By Larry Ray Hafley
I am thankful that I live in a country where one is free to make a movie like The Last Temptation Of Christ. I regret, though, that I live in a country where anyone would want to do so. No, I have not seen the movie. No, I do not intend to do so. And, yes, I am aware of what the Bible says about answering a thing before you hear it. But this is not a review of that movie.
According to the media, the film presents Jesus as uncertain about his mission and ministry. If that report is true, nothing could be further from the truth. No man was ever more sure and certain about himself than was the Son of God. He was the master of every situation, the winner of every confrontation. He spoke and taught with boldness. He never wavered, never hesitated, never skirted an issue, never dodged a question. But what is greater than that is the fact that his directness, his frankness, never entangled him in greater difficulties. I might act decisively and speak positively in all cases, but at times my plunging head-long into hard questions gets me into more trouble than I am able to get out of. Not so with the Lord. When he answered questions that were deliberately designed to bait him into an intemperate utterance, he never made matters worse. Rather, “And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions” (Matt. 22:46).
One may not believe or agree with Jesus’ testimony about himself, but there is never the slightest doubt of the Savior’s assurance and confidence.
Certain In His Person
Jesus was conscious and confident of who he was. He declared himself to be greater than the temple, greater than Jonah, greater than Solomon (Matt. 12:6,41,42). He said he existed before Abraham (Jn. 8:58). He said he came from heaven and that he was not of this world as men are (Jn. 6:62; 8:23).
Those claims make him either a liar, a lunatic or the Lord. But regardless of your conclusion, Jesus was not uncertain about himself. He did not deny that he was greater than Jacob (Jn. 4:12). He did not retreat when he was charged with making himself equal with God (Jn. 5:18). In fact, he claimed equality with the Father in action, power, judgment, honor and reconciliation (Jn. 5:19-26). Men may fabricate a weak, uncertain Savior, but their creation is not akin to the “author of eternal salvation,” Jesus the Christ.
Certain In His Purpose
Jesus knew what he was to do, and he never swerved from the accomplishing of his mission and ministry of mercy. “I came not to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance” (Lk. 5:32). “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 19:10). “I came not to judge the world, but to save the world” (Jn. 12:47). A few days before the agony of the cross, he said, “Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour; but for this cause came I unto this hour” (Jn. 12:27). Jesus knew. Jesus never doubted. Jesus never questioned why he came to this earth. He was always aware, always certain.
No soldier wants to follow a general who is uncertain. No patient wants to allow a surgeon to operate if the doctor is uncertain. No football team wants to be led by a tentative coach or quarterback. Angelic armies and heavenly hosts are led by the certain Savior, the captain of our salvation. He did not quiver; he did not shiver in fear or doubt of his ultimate purpose. We can, therefore, follow him in battle against spiritual wickedness, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against the imps of the hadean realm. Finally, when our feet enter the chilly waters of Jordan, we may confidently say with David of old, “Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; they rod and thy staff they comfort me” (Psa. 23:4).
Certain In His Power
Jesus never hesitated when power and authority were needed. When the disciples awoke him during a storm at sea, he rebuked them for their lack of faith and immediately calmed the wind and the sea (Matt. 8:23-27). When he was challenged regarding his authority to forgive sins, he responded with power and silenced his critics (Matt. 9:2-8). These are not the actions of a man who is uncertain about his power and authority.
When questioned about issues and events beyond the knowledge of men, Jesus responded with insight and Scripture (Matt. 22:23-33). He did not have to say, “Well, I think, ” or “My opinion is,” or “Perhaps, it will be,” or “Probably, it will be like this.” No, he never resorted to conjecture. Jesus did not simply offer “a reasonable hypothesis.” He simply told how it would be. As a result, “The people were astonished at his doctrine: For he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes” (Matt. 7:28,29).
Jesus spoke of his death (Matt. 16:21; 17:22,23). If someone kills me, my efforts are over, but Jesus did not convey the idea that his death would be the end. In conjunction with the prophecy of Isaiah (Isa. 53:10-12), Jesus knew that his death was his greatest victory and the defeat of the devil’s kingdom of darkness (Lk. 24:19-27; 2 Tim. 1: 10; Heb. 2:14,15). He, was certain of his power over death, hell and the grave.
Therefore, do not believe men who would corrupt the person, purpose and power of the great God and our Savior, Jesus Christ. Do not allow the devil to deceive you about the Divine certainty and the eternal verity of the Son of God. Men of self-doubt and personal skepticism do not say, “I am the light of the world,” or, “I am the bread of life,” or “I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” So, you can serve the certain Savior, the resolute Redeemer, with boldness and confidence. Let no man deceive you by falsely portraying a Jesus of weakness and fear. It is a lie of the devil. You can be certain of that, too.
Guardian of Truth XXXII: 20, pp. 624, 631
October 20, 1988