Will the Real Jesus Please Stand Up?
by James R. Aist
One day God, seated on his throne in heaven, was looking quite troubled, so his Son, Jesus, who was seated at his right hand, asked him, “What’s wrong, Father?” God replied, “Son, there are so many different ideas among humans about who you are. How can we get it across to everyone who you really are?” Jesus thought for a moment and then said, “Do you remember that popular old TV show “To Tell the Truth”? You know, the one where they assembled a panel of people who all claimed they were a particular person, but they are all imposters except for the real person, who is also on the panel. Then they each gave their own short, verbal account of the real person, after which the MC said “Will the real person please stand up?” “Oh yeah”, said God, “I loved that show, except for the part where most of the panel lied about their true identity.” Jesus said “Great. So let’s arrange for a one-time retro production of that TV show and ask “Will the real Jesus please stand up?” “That way everyone will find out who the real me is.” Well, God liked the idea, so he said “Let there be a retro “To Tell the Truth” TV show, and there was.
When the day came for the show to air, the panel was assembled, but God, in his infinite wisdom, decided to have Jesus seated in the studio audience rather than with the panel. He was sure that no one would recognize him there and blow his cover, since so few people seem to recognize the real Jesus any more. Moreover, God had hand-picked the Holy Spirit to be the MC, for the same reason. The Holy Spirit, grudgingly, introduced the entire panel as representing the world-famous Savior of the World, Jesus Christ, and each panel member presented a short, verbal account which they felt summed up what Jesus was all about, hoping that the audience would believe them. Here is a transcript of what followed:
Imposter # 1 – “I am, truly, the savior of the world, and I do mean all of the world, or at least those who profess to believe in some kind of “god”; it really doesn’t matter which one. Everyone who tries to live a good life, whether or not they have heard of me, whether they believe in me or not, whatever religion they belong to — as long as they try to live by whatever light they have — they will be in heaven with me after they die. My only mistake was telling everyone that no one comes to the Father except through me. Fact is, there are many paths to God, not just through me. The Good News of Jesus Christ is inclusive, not exclusive, as others would have you believe. Why would I set the bar so high that only a few could qualify? My purpose in coming into the world was only to provide everyone a perfect example of godly living, so that they could save themselves by trying to live like I did. I don’t know where they got the idea that I died for their sins; only a fool would do such a thing. Moreover, I think you will find that it is much easier to be liked by others if you ascribe to my way of thinking, and so you will feel better about yourself. The fact that millions, perhaps billions, of people from all over the world have seen my light and are following my plan is proof that I am, indeed, Jesus Christ, the savior of the world.”
Imposter # 2 – “It was I who went about doing good, healing the sick, raising the dead and restoring sight to the blind. This is how I proved how much I love everyone and that I am God’s only begotten Son. And because of my great love and compassion for all of mankind, you will never hear me offend anyone by speaking harshly to them, calling them names, calling out their sins, or – heaven forbid – resorting to violence of any kind just because they are trying to make a living in the temple of God by tipping the scales a bit. But I digress. I came into the world to make everyone feel good about themselves the way they are, not to encourage and enable them to change. What a cruel guilt trip that would be! Nevertheless, it is my hope that no one will perish, but that all will, instead, come to repentance. However, you and I both know that most people are not willing to repent, even though many of them say that they believe in me. I don’t know where they got the idea that not everyone who says to me “Lord, Lord” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father. That’s harsh! After all, my love does cover a multitude of sins, doesn’t it? And isn’t it true that the only work that God requires is that you believe in the One whom he sent (that would be me, of course)? Therefore, I have dismissed the requirement for repentance and have established dispensations for anyone who is unwilling to repent and turn away from their sins because, for whatever reason, they simply refuse to change. It’s amazing how many have chosen to take me up on this offer and are expecting to go to heaven without repenting! My salvation is now available to virtually everyone, no matter how they are living. Now that’s what I call a real savior, don’t you agree?”
