The more you read God’s word the more clear it becomes that the question of who Jesus was and what He did are of utmost importance. In John 14:6 NIV Jesus says “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me”. In Romans 10:9 NIV Paul says, “If you declare with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord' and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” The take away from these verses is clear. Jesus is saying explicitly that our response to Him is not without consequences. On the other hand, the more you read the world the less clear Jesus becomes. Many say He is one of many ways to God, others (including his peers) a prophet, most agree at least a good teacher or perhaps just an itinerant preacher.
The way to close this gap between what God’s Word says and what the world says is to further examine the Scriptures. In Philippians 2:6-8 NIV Paul says our mindset toward others should be that of Christ Jesus, “Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to His own advantage; rather, He made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross! While the primary purpose of this verse is to encourage us to be selfless, it does have the benefit of focusing our attention on the main areas of interest surrounding Jesus.
Let’s first address the topic of the person of Jesus. Here we are answering the question, “Who is this guy?” The verse starts by acknowledging that Jesus is in very nature God and equal with God (the Father). The first thing we want to say about Jesus is that Jesus was divine, or God. The observation made by Paul and other New Testament writers that Jesus was God is a result of Jesus' radical understanding of who He was. Jesus claimed to have the power and authority to perform miracles (Matthew 8:23-27 NIV) and cast out demons (Mark 1:23-38 NIV) as well as forgive sins (Mark 2:1-12 NIV) and speak authoritatively on old testament laws (Matthew 5-7 NIV). All of this was in addition to claiming to be the Jewish Messiah, the Son of God, and the Son of Man spoken of by the prophet Daniel (Mark 14:61-62 NIV). Jesus' contemporaries understood that claiming these titles and abilities were tantamount to claiming to be God and thus they charged him with blasphemy. Jesus’ claims in the 21st century are in many ways no less controversial than they were in the 1st century. The second thing we want to say about Jesus is that He was human, or man. He was born physically of Mary’s womb (Luke 2:7 NIV), He was tempted to sin (Matthew 4:1 NIV