|Vol. 13 No. 12 December 2011||
Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor
In a recent conversation with a religious man in our community, the statement was made to me that “religious bodies do not matter; the main thing is that we are all Christians.” Although sincere and no doubt a “good” man, he is sadly mistaken. Unfortunately, this man misunderstands Christ and His church. As I thought about that, I realized that Christ has always been misunderstood by the majority of people.
Firstly, the majority misunderstood His miracles. When Jesus healed a man who was born blind and dumb, the Pharisees misunderstood the power behind His miracles (Matthew 12:22-24). They should have known, as did Nicodemus, that “no man can do these things except God be with him” (John 3:2). Many misunderstood the purpose behind His miracles as well (Matthew 12:38). As the entire account shows, the people were not interested in His message, but they were rather looking for a sideshow to attempt to criticize the Master. Sadly, people today still misunderstand miracles! Many have no idea that the purpose of miracles was for “confirming the Word” (Mark 16:20). Miracles were simply God’s way of bearing witness to the fact that Jesus was the Christ (John 20:30-31), and that the message preached was in fact from God. Miracles ended when revelation was complete (1 Corinthians 13:8-13; James 1:25).
Secondly, the majority of people misunderstood His mission. When Jesus was born in Bethlehem, Herod misunderstood and was certain that Jesus was a threat to Herod’s throne (Matthew 2:3). In addition, many Jews believed that the Messiah would deliver them from Roman rule (Luke 24:21; Acts 1:6). However, this was never the mission of the Master! Further still, many misunderstood when He spoke of raising the temple in three days (John 2:19-21). However, Jesus’ mission was clear and concise (Luke 19:10). Sadly, many today still misunderstand His mission. Many are looking and waiting for a so-called battle of Armageddon for Jesus to complete His mission. However, His mission has been completed for 2,000 years (1 Timothy 1:5; Acts 2:38ff)!
Thirdly, the majority of people misunderstood His monarchy. Many of the Jews of Jesus’ day considered Christianity to be just another “sect” of their religion (Acts 28:22). Some believed that Judaism mingled with Christianity would save the soul (cf. Acts 15). Sadly, as the Jews could not think of the church in any light except Judaism, the religious world today cannot think of the church except in light of denominationalism. People show a gross misunderstanding of the monarchy of Christ when they voice things like, “All churches belong to Christ; they are all part of His church.” However, Jesus never authorized such a mentality; in fact, He was strongly opposed to it (John 17:20-21; Matthew 16:18-19; Acts 2:36-47).
How sad that Jesus while on earth was misunderstood. Sadder still is the fact that many still misunderstand Him. May we each do as the noble Bereans did (Acts 17:11), and may we diligently seek to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17). Let us never be guilty of misunderstanding Christ!