Some time ago the thought of Jesus as one’s personal Savior began to be popular. The thrust behind this statement seemed to be that you did not have to be a part of a church or congregation of people in order to have a relationship with Jesus. One would hear this statement and simply recite a rehearsed prayer (found nowhere in scripture) and assume that they are saved, and Jesus is their personal savior. This arrangement is not true, not only is it not true that one can pray their way to salvation, it is also not true that God saves men and leaves them to themselves on an island. People come to Jesus and respond to His grace in obedient faith by being baptized and having their sins forgiven (Acts 2:37-38; Eph. 2:8-9) and then they are added to the church Jesus promised to build (Mt. 16:18; Acts 2:41, 47).
While it is not found in Scripture that Jesus can be accepted by merely reciting a prayer heard on television and then one has Jesus as a “personal savior,” it is true that Jesus is the Savior and that He is involved in our lives in a very personal way. The fact that Christianity involves communal and congregational aspects cannot be ignored by anyone who has sincerely read the New Testament. However, we should not overlook the fact that there is a very personal and one-on-one aspect of Jesus’ work that each Christian should take comfort in.
Jesus as a personal teacher
There were times when Jesus taught the multitudes and they walked away astonished at His ability (Mt. 7:28-29). There would be thousands gathered on certain occasions to hear Him speak and be fed both physically and spiritually (Mt. 15:29-39; Jn. 6:22-24). However, Jesus would also take time to personally engage with just one individual and invest in him or her spiritually. The tax collector Zacchaeus, climbed up into a tree to see Jesus, and Jesus went to his house and brought salvation to it that day (Lk. 19:1-10). Most people would hardly be involved with tax collectors in Jesus’ day. They were looked down upon by society as financial opportunists and were often lumped together with other sinners in the culture (Mt. 9:10-11). Jesus didn’t allow this common stereotype to keep him from personally engaging with Zacchaeus. I suppose He could have wondered how he would be perceived by fellow Jews, but he didn’t. The same is true today for us, we may not be the best people in the world—truth is, we all have sinful flaws—but Jesus doesn’t write us off (Lk. 19:10; Rom. 3:23). Jesus is personally concerned about the soul of everyone, even those who may be seen as social outcasts.
The occasion with Jesus and Zacchaeus was not the only time he engaged in one-on-one discussion. Jesus did the same thing with Nicodemus, the Samaritan woman at the well, a concerned mother, Simon the Pharisee, the woman caught in adultery, and even Pilate while He was on trial for His life (Mt. 20:20-22; Lk. 7:40-50; Jn. 3, 4, 8, 18). Jesus was personally interested in these individuals though they came from varying backgrounds and all had different issues. In our busy world that suggests that if you are not wealthy, famous, or uniquely gifted you are no good, it’s important to see Jesus as a personal Savior that takes personal interest in us. You can never be too small to be used by God (ask Zacchaeus Lk. 19:3).
We need to take personal interest in Jesus
Jesus wasn’t just a mega preacher, He had a mega heart (Mk. 6:34). He was sought by the thousands, but he was never too busy for the individual. The burning question is, am I too busy for Jesus? Are there other interests and things that push Jesus out of my life? Do I have the company and approval of others who are ranked higher on my priority list than Jesus? Jesus wants all of me and not merely a portion. Jesus deserves and demands our all.
Christians must be careful to not rest on their parents relationships to Jesus, their spouses commitment to Christ, or even their congregation’s dedication to Jesus. We cannot borrow faith from others any more than we can borrow the credit score of Bill Gates. There is a deception which is easy to fall into, where one believes that their life is built on Jesus and it is merely propped up on the faith of others. As Christians, we need to continually examine ourselves, take spiritual inventory, and be sure that our lives are built on the solid rock of Jesus Christ (Mt. 7:24-27; 2 Cor. 13:5). Do I know Jesus for myself through a study of His word (Jn. 6:63)? Am I His friend by obeying Him and showing my love for Him (Jn. 14:15, 15:14)? Jesus is the author, or originator of eternal salvation, but only for those who obey Him. Are you among that number (Heb. 5:9)? Jesus is the Savior of the world, but that means very little if I can’t say for sure that He is my Savior (Mt. 26:28; Gal. 2:20; 1 Jn. 2:1-2).
Jesus takes personal interest in individuals, and we need to individually take personal interest in Him. Christianity is no doubt a religion of community and congregational fellowship. Yet, there is still a very personal, one-on-one relationship that must be cultivated and maintained between the Christian and his God. Be reminded of the personal accountability that Paul expresses when he says, “So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God” (Rom. 14:12).