The most important human being to ever live on planet earth was not a powerful athlete, an influential politician, or a wealthy business tycoon. The most powerful man in the history of the world was born in a stable for animals in an obscure village rather than in a palace in one of the world’s strategic cities. He spent his time in a carpenter’s shop working with his hands. He never graduated from an important school or wrote an important book. He was not impressive in his physical features. He never commanded an army. He was not an innovator or an inventor.
However, if you consider the most innovative and brilliant person in the history of science, physics, mathematics, engineering, politics, military, and the most capable person in the history of literature—all of them together have not impacted our world as has this one man—Jesus Christ. The Bible points out that Jesus is more than a gifted rabbi or a divine social worker who came to serve humanity. Jesus is the Son of the living God. He is the promised Messiah who took upon himself flesh and came on a rescue mission to save sinners (Matt 1:21; Luke 19:10).
Over the last couple of years, a campaign titled “He Gets Us” has been pointing people toward Jesus through television and social media advertisements. However, sadly, they have been pointing millions of people to the wrong Jesus.
The “He Gets Us” Campaign
The launch of “He Gets Us” began in 2022 as a media campaign designed to promote Jesus to the world through television, social media, and billboard advertisements. According to their website, the campaign seeks to tell the true story of Jesus to the world. Their website reads:
How did the story of Jesus, the world’s greatest love story, get twisted into a tool to judge, harm, and divide? How do we remind people that the story of Jesus belongs to everyone? These questions are the beating heart of He Gets Us.
The campaign started with a massive $100 million dollar investment backed by business owners and investors who claim the name of Jesus. Through messages that are designed to connect with the social moments of our culture, “He Gets Us” promotes messages that read: “Whatever you are facing, Jesus faced it too.”
One of the campaign’s videos, titled “The Rebel,” has been viewed more than 122 million times on YouTube in only 11 months. Needless to say, many people are watching and talking about the “He Gets Us” advertisements. According to their website, the organization believes the following:
“He Gets Us has chosen to not have our own separate statement of beliefs. Each participating church/ministry will typically have its own language. Meanwhile, we generally recognize the Lausanne Covenant as reflective of the spirit and intent of this movement and churches that partner with explorers from He Gets Us affirm the Lausanne Covenant.”
They are intentionally broad and unaffiliated with a specific Christian denomination or orthodox confession in order to partner with a wide range of organizations and churches across evangelicalism.
The Wrong Jesus of “He Gets Us”
It doesn’t matter if you’re a student or a professor, a janitor or a chief executive officer, a common citizen or a politician—one day every single person will stand before the throne of Jesus. Prior to the incarnation when the Son of God took upon himself human flesh and was born as a little baby in Bethlehem, he was enthroned in heaven and worshipped by angels (Is 6). Today, Jesus is seated upon the throne clothed in glorified flesh complete with the scars of his crucifixion.
The Jesus who is often presented in our culture is quite simply not the Jesus of the Bible. Our modern culture praises Jesus and curses him at the same time. In December of 2013, Time Magazine revealed Jesus to be the most significant figure of human history.1Time Magazine: https://ideas.time.com/2013/12/10/whos-biggest-the-100-most-significant-figures-in-history/ From politics to country music, Jesus is referenced in nearly every sphere of life. It was Kid Rock who referenced Jesus as “the man from Galilee” who an assistant to Hank Williams Jr.to lead him to the light.2Kid Rock’s song, “Jesus and Bocephus” released in 2015 on the album First Kiss. John Lennon once claimed that the Beatles were more popular than Jesus.3Lennon made the following statement in 1966 that created a massive firestorm of opposition against him: “Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I know I’m … Continue reading As time continues to ebb and flow, cultural references of Jesus present a deficient view of Jesus that serve as a distraction from his true mission, holiness, and sovereign authority.
In the “He Gets Us” campaign, the presentation of Jesus is driven by the winds of culture rather than the pages of Scripture. The “He Gets Us” message is built upon the sinking sand of social justice rather than the firm foundation of the gospel. In the messages of “He Gets Us” the text of Scripture is filtered through a cultural lens that’s overly contextualized so that the true Jesus appears to be a social worker rather than the sovereign Savior of the world.
In their presentation of Jesus’ interaction with the woman at the well in John 4, the boldness of Jesus and his confrontation of her sin is minimized. The way the scene is presented depicts Jesus “stepping over cultural barriers of gender, race, and status quo.” The presentation ends with these words:
Jesus took the time to listen to a lonely minority woman who was a stranger. He thought very highly of people. His culture did not. What would happen if we tried to do the same.
That’s not the point of the text. When the Scriptures are not interpreted properly, it results in the presentation of a different Jesus altogether. Jesus was not a social justice warrior marching through Samaria in order to fight for DEI or promote intersectionality. On his journey, he engages a woman who indeed was likely an outcast and engaged in open sexual immorality. She was one of God’s elect. Jesus came to seek and to save his people (Luke 19:10). The woman was on a divine appointment as she made her trek to Jacob’s well. She would leave the well that day with living water.
In one of their most popular advertisements that originally aired during the Christmas season titled “The Birth,” they tell the story of a teenage girl who got pregnant and her parents suspected it was her boyfriend’s baby, but it wasn’t his baby. They got married and moved into a small house together. The 60-second advertisement ends by saying, “One evening, her water broke. There wasn’t time to get help. He delivered the child and laid him in a manger.” Then, the video moves to a black screen where the following message is displayed, “Jesus was born to a teen mom.” The video ends with this message, “He gets us.”
