Greg explains how and why Jesus stands apart from other religious leaders.
So my question here is, “Why is Jesus different from other religious leaders?” And frankly, I thought the question was going to be, “How is Jesus different from other religious leaders?” So let me deal with the first question first, and it’s very easy to answer. Why is He different? Because no other religious leader did what was adequate to do to rescue men from their problem.
All other religious leaders, in one way or another, describe for you a rescue plan that you can implement and rescue yourself before God. Do this, this, this, this, this, whatever it happens to be. Do good, do these spiritual asanas, if you’re an eastern religion, do these behaviors, rescue yourself. In the Christian story of reality, which is the true story of reality, God rescues man. Man does not rescue himself. Why doesn’t he rescue himself? Because he cannot rescue himself.
The problem—and you’ve got to get the problem right to know what the right rescue is, right? Okay, and the problem is is that man has rebelled against God, he is guilty of sedition against his Sovereign, and he owes God. He must pay a debt just like anybody who commits a crime has to pay their debt to society. We use the same language. So there’s a debt that is owed.
How do we pay? Well, we pay by God casting us out from His presence for ever. Ruined for relationship with Him forever. And when we were made to be with God in friendship with Him, and we are cast away from His presence forever, we will be ruined for our original purpose, and that will be Hell. Okay, so that’s the problem. How do we get rescued from that? We can’t pay the debt. Someone else pays it. Who pays it? The only one who can pay it. God pays the debt. He becomes a man Himself in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, lives the life that we should have lived but didn’t, and then dies the death that we deserve, but He rescues us from.
So why is Jesus different? Because the other people could not do what needs to be done. How is He different? He’s the God-man. He’s the only one who did what needs to be done. The way I like to put it is the reason Jesus is the only way of salvation is that He’s the only one who solved the problem. That is why He is different, and that is also how He is different.