There is more than one Jesus being offered today.
I am not going to name the religious groups that are offering a different Jesus than the real Jesus, i.e., the Jesus of the four gospels in the New Testament, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John. In the gospels, we find the testimony of two writers who were among the eyewitnesses to the life of Jesus, Matthew and John; and also the witness of other New Testament authors who were later converts from either Judaism or paganism, including Mark and Luke. Luke, who also wrote The Acts of the Apostles, was the meticulous and accurate historian of the Early Church.
The original twelve disciples Jesus had called to follow Him were the men in whom He had invested most of His time, and His life, while preparing them to record His words and to continue His ministry following His departure. He knew there would be others who would become His followers, who would also be used to advance the Kingdom of God. However, those who had first answered the call to discipleship were the ones who were privileged to spend three wonderful and eventful years with Jesus, when He was teaching and training the Twelve for the ministry to which Jesus had called them.
They had heard His matchless words; they had witnessed His mighty works; they had seen His deeds of mercy; and, finally, they had watched in horror as He was taken prisoner and then falsely accused by the religious leaders who feared Him; questioned by Pontius Pilate, who found no fault in Him, but was so afraid of public opinion that he tried to wash his hands of the whole affair. His disciples watched as Jesus was turned over to those who had cried out for Him to be crucified. They watched as He was flogged, mocked, spat upon, nailed to a cross and elevated between heaven and earth as the Lamb of God slain for the sin of the world. They had heard His words from the cross and watched from a safe distance as His battered and blood-drained body was taken down from that “emblem of suffering and shame.” And John, the only disciple who had gone with Jesus all the way to the cross, the disciple Jesus had trusted to care for His mother, had watched as His lifeless body was lovingly prepared for burial, then placed in a borrowed tomb (“borrowed,” for it was only going to be used as the resting place for His body for three days), a tomb provided by a secret disciple, Joseph of Arimathea.
So this is why most Christians who believe in the authenticity of the testimony of these “eyewitnesses” and accept the authority of the whole body of scripture will agree that the only real Jesus is the Jesus of the gospels, not some other Jesus who is among many man-made versions that are more to the liking of some cults or critics, skeptics or scholars, who represent a wide range of opinions regarding “the real Jesus.” I have no desire to become adversarial with any of them, or to assume the role of judge, for which I am so poorly qualified, but am simply saying:
This is where I stand, and where I believe most believers stand, when it comes to the identity of the real Jesus. He is the Jesus of the gospels, the Jesus who is my first love, who has my devotion and my allegiance, for He is my Lord and my Redeemer. For me, He is perfect everything. I need no other Jesus. I want no other Jesus.
How about you? Where do you stand? If you are among those who are still looking for the real Jesus, I would encourage you to study the New Testament for yourself. In addition to the testimony of the gospel writers who were eyewitnesses, we have the witness and writings of Mark and Luke, the other two evangelists and gospel writers—they were not among the eyewitnesses to the life and ministry of Jesus, but first century converts during the missionary travels of the Apostle Paul who, prior to his own conversion as Saul of Tarsus, was the greatest persecutor of the followers of Jesus during the Apostolic Age. After his dramatic encounter with the resurrected Jesus, when He appeared to him on the Damascus road (Act 9: 1-22), this man who was one of the greatest intellectuals of his day, born in Tarsus, the seat of Stoicism and one of the three great intellectual centers of the ancient world (the other two being Alexandria and Athens), was destined to become the greatest preacher and interpreter of the Gospel, not only in Israel but throughout the Greek-speaking world. Furthermore, he also became the most persecuted of all the apostles, having at one time been their greatest persecutor and the most feared enemy of all members of the Jesus movement, which had become known as “the Way.” Jesus had called Himself “the way,” (without which there is no going); also “the truth,” (without which there is no knowing); and “the life,” (without which there is no living). (John 14:1-10)
The books of the New Testament are reliable historical records; but there have always been those who will say they are attracted to Jesus but refuse to accept His claims. They refuse to believe that all the words attributed to Jesus were His own words, so even some theologians will take their theological paring knives and whittle away at the Jesus of the gospels, and the Jesus as interpreted by the apostles in their letters, until all they have left when they have finished is a poor, pale meager human Jesus—not the risen Christ of the Easter story; not one who was (is) truly divine, fully God as well as fully man. This means they can reject not only some of the claims of Jesus that are recorded in the gospels, but also some of the Christology found in the epistles. They can say they believe in Jesus, but they do not believe that the Jesus of the gospels and the Christ of the Easter story are the same Jesus.
This is the critical faith question regarding one’s view of Jesus Christ: Is it a “cross-eyed” view, taking His death on the cross as an atonement for all our sins, also seeing the cross through the empty tomb, believing the Jesus we meet in the gospels and the risen Christ of the Easter story are one and the same?
According to the gospels, as well as the epistles of the New Testament, which interpret both the death and resurrection of Jesus, the implications of both events in the life of Jesus for all believers, the answer is a resounding “YES!”