Who is Jesus Christ?

God created us for union with himself; but he is so different from us that in order to make this union possible, it is necessary for us to share in God's divinity. Since God is holy, it is also necessary for us to be made holy, and satisfaction to be made for our sins. To these ends, God the Son became man. As man He could represent the human race, and as God's Son he could offer sacrifices of infinite value and obtain infinite merits, winning for mankind a share in the divine nature, intimate fellowship with God, and everlasting life.
From this profound mystery, many life-changing implications ensue. For starters, if Jesus Christ was—and is—God Incarnate, then everything He taught is true, and every institution he founded divine; and in justice we owe him our wholehearted and lifelong worship, obedience, and service.

Such a great mystery, such a radical change in the course of human affairs called for much preparation. The first man and woman had rebelled against their Creator, and their descendants inherited sinful tendencies that would plague mankind until the end of time. For centuries God readied a chosen people. The revealed religion was centered on sacrifice, and full of symbolism pointing to the Messiah. Evildoers were weeded out, and the righteous were blessed. Reverence for God and his Law were instilled, along with the hope of a Messiah.

The Messiah was to be a descendant of Abraham, the Hebrew Patriarch to whom God gave the promise of innumerable descendants and of a happy future (Gen. 12:2-3). He was also to be of the line of David, a man after God's own heart and king of the Hebrew people; he would inherit David's throne, and his reign would last forever (1 Sam. 13:14; Ps. 131[132]:11; Is. 9:7).

Jesus was all of these things; but first-century Palestinian Jews were looking for a political leader who would deliver them from Roman rule. The last thing they were expecting was a Messiah whose kingdom was in men's hearts, whom the Romans would humiliate and put to death.

When Jesus began to preach in the Jewish synagogue, the people were in awe. He did not merely impart knowledge, but illustrated vital truths with vivid imagery and loving concern. He did not simply hand on traditions, but explained their meaning. He not only knew the letter of the Law; he was imbued with its spirit. Frank about the consequences of sin, he was gentle with sinners. With ease he penetrated the meaning of the Scriptures, shedding new light on old truths.

With sinners Jesus was merciful. He associated with them, dined with them, and did not condemn them (Mt. 9:11; Jn. 8). At the same time he would not tolerate disdain for the things of God (Jn. 2:13-17) or hypocrisy among those claiming to be God's representatives (Mt. 23:27).

Jesus worked many miracles, and thereby attracted great crowds; but his miracles were never done for show or personal gain. He met real needs and pointed to important spiritual realities. With the touch of his hand he cured diseases, opened blind eyes, and healed lame limbs--figurative of reconciling the sinner with God. He walked on water, changed water to wine, and multiplied food. At his command, storms halted, trees withered, devils fled, and the dead came to life. God had power and authority over Nature; therefore these miracles pointed to Christ's divinity. The Prophets had done similar things, but no one before had done so many of them.

Although he came as God in disguise, living as other men do, on some occasions he openly proclaimed his equality with his Heavenly Father (e.g. Jn. 8:58; 10:30; 14:6,9). More astonishing still was the plausibility of his claims. This Man was quite sane; in fact, he radiated sanity, wholeness, wisdom, peace. He spoke simple truth with force and clarity, and He practiced what he preached. There would always be those who would refuse to hear, but to open minds he was more than a man.

When the Son of God was betrayed by one of his own Apostles, arrested by the Jewish leaders, and put to death by the Romans, his response was, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do" (Lk. 23:34). The centurion who stood near the cross felt compelled to confess, "Indeed this man was the Son of God" (Mk. 15:39). Later, Jesus' followers would remember the words of John, "Behold the Lamb of God, behold him who taketh away the sin of the world" (Jn. 1:29). He did not die in vain; he died for the sins of mankind. He died an Innocent Victim to make men right with God.

Three days later, Jesus rose from the dead. After he showed himself to his followers, the Apostle who had doubted him did not hesitate to say to him, "My Lord and my God" (Jn. 20:28). Believing that he was God in the flesh required supernatural faith, even after witnessing a miracle; but Jesus was more than willing to grant that faith to those who really wanted it -- that is, to those who followed him for the truth's sake, and not merely out of convenience. To them it was given to see him ascend into the sky, symbolic of his ascent to Heaven where he now reigns at the right hand of the Father.

Read more about Jesus in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John.


© Todd Aylard