“Is Jesus for real?”
“Was he really who he says he was?”
“How can I know that for sure?”
These are questions I’ve asked myself many times. These are questions I’ve heard youth and adults ask hundreds, maybe even thousands of times. Is there any way to know if this Jesus guy, this one who claimed to be the Son of God, was for real?
Interestingly enough, we’re not the first people to ask those questions. In fact, many of the people who saw and heard Jesus, many of the people who lived around him, and even many of the people who followed him day in and day out asked the same questions. “Is this guy for real?”
In John 7, Jesus has gone up to do some teaching in the Temple during the Jewish Festival of Tabernacles. The religious leaders are amazed at his teaching, and wonder out loud, “He’s never been taught! How has he mastered the Law?” Apparently, what he was saying was so good or so unique or so insightful that even the religious leaders were amazed. “How can this guy be for real?” they wonder.
That’s when Jesus says this:
“My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me. Anyone who chooses to do the will of God will find out whether my teaching comes from God or whether I speak on my own.”
In other words, Jesus says, “Trying to find out if I’m for real? Do what I say, follow God’s will as I’m teaching it, and then you’ll find out.” It’s almost like he’s saying, “I dare you to follow me.”
Following Jesus leads to believing Jesus is who he says he is, not the other way around.
How often do we mess up this order? Usually, I think I have to believe in Jesus in my heart and have everything about him figured out in my head before I’m ready to follow him. Then I get stuck in these long, internal, philosophical battles trying to figure out if Jesus is for real before I’m willing to commit my life to him. But Jesus reverses that order.
If you want to know if Jesus is for real, he says, choose to do God’s will and then you’ll find out if he’s from God or if he’s just making this up on his own. Too often I allow my doubt about Jesus keep me from making my life about Jesus. But he says with confidence that if you make your life about him, you’ll find out just how real he is.