Why is it that if you were to mention the name of Buddah, Mohammed or Confucius you would be viewed as someone who has an open mind, is well read and informed, but, if you mention the name of Jesus, the conversation gets uncomfortable? I think it is Jesus' fault. After all, Buddah, Mohammed or Confucius were great moral teachers. They pointed their followers to something greater than themselves. They would say, "don't look to me, look to my teaching." Jesus on the other hand doesn't point to anything greater than himself. He doesn't say, "follow my teaching" he says, "follow me!" That is a pretty bold statement.
All other religious leaders have used a sort of third point of reference. The "meaning of life" can be spoken of in the third person. You can disregard the teaching without disregarding the teacher. That doesn't work with Jesus because he is his teaching. He isn't just the messenger, he is the message. The two are inseparable. Jesus doesn't tell us that he will show us the way, the truth and the life. He says, "I AM the way, the truth and the life." You can't reject Jesus' way without rejecting Jesus.
Jesus requires a response; He provokes a response. For some it is a response of adoration and worship; for others it is a response of anger and hate. Why would one respond in anger? Because when we look Jesus, he shows us ourselves. (Remember in high school when the really pretty girl would walk in the room and all the other girls would tear her down behind her back? Imagine how they would talk about her if she were the smartest as well.) When we look at Jesus, we see our true selves; and we don't like what we see.
The good news is that Jesus has come to make all things new. He has come to establish a new humanity where we are free to be as God intended. Jesus came not only to free us from the consequence of sin; he came to free us from our sin. This comes at an expense. We have to be willing to give our entire selves. We have to be willing to give up our pride, fear, lusts-- our sins. But many times, we don't want to. We want to hold on to these things that are so "precious" to us and God will allow us to do so. It will change us not unlike the transformation Smeagol experienced when he held onto the ring.
Lord, change me...make me new!!!