Carnival caricatures overemphasize prominent features, like the size of my nose or some else’s ears. Sadly, some do this to Jesus. While a few focus on Jesus as Judge, most emphasize His grace to the point that He stands for nothing and accepts everything.
Jesus’s true portrait looks a great deal more complex, including at least the following four aspects of the God-Man:
Through sinning, we sold ourselves into bondage to Satan and sin. That renders us broken, undone, and incapable of buying ourselves out of slavery. Jesus came as our Redeemer, buying us back from sin, forgiving our transgressions, and delivering us from bondage (Gal. 4:5).
Redemption is just the beginning. Jesus did not save us to leave us the same in heart and lifestyle. Rather, Jesus is also our restorer, developing in us a different and better way of life (Rom. 6:1-4), moving us to be more like Him (Rom. 8:29,30). This involves our participation, of course (Rom. 1:5; 16:26), but without His grace and truth, we could not grow more like Him.
Our sins separate us from God (Rom. 3:10,23; Isa. 53:1,2) — and from others (Eph. 2:11-22). Jesus reconciles us both to God and others who are in Christ (Eph. 2:19-22). As His body/church, we live in fellowship with Him and fellow disciples. We find unity! We possess purpose!
From one angle this world is ruled by sin and death with Satan as “the god of this world” (2 Cor. 4:4). But that is neither the whole nor final story, for “The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8). Jesus will one day return to deliver us from this world, giving us resurrection and heaven (Rom. 5:12; 8:2,29,30).
Making a caricature of Jesus hides the real story: Jesus came to redeem, restore, reconcile, and rescue. No one of these tells the whole story, but together these show us the beauty of God who is “full of grace and truth” (John 1:14-18). See Him for who He is; serve Him with all you are.
by Shane Carrington