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“Jesus, If ... ”

Just as in our earthly relationships, the condition of our relationship with God is often revealed by how we speak to Him and what we say about Him. Do we use His Name in vain? Do we pray irreverently? Do we bargain with God by saying, "Lord, if you ____, then I will ____"?

In the Bible, we find two very different attitudes toward the Lord Jesus. These attitudes were revealed by the statements and challenges that were brought to Him.

"If You Are the Christ"

No sooner had Jesus begun His public ministry than Satan tempted Him to manifest His power with the words "If Thou be the Son of God" and held out a promise of blessing with an unthinkable condition: "If Thou wilt fall down and worship me" (Matthew 4:1-11).

This challenge of Jesus' true identity continued at the end of His life, too. While He hung on the cross—about to atone for sin—he heard the cries of the leaders and passers-by saying: "Let Him save Himself, if He be the Christ," and "If Thou be the king of the Jews, save Thyself." Even the criminals who were being crucified alongside Jesus called out to Him, "If Thou be the Christ, save Thyself and us" (Matthew 27:44; Luke 23:35,37,39).

"If You Are Willing"

In sharp contrast with those who doubted stands the testimony of those who believed. One day, Jesus was approached by a man "full of leprosy" (Luke 5:12,13). We read that he cast himself down at Jesus' feet and said: "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean." Some in the crowd may have had a little spot of leprosy that they could hide from others; not this man—he was "full of leprosy" and owned up to his need of being healed. What was the outcome? Jesus said, "I will: be thou clean. And immediately the leprosy departed from him."

Always put your "if" in the right place. In the case of the man who wanted Christ to cast the dumb spirit out of his son, the father said, "If Thou canst do anything;" but the Lord answered him, "If thou canst believe." Christ straightened out the "if" and put it in the right place. —D.L. Moody

At another occasion, Jesus healed a woman who merely touched His clothes as He walked by. Her faith in the power of God had led her to say: "If I may touch but his clothes, I shall be whole" (Mark 5:25-34). Like the leper, she fully realized her need of healing and recognized the One who could provide it.

Not "If," But "When"

How is it with you? Are you still wondering if Jesus is for real? Are you afraid to put His claims to the test? Do you think that you can get by without Him, or that you can hide your sin from God?

One of the condemned criminals who watched Jesus and heard Him that day at Calvary was struck by the innocence of the Just One and proclaimed: "This man hath done nothing amiss." Then, with eyes of true faith that could look beyond the suffering of the cross and see the coming glory, he said: "Lord, remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom" (Luke 23:40-43). It was no longer "if" but "when"!

Someone has said: "If every living person knew what every departing soul discovers, everyone would be saved today!" There are no skeptics in hell. The Bible declares that: "Every knee shall bow … every tongue shall confess" (Romans 14:11,12; Philippians 2:9-11).

When you bow the knee to Christ is the all-important question. The time to turn to Him is now. Like the leper, recognize that you are lost in sin and in desperate need of help (Romans 3:23; 6:23); and, like the sick woman, reach out in faith to Jesus and He will save you (John 6:37).

God's Word says "If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved" (Romans 10:9).

—T. Don Johnson