May 14, 2007

Who is Jesus?

A great teacher? Founder of the world’s largest organized religion? Prophet? Humanitarian? All of these descriptions have been attached to Jesus Christ of Nazareth through the years. And none of them without warrant. For Jesus did teach like no one ever taught. Millions of people world-wide do claim Him as the founder of their faith. And Jesus did care for humanity with a power and a compassion unparalleled in history. But none of these man-made descriptions fully captures the essence of the true man, Jesus. So who, really, is Jesus? Let’s let Him answer the question Himself.

Jesus claimed to be God Himself. He took on prerogative that belong only to God Himself (e.g. forgiving sins, Mark 2.5). He claimed to be one with God, the Father (John 10.30). He commended the apostle Thomas for calling Him “My Lord and my God” (John 20.28). And He was constantly referring to Himself by God’s personal name, “I AM” (John 4.26, 8.58, 18.6, etc.). And yet…

Jesus also claimed to be fully human. Even after His resurrection, He made it clear that He was flesh and blood, just like us: “See My hands and feet…touch Me and see Me, for a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see” (Luke 24.39). Surely his agonizing death, along with the testimony of eye-witnesses, also prove clearly that Jesus was fully human just like you and I.

How can a person be both fully God and fully man? The question is beyond full comprehension. But we get some clear insight when we read about the virgin birth of Jesus (Luke 1-2). Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit (and thus is fully God), and yet was born of Mary, a Jewish woman (and thus is fully human).

And why are these things important—and why is Jesus Himself so important? Because…

Jesus claimed to be the only hope for man’s salvation. He claimed that no one (no one!) can know God unless they come to God through Him (John 14.6)! Why? Because all of us are sinners—intentionally ignorant of God and rejecting our innate knowledge of Him (Romans 1.21). Yet Christ came to bring sinners back to right relationship with God; to give His life as a ransom payment for our sins (Mark 10.45); and thus, to grant us eternal life (John 3.16) in place of the judgment we deserve.

Being fully God, Jesus had no sins of His own for which He had to die (Hebrews 4.15)—and was, therefore, spiritually capable to die for ours. And being fully human, Jesus was physically capable of entering into the physical death that our sins deserve. No other character on the pages of human history claimed to be capable of dying for the sins of the world. But Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, not only claimed the ability, but demonstrated the willingness to do so.

Amazing claims! And Jesus not only made them, but proved them by raising Himself from the dead!

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