spirit. It is not possible for the old person to accept this reality. Only those who have died and resurrected anew will find Christianity making sense.
The drama of miracles and charismatic preaching may still not be the answer in accessing the empirical reality of the man of sorrows, as prophesied (Isaiah 53:3). Jesus was not an ordinary man, because He was associated with the most despicable position of servant-hood in society, yet without sin.
His invitation to those who desire to be His followers, include the surrender of all glory this world offers. Having died, there is no way of continuing to enjoy the comfort and pleasures of sin, except to serve the Lord, and Him alone. One cannot be the follower of Jesus, and at the same time enjoying the glory, associated with the titles that most, in religious world, endeavor to obtain.
Jesus the servant and Christ the Lord make one unit—Jesus Christ. Only Jesus identifies with humanity and needs to be emulated in His service to humanity. The invitation is extended to all and sundry, but counting the costs implies appreciating the principle of servant-hood, in the way that Jesus applied it. The good promises are as certain as the rising sun tomorrow.
Andrew Masuku is the author of Dimensions of a New Civilization, laying down standards for uplifting Zimbabwe from current state of economic depression into a model for other nations worldwide. A decaying tree provides an opportunity for a blossoming sprout. Written from a Christian perspective, the book is a product of inspiration, bringing reliefs to those having witnessed strings of unworkable solutions––leading to the current economic and social decay. In a simple conversational tone, most Zimbabweans should find the book as a long awaited providential oasis of hope.
The Print copy is now available at Amazon.com for $13.99