April 21, 2008

What Manner of Man is this?

The following is an evangelistic article I wrote last year some time and never published. I post it now because:

1. It might be helpful to some of you readers in organizing your thoughts...and praising the Savior.
2. You might want to bookmark it as a brief something you could send to friends who are asking questions about God and Christ.
3. Anthony is preaching on a similar theme at PRBC this weekend, and I thought this brief article might serve as a little appetizer to whet our appetites for the meal he is preparing.

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 prerogatives 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.). Jesus was fully God. And yet…

Jesus also claimed to be fully human. Jesus slept, ate, drank, wept, and bled. There is no question that He was (and is) a real live man. 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). Jesus was fully man.

Now, how can a person be fully God and be, at the same time, a human being? 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 the knowledge of Him that is obvious in the created world (Romans 1.20-21). God made us, loves, us, cares for us, and has made Himself plain to us. But we have been traitors.

Yet Christ came to bring sinners back to right relationship with God; to give His life as a ransom payment, absorbing the punishment that we deserve for our treason against God (Mark 10.45); and thus, to grant us eternal life (John 3.16) in place of the judgment we deserve. But to do so, He had to be the one and only God-man!

Being fully God, and having no sins of His own for which to die (Hebrews 4.15), Jesus was, therefore, spiritually capable to die for ours. And being fully human, Jesus was physically capable of entering into the physical, human death that our human sins deserve.

There have been numerous religious characters to come on the stage of the world—each of them claiming to have the solution for bring man together with ‘god.’ But no other character on the pages of human history ever even so much as claimed to be capable of dealing with the problem of mankind’s guilt. No one ever claimed to be able, single-handedly, to make man right with God. But Jesus Christ, fully God and fully man, not only claimed the ability, but demonstrated the willingness to do so by laying down His life on the cross. “For Christ died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3.18).

Amazing claims! And Jesus not only made them, but proved them by raising Himself from the dead! Here is a life worthy of our consideration…and, more than that, our admiration and adoration!

No comments: