Jesus & Fake News, part 2

Taking a look again at The Triumphal Entry, of Jesus into Jerusalem, who did these people in this set of verses say Jesus is? Well, they said more than “This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.” This is from Jesus.org:

His coming in this manner had been revealed prophetically in the Old Testament: Zechariah had told of the King’s coming on the colt of a donkey so that Israel would recognize Him. From Daniel, the exact time of the Messiah’s arrival can be calculated. Psalms announced the meaning of Christ’s arrival, which the crowd realized in their shouts: “Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord”

This event also fulfilled Jesus’s promise that He would not return to Jerusalem until such time as the citizens would say those very words. (Luke 13:31-35).

While many cheered His arrival, He did not live up to what they had expected—someone who ushered in a kingdom on earth. Instead, He called the people to the Kingdom of God. Do you see that not much has changed today? Jesus is still often viewed one way by our culture who expects him to be one thing, but they don’t fully see or understand him as who He really is.

I spoke yesterday on the idea of changing views on history and the Bible, I remember around the year 2000, it seemed at Christmas and Easter all the news programs and magazine covers had something about Jesus. Do you remember that? It was the 2000th anniversary of the birth of Christ after all. There were also two or three television dramas about Jesus at the time, and one for children.

About two years later, I got a job working at Barnes and Noble in Big Flats. For a couple of years “The DaVinci Code” was the number one best-selling novel, and is still considered one of the best-selling novels of all time. It depicted an alternative history of Jesus taught as fact; it taught an alternative history of Christianity during the early church age and an alternate history of how we got the Bible, also taught as fact. This of course probably led many people astray, if not at least made atheists more settled on atheism and agnostics more settled on agnosticism.

At the same time, though, Left Behind was a huge bestselling novel series—currently, the second best-selling novel series of all time next to Harry Potter; and the bestselling non-fiction book at that time was A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren, still considered one of the best selling non-fiction books of all time. Today, it’s still not hard to find some Christian books making the bestseller list.

Speaking of bestsellers, did you know that The Bible is the best-selling book of all time? Does anyone want to guess how many Bibles have been sold around the world in the past 200 years? I’ll give you a hint, it’s as many people that are on earth right now. That’s right, most estimates are at over 7 billion copies sold in the past 200 years. There are about 2,500 worldwide translations of the Bible in either part or whole, and another 1,300 translations currently in progress. Nearly 170,000 new Bibles are sold or distributed in just the United States every day. That’s not to say how many copies are stolen.

It has been said that The Bible is the most shoplifted book of all time, though there’s no conclusive evidence of that. Needless to say, there’s something about The Bible that people want.

There’s a survey group based out of Ventura, Calif. called Barna Group. They are a Christian-based group that specializes in studying religious trends. Just last week they released their annual State of the Bible survey, commissioned by American Bible Society. The study examines the behaviors and beliefs about the Bible among U.S. adults. The results show that Americans overwhelmingly believe the Bible is a source of hope and good.

Here are some of their findings: 87 percent of households in the U.S. own a Bible. 58 percent of adults wish they read The Bible more often. 56 percent of those who report an increase in Bible readership attribute it to their understanding that Bible reading is an important part of their faith journey. 39 percent point to a difficult life experience that led them to search the Bible for direction or answers, at an increase of 13 percentage points from the previous year (26%). Seeing how the Bible changed someone they knew for the better was an important motivating factor for 30 percent of adults, as was being asked by someone they know to read the Bible (20%).

People are searching for answers. And they’re doing a great thing by looking in The Bible. But how many of you know that opening up from page one and reading through doesn’t really give people the answers right away? The Bible often doesn’t have topical indexes for inspiration on what you need. This isn’t written like an owners manual or a self-help book. People need more than just reading the Bible for themselves alone. They need us to help give them direction, support, and prayer. They need us to plant some seeds. You may say, then that if they’re so interested, then why don’t they just come to church? It seems like the logical thing to do, right? Well, the Barna Group, the one that conducted the study on the Bible, has some interesting statistics on that, too. But I’ll get to that in a minute. Let’s finish looking more at people’s curiosity about Christ:

Besides books where else can we find curiosity about Christ today? Joel Osteen and Joyce Meyer are bestselling authors, but they also gather thousands of television viewers and followers on social media. Christian music artists will sometimes top the secular music charts. And occasionally we see a Christian movie in the theaters. Right now The Shack is getting both praise and criticism for its take on God. And Oprah Winfrey regularly has the controversial Rob Bell on her channel.

I’m not delving into who’s right or who’s wrong about what doctrines, what I am saying is this: People are curious about Christ. And there are so many voices out there right now on the right and on the left—on the traditional view and on the liberal view—that I think there is a lot of confusion about who this Jesus really is. It’s up to us to give people the right perspective—the people in whom we come in contact every day, it’s not just the job of a church service.

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