Needless to say, this message of Jesus’ birth is greatly skewed and used as a message to encourage teen mothers who are pregnant as a result of sin—which certainly isn’t the story of Jesus’ incarnation. In peaching and teaching the Bible, it must be our goal to make the main point of the text the main point of our sermon or lesson. The point of the text is not the point of the “He Gets Us” campaign. As a result, they are presenting a different Jesus than the Jesus of holy Scripture.
One of the main target audiences for “He Gets Us” are fans at sporting events. I was in attendance in Dallas this season as the Cowboys played the Seahawks (11/30/23). Several times during the game, all of the LED screens around the stadium displayed an advertisement for “He Gets Us.” During the Super Bowl on Sunday evening, the campaign spent north of $17 million dollars on two different advertisements (estimated based on $7 million for 30-seconds).
Their first advertisement was titled “Foot Washing” and it aired during the first quarter. The advertisement was 60-seconds in length and flashed through several still scenes that depicted people who were different in ethnicity, age, sex, or cultural commitments engaged in foot washing.
One scene depicts a woman who is perceived to have walked away from a group of people evangelizing at an abortion center in order to stoop down to wash the feet of a young mother who was depicted as being there to murder her baby.
What’s the problem with this advertisement? Beyond the fact that “foot washing” was a cultural practice in the first century during Jesus’ earthly life and ministry and not to be raised to a common ordinance among Christians—the “He Gets Us” campaign presses the point that Jesus washed feet and that we need to “serve other people” who are different than us by showing them sacrificial love. Does the mother who is going to an abortion center to murder her baby need the gospel or does she need to be served in some other way?
At this point, we must be clear that Jesus did wash the feet of his disciples, but beyond his inner circle, Jesus was not walking from village to village washing feet. When Jesus washed the feet of his inner circle, it was at the Last Supper on the evening before his crucifixion. It was during this meal that Jesus practiced the Jewish feast of Passover and instituted the Lord’s Supper for the Church.
While Jesus washed the feet of the disciples, including Judas after Satan had put it in his heart to betray Jesus, he made some very specific statements about Judas’ heart of betrayal. In John 13:10-11, we find these words as Jesus washed Peter’s feet:
Jesus said to him, “The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you.” For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, “Not all of you are clean.”
In Matthew’s account, we find this interaction and sobering statement by Jesus (Matthew 26:24-25):
The Son of Man goes as it is written of him, but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been better for that man if he had not been born.” Judas, who would betray him, answered, “Is it I, Rabbi?” He said to him, “You have said so.”
The Jesus of the Bible is not presented as a Jew who walked around in his long robe from village to village washing feet and serving people without confronting their sin. His practice was to preach and confront the sin of entire villages with boldness. He preached with such boldness, that the people were astounded because he thundered the Scriptures with authority—unlike the scribes (Matt 7:28-29). Herod was convinced that Jesus was John the Baptist raised from the dead which says much about Jesus’ earthly ministry if he was compared to John the Baptist (Matt 14:2).
In the end, the world doesn’t need a nice social worker who can come to serve the needs of humanity. The world doesn’t need an inclusive ecumenical rabbi figure to affirm humanity. The world needs Jesus. The Jesus of the Bible. The world needs the message Jesus came to preach. How do we truly love our neighbor? We apply the Law of God to reveal their sin and then point them in the direction of hope through Jesus Christ who saves sinners. In Mark’s Gospel, the opening scene is Jesus entering Galilee proclaiming the gospel saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel” (Mark 1:15).
The ”He Gets Us” campaign never presents the need for sinners to repent. Their campaign promotes works and service but it doesn’t present the good news of Jesus. The social gospel never saves, it only sooths people as they journey onward toward the gates of hell. The “He Gets Us” presents a Jesus who affirms rather than confronts. There is no message of repentance and no message of hope.
The fact is, Jesus does get us. Even when we were dead in our trespasses and sins and unable to save ourselves, Jesus came to save his people from their sin (Rom 5:8; John 3:16-17). He did not come to affirm us, or provide equity of resources across diverse groups. Jesus came to redeem us (Gal 3:13; Titus 2:14). Jesus came to lay down his life as our substitute and was sacrificed on the ignominious Roman cross for our salvation (Phil 2:5-11).
After spending millions of dollars to present Jesus to the world, the “He Gets Us” campaign has failed to get the true Jesus and his message to their audience. If you’re looking for the true Jesus, he is clearly presented to us in the pages of the Bible.
*This is an example of a video they could’ve spent $17 million dollars to promote at the Super Bowl.
*For more information and helpful resources on the “He Gets Us” campaign, I would encourage you to read Samuel Sey’s helpful piece titled, “He Gets Us” Doesn’t Get Jesus
|Time Magazine: https://ideas.time.com/2013/12/10/whos-biggest-the-100-most-significant-figures-in-history/
|Kid Rock’s song, “Jesus and Bocephus” released in 2015 on the album First Kiss.
|Lennon made the following statement in 1966 that created a massive firestorm of opposition against him: “Christianity will go, it will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I know I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first – rock & roll or Christianity. Jesus was all right, but his disciples were thick and ordinary. It’s them twisting it that ruins it for me.”