About two decades ago, a book was published under this name. The concept was taken from a popular TV show that ran from 1957-1961, called To Tell the Truth, in which three people, two impersonators and the actual person, tried to convince a panel that they actually were the person in question. After lengthy questioning, the panelists finally voted and the emcee announced, “Will the real _______ stand up?” Often the revelation came with a gasp of unbelief from the panelists.
Will the real Jesus please stand up!? I’ve wanted to ask that question on so many occasions. I grew up with an image of Jesus as a soft-spoken person of prayer who never raised his voice or hurt anyone’s feelings . . . and then I read about him flipping tables over in the Temple and chasing out the money changers with a whip.
I hear how conservatives describe a Jesus who is on their side, protecting their way of life, raising the bar of morality and decency, but then I read how Jesus turned the conservative religious establishment on its head, challenging their status quo and upsetting those in power.
I hear how liberals claim Jesus as their own with his radical hospitality and inclusion, welcoming all people, placing no demands on anyone with his unconditional love, but then I read about Jesus’ call of transformation, challenging people to change and live a life that is like salt and light.
I hear how Jesus was apolitical and yet he was put to death as a political opponent to the State. I hear that he was deeply political and wanted to start a revolution, but I hear the words of Jesus saying that his Kingdom is not of this world.
Our Jewish friends will say that Jesus was merely a prophet. The Mormons will say that Jesus is the physical offspring of a father and mother god. And the unbeliever will claim that he never really existed, certainly not in the divine, miraculous manner described in the Bible.
Will the real Jesus please stand up!?
During August, we are going to have a sermon series called, “Finding Faith,” in which we will look at The Creed, The Lord’s Prayer, Communion, Baptism and The Ten Commandments. We will preach on one of those each Sunday of August and then on Mondays: August 5, 12, 19 and 26, we will meet at Carolina Ale House in Waverly from 7:30 to 9:00pm to ask the hard questions, like those panelists on “To Tell the Truth,” to figure out together which one of these Jesus’ is the real one.
And when the real Jesus stands, I’m expecting a gasp. He has always taken the world by surprise.
See you on Monday nights!