Trying to decide whether or not something is legitimate is difficult to determine at times. I don’t know if any of you have experienced this or not but sometimes I receive letters via email from an individual or organization that claims to be legitimate. For example, a while ago I received a letter in the church’s email account supposedly from the IRS. The letter looked official. Of course, it said I owed some money, and to pay what I owed I needed to go to a certain website to do that. Immediately, a red light went off. Based on what I know, the IRS always sends such notices via the postal system, not via email. So I knew that the letter I had received via email wasn’t legitimate. But unfortunately, some people fall for the hoax because the letterhead appears to be official. As a result, they’re bilked out of some money. This happens all the time.
I’m sure we all get phone calls from time to time from people claiming to represent certain organizations. They sound legitimate but who really knows. It’s hard to make such an assessment.
I’m sure we get solicitations in the mail from organizations claiming to need funds to help the needy. Is it really true or not? How do I know if this organization directs the money it receives to the needy it claims to support? Is it a legitimate organization?
What about the legitimacy of some people? A clear example that comes to my mind are people who are supposedly in the construction business. We at Zion have gone on mission trips to various locations around the country to help those who had their homes severely damaged by storms. Some of these homeowners told us that they got ripped off by people who said they would repair their home and then ran off with the money; or, they did such a poor job that the work they did had to be redone. The homeowners originally thought these so-called construction workers were legitimate.
I think we get my point. It’s not easy to know if something is legitimate or not.
When Jesus began His ministry on earth, there were some who questioned whether or not Jesus was legitimate. Jesus had made the claim that He had been sent by God, but the religious leaders had doubts about Jesus’ claim. Was He God’s legitimate son or not? The religious leaders didn’t think so.
In our text, Jesus brings up John the Baptist. The religious leaders didn’t think that John the Baptist had been commissioned by God to preach a message of repentance and to baptize. In their eyes he wasn’t God’s legitimate servant. My guess is that the religious leaders didn’t acknowledge anyone sent by God if that person hadn’t come from their ranks. They didn’t want anyone to come along and usurp their authority.
However, Jesus certainly acknowledged John the Baptist as having been sent by God. That meant that John the Baptist was God’s legitimate servant. The religious leaders should have accepted this as well. Moreover, they should have believed Jesus, because He certainly performed many signs to prove that He was God’s Son. Jesus was God’s legitimate Son who came into the world to save humanity from its sins. He rose from the dead to give us life.
It amazes me that even after Jesus had risen from the dead, the religious authorities refused to believe that He was God’s legitimate Son. The proof was there. They refused to do their research because of their hard hearts.
When trying to determine if something is legitimate or not, don’t we do our research? If we don’t, we certainly should. Earlier I said that it can be difficult to determine if something is legitimate or not. Well, to take away that difficulty, we do our research, and investigate. We consult sources that may give us some insight as we make our determination.
When it comes to understanding who Jesus was, we do the same. We turn to the Bible for such information. However, not everyone does. That’s why we have such different views in our world as to who Jesus was. Not everyone regards Jesus as God’s legitimate Son. But we do because the Bible tells us so. And we know the Bible is God’s legitimate word because it says so and those who wrote it say so. All the authors of the Bible agree. Not one author contradicts the other. It’s amazing that over a 1500 year span—the time the entire Bible was written—the authors are in harmony with each other, even though they wrote their particular book at a different time in history. For example, Moses wrote his books around 1400 B.C. while Jeremiah wrote his book around 550 B.C. Yet they don’t contradict one another. They agree on the main theme of the Bible, which is salvation in God Almighty by His Messiah, Jesus Christ.
We don’t have to doubt the legitimacy of Jesus. He is the one who came to reconcile us with God the Father. He’s the real deal.
Before Jesus departed this earth to be with His Father in heaven, He told His disciples to preach the gospel throughout the world. That meant establishing communities of believers wherever they went. The apostle Paul is probably the most well-known for this. He established congregations in places like Greece and Turkey. By establishing congregations, the word of God could be taught to others. To this day, the church continues to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ and teach others about Him in direct obedience to Jesus’ command to do so.
But there are many today who don’t believe the church is God’s legitimate bride. Probably because they want to justify their not attending church. Many believe the church is a man-made institution, just as they believe the Bible is a book written by ordinary men. They fail to see God’s stamp of approval on the church and the Bible, which make them His legitimate instruments for conveying His salvation to people.
I wish people would do their research, delve into the facts. If they did, they would discover that the church was indeed established by Jesus, God Himself. Perhaps, they would have a greater respect for it, as well as for the Bible. They might change their lives.
The way it is now, many people do what’s right in their own eyes. If you ask them why they believe what they believe, they don’t know. It’s just what they think or how they feel. No rhyme or reason behind what they believe.
But that isn’t us. We believe that the church was established by God and therefore believe what it teaches about Jesus Christ and His salvation. The church is God’s legitimate bride. Just do the research.
There are many scams in our country today. They prey on the weak and vulnerable. But Jesus and His church are not a scam. They are legitimate. We don’t have to doubt any of this.
I warn us today about the scams out there. Be careful. However, we don’t have to worry about getting ripped off by Jesus. He is not a scam trying to take us for a ride. No, He is the Savior of the world who died and rose to give us an eternal future with Him, and is worthy of our praise and devotion.
I hope we will value the church as God’s instrument to proclaim the Gospel. Those who don’t will have to answer for their unbelief. The excuse "I didn’t know if Jesus and His church were legitimate or not" is unacceptable. There is proof which confirms that Jesus is the legitimate Son of God sent for our salvation and that the church is His legitimate instrument for reaching the lost and nurturing the souls under its care. Our belief in Jesus and acceptance of His church are not in vain.