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Is Jesus Too Good To Be True?

Is Jesus Too Good To Be True?

HIS UNWARRANTED BLESSINGS ARE TOO MUCH.

"THEN YOU WILL KNOW THE TRUTH, AND THE TRUTH WILL SET YOU FREE."  

JOHN 8:32

When’s the last time you got an email from that Nigerian prince? 

You know who I’m talking about—that fellow who’s trapped in this horrible situation… with all this money. Sadly, he can’t access his millions because of the terribly corrupt Nigerian government. BUT if you could just help him (he’s heard how kind and honest you are), then he could be free from this injustice. If you would just send him your routing and account numbers, he’ll wire the full amount to you. As a thank-you, he’ll leave a handsome couple million in your account when he’s done transferring the rest of his funds (not yours) out of your account. Wow. That’s it?! Think of all that free money! I know, it sounds too good to be true. And that’s because it is. The only true riches we’ve received from the Nigerian “prince” have come in the form of hilarious memes. And we have a saying that sums up this sort of scam: 

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  

THIS sentiment is exactly what I want to tackle today. So many of us can’t or won’t believe the good news about Jesus not because it isn’t good enough, but because it’s way too good, maybe too good to be true. We think, “No way is there some all-powerful, all-good, all-loving God who sees all of my shortcomings, sins, and selfishness and paid for it all with his perfect life. No way he offers me the riches of eternity not on the basis my rule-following and service, but simply because I believe in him. If that’s not too good to be true, I don’t know what is!” So, instead of believing this incredible claim, we’ve come up with a more likely scenario, “If there IS a God at all, if he knows all my junk, then I’m gonna really have to get my act together in order to make up for all my mess and earn a place in heaven.” It makes more sense to us that we’d have to earn this treasure. Or, maybe the treasure isn’t quite so much, maybe it’s just the treasure of some moral stories to help us behave better and cope with life. But this unwarranted, eternal treasure simply couldn’t be. The good news about Jesus is just too good.  

And this is precisely what the people in Jesus’s day struggled with. 

If you remember, last month we looked at John 6, just a few chapters before this month’s verse from John 8. In that passage, we find out that the people are looking for a king, but when they discover that Jesus is the King of the Universe, they actually stop following him. They want a right-now king on a gold throne, not an eternal King of everything. He’s just too much King for them, too good to be true (read that post here). Now we’re in chapter 8, and we run into the same problem. Jesus reveals to the religious leaders the full truth about who he is. But they can’t receive the whole truth, not because it isn’t good enough, but because it’s too good. Sure, they are looking for the messiah. And we see in verse 30 that some of them even believe that Jesus is the Messiah. But when Jesus reveals the full truth about himself, he is way too much Messiah, more than they bargained for, too good for them to believe.         

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ON THE PODCAST

Are you loving the new podcast format as much as we are!? Every month, Natalie Abbott uses the first week of the podcast to teach us about the context of our memory verse.  Listen in this week to learn about how this month's verse connects with last month's verse!

 

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The whole truth about Jesus. 

In John 8, Jesus is bent on revealing the whole truth about himself to the religious leaders. He tells them that his “testimony is true” and “he who sent [him] is true” and if they would hold to his teaching they’d “truly” be his disciples (John 8:14, 26, 31 ESV, emphasis mine). This brings us to our verse that says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” This truth, the whole truth about Jesus, is what can set them free from their sins. But like we discovered last week, the whole truth about Jesus is just too much for them to believe, it’s too good. Conversely, the truth he reveals about them is also way too bad for them to stomach (read about it here). To put it plainly, this is not the Messiah they expected. They weren’t looking for God in the flesh, here to free them from their spiritual slavery to sin and give them life. They just wanted a strong moral leader, a Messiah who would free them from their oppressors. They won’t believe Jesus is God, can’t believe they have sin they need to be freed from. And the sad irony is this, because the full truth about Jesus doesn’t match “their truth,” they choose to hold on tightly to their partial understanding and miss the full truth entirely.  

Is Jesus really too good to be true? 

What about us? Are we looking for less of Jesus? Wouldn’t it be easier if he were simply a good moral teacher, an example of right living? But just like those religious teachers and the crowd from chapter 6, Jesus doesn’t give us that option. He isn’t merely a king or human leader, and he isn’t just a good teacher. Those are partial truths. But the whole truth, the truth that sets us free is so much more. Jesus is God in-the-flesh come to set us free from sin and give us life forever with him. And if we are going to have any Jesus at all, we must have all of him. Any partial truth isn’t actually true at all, and it won’t set us free. It won’t satisfy. Unless we can believe the whole wondrous truth about Jesus, we’re believing a lie.   

It’s a lot.  

Let me level with you. When I first started reading the Bible, I assumed that Jesus was a good moral teacher. But the more I read, the more I realized  that he was claiming something so much more, something that sounded too good to be true. If I’m honest, his claims sounded a whole lot like those of our Nigerian prince friend. How could it be that the God of the universe would offer me such riches, at no cost to me? Surely, Jesus was too good to be true. But I couldn’t shake this nagging feeling that if I passed this offer by, it'd be like walking right past a hundred dollar bill for fear of feeling foolish if it were a fake. I mean, what if it were actually true? So, I kept reading and searching. And one day, Jesus opened my eyes to the brilliance of his whole truth. And I realized it was in fact too good. But it was also true.  

Still too good.  

Jesus is still too much, too good. As he continues to meet my wayward ways with unwarranted grace I am only ever more convinced that he is simply too good. His love is too much. His kindness too radical. This is the truth that still sets me free. Jesus frees me each and every day from proving myself, earning my own way, pursuing destructive desires, and hiding in my shame. Surely, he is too good and too true.

How can you live more like Jesus’s “too good” truth is true for you?

Thanks for reading,

Natalie Abbott Bio

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