Imposter # 3 – “Well, you don’t really believe that a loving God would condemn anyone to hell, do you? Where’s the love in that? Isn’t it true that God actually IS love? I don’t know where you got the idea that you have to become the righteousness of God in Christ in order to “qualify” for heaven. If we are all made in God’s image, doesn’t it follow, logically, that he would want us all to enjoy our eternity in heaven with him? So, I am here to save you from the lifetime of anxiety and terror that comes from believing that God would ever harm someone, such as yourself, who represents the very pinnacle of his creative work. Believe me, you need a savior alright, but not one who will save you from your sins. God knew that sin would come into the world when he created mankind, and yet he went ahead with it? So, if anyone is at fault here, it’s God, right? The only way God can resolve this dilemma fairly is to let everyone into heaven. So, you see, I have come to save you from all that unnecessary mental anguish and dread of future damnation that others speak about. Isn’t that the kind of “savior” you would really rather have, one who doesn’t think he has to scare the hell out of you just so you won’t go there when you die? I think you’ll agree that my “salvation” is the easiest, most care-free and most pleasant way to live, in order to spend your eternity with God when you die. After all, can my millions and millions of faithful followers possibly be wrong?”
By this time, the Holy Spirit had heard enough, and since all three panelists had spoken, he declared an end to the process by saying “Now it is time to find out which one of these three men is the real Jesus. So, will the real Jesus please stand up?” After a lengthy pause, during which none of the panelists stood to his feet, everyone was puzzled, because they expected one of the panelists, the real Jesus, to stand up. Then the Holy Spirit again said “Will the real Jesus please stand up?” After a brief pause, a man near the middle of the audience rose slowly to his feet and began to speak with great power and authority, so that those who heard him were in awe:
“Why do you mock and slander me like this, after all I’ve done for you? You pick and choose my attributes, actions, words and accomplishments recorded in the Bible to fit the image of a Jesus who is no more than a figment of your imagination. You have been warned about following after “another Jesus” (2 Corinthians 11:4), and still you insult and offend me by creating a counterfeit Jesus to suit your abominable heresies and lifestyles. I am the real Jesus, the Son of the living God (Matthew 16:16). I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 21:6). Before Abraham was born, I am (John 8:58). I am the Word of God (John 1:14); his Word is truth (John 17:17). Because the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), and because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), I came into the world that the world through me might be saved (John 3:16-17). I am the one who died for your sins so that you don’t have to pay the penalty for them (Hebrews 9:15). I am the way, the truth and the life; no man comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to destruction (Proverbs 14:12). God does not will that any man should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9). I came preaching “Repent and believe the good news” (Mark 1:15). Unless a man repent, he will perish (Luke 13:1-5). Do not fear men, who can harm your body, but fear the One who can throw both body and soul into hell (Luke 12:5). I am the judge of all mankind (Acts 10:42). Those who believe in me and obey my commands will be made the righteousness of God in Christ and will inherit eternal life with God in heaven, but those who do not will be thrown into the lake of fire with the devil, which is the second death (Revelation 20:14-15), where there will be eternal weeping and gnashing of teeth (Matthew 13:50). God is love (1 John 4:8), and he is also righteous and just (Psalm 50:6). He will reward the righteous and punish the unjust (Matthew 25:32-46). No one can resist the will of God (Romans 9:19), and there will be no excuse for the unbeliever (Romans 1:20). Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand (Matthew 4:17).
At that, those in both the studio audience and the TV audience to whom God had given eyes to see and ears to hear, recognized and believed in the real Jesus, fell to their knees, repented of their sins and were saved. Most of them, however, put their faith and their eternal destiny in the hands of one or the other of the imposters, thus sealing their ultimate fate with the devil and his angels in the lake of fire. All went to bed that night confident that they had made the right choice.
Now Jesus returned to his seat at the right hand of God his Father in heaven, and, turning to his Father, asked “Well, what do you think, Father? Did it work?” “It worked perfectly, Son,” said his Father. “Everyone will reap what he has sown (Galatians 6:7), and we did everything we could to reach out to them all (Romans 5:8). It breaks my heart to see so many headed in the wrong direction, but my offer was open to everyone who would believe (John 6:40). At least now they know that “the real Jesus” is everything that my Word says you are, and said, and did; not just the “feel good” things that they wanted to believe about you to justify their sinful ways.” “So then”, Jesus asked, “Do you feel better now?” His Father paused for a moment and then replied, “Yes, and no.”
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