“Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.” (Matt.10:32-33)

With clear statements like this, one wonders how the interpretation that Jesus was God could have ever gained any traction, let alone be held by millions of followers. Jesus clearly makes a distinction between himself here and God. He also clarifies the relationship that Jesus has with his followers. Jesus illustrates with this statement that he is representing God, and that he is to be respected because of his relationship with God -- not because he is God.

This statement also illustrates the confidential and intimate nature of the relationship between Jesus and God. Jesus clearly indicates that it is God’s pleasure that we must ultimately have, but that pleasure is connected inseparably with whether we are pleasing to God's confidential loving servant, Jesus.

The loving relationship between Jesus and God means that the motives and intentions of Jesus and God are inseparable. It is not that they are the same entity. This is the basis of the confusion between the identity of Jesus and that of God. While Jesus’ intentions of teaching us to love and serve God are connected with God’s will--because God wants us to return to Him--God is pleased when we follow Jesus’ teachings and give respect to Jesus.

With regard to the “acknowledgment” between Jesus and God, this is an immediate process, because God knows our hearts and sees our actions. There is no physical need for God to wait for Jesus to tell Him whether someone is acknowledging or pleasing to Jesus. God immediately knows when a person is satisfying the teachings of Jesus.

This does not mean that Jesus has become unnecessary. The way that we perceive Jesus is to see his deep and committed love for God, illustrated by his acts of surrender and sacrifice. We can see how devoted Jesus is to God that he was willing to sacrifice everything--even his physical body--in the service of God. Understanding these actions from a point of devotion allows us to truly acknowledge Jesus in his actual position--of being the confidential and perfect loving servant of God. This is the acknowledgment of Jesus that he is requesting of us. Not that we artificially put him on a pedestal of being God. Not that we go around fanatically trying to force people to “surrender to Jesus.” But that we understand his loving service to God, and we then follow in his example, by also committing our lives--as best we can--to God.

Acknowledgment is thus inseparable from following Jesus’ teachings. Do you think that Jesus means we simply acknowledge his existence? No. Acknowledgment is the process of accepting and acting upon his teachings.

And what are Jesus’ primary teachings? To love and serve God. To do God’s will. To develop our relationship with God and give up our intentions of happiness from matter.

This article is republished from The Real Teachings of Jesus.