Having taught several courses on World Religions I find it fascinating that people strongly object to the Christian doctrine that Jesus is the only way to heaven. It is especially curious when you consider that other major religions have included Jesus in their systems. In some cases they seem to revere Jesus as much as, if not more than many Christians.
Islam holds Jesus in such high regard as a major prophet that it teaches that he was in fact born of a virgin. It also teaches that he DID NOT die on a cross. The reason for this is that it is believed that Allah would never allow such a revered prophet to suffer the indignity of the Cross. That is some amazing respect for Jesus.
Hinduism teaches lots of different things about Jesus. Depending on who you talk to or what you read he can be an Avatar, or incarnation of the God Vishnu. Or he might be some other form of a god come into the world. At the very least he is a spiritual master/teacher.
Buddhism also holds Jesus in high regard. Many see Jesus as a Bodhisattva, or an enlightened one who instead of immediately proceeding to Nirvana, sacrificed himself by staying around on earth to show others the way to enlightenment. That is a highly revered position in Buddhism.
It is interesting that you don’t find the leaders of other religions being co-opted in this way. For instance, there is no mention that I know where Hinduism holds Mohamed in such regard. And certainly Islam has no place for Buddha as a profit. Far from it. The opposite would be the case.
So what is it about Jesus that everyone wants a piece of Him but few are willing to admit that Jesus claimed to be and is in fact, the only way to heaven? My speculation is this. The Bible tells us that God has placed within each of us an awareness of the truth. We are told that creation itself speak to us of God and His truth. 18The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of men who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Romans 1:18-20
Those verses make it clear that what we have done is repress the truth about who God is and gone our own way, to our own peril. But truth has a way of bubbling to the surface. I think people want a piece of Jesus because there is a recognition, deep down inside, that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. But to accept that full on is too threatening, too radical, to provocative. So instead we sanitize Jesus and fit just enough of Him into our system to feel good about it.
But before you go off feeling all self righteous and holy because you haven’t done that, think again. In what ways do you fit a piece of Jesus into your life and not take all of Him full on? I know I do it in my life and I have yet to meet someone who doesn’t have at least some area in their life that they keep Jesus out. Do you like the Jesus who welcomed little children into his midst but really don’t want the Jesus who was angry in the Temple and cleared out the money changers? Maybe it is the other way around. You like the wild, forceful Jesus but have trouble with the gentle and mild side of Him. Maybe you like the Jesus who argued with the religious leaders but aren’t so keen on the Jesus who said, “take up your cross and follow me”.
You see we all can be comfortable with a piece of Jesus. But Jesus made it clear that He intends to be Lord of all. That means every nook and cranny of our lives. That means that we come under His Lordship completely and totally. It means that we love Him with our entire heart, entire mind, entire soul, and entire strength. We hold nothing back from Him, because in going to the Cross, He held nothing back from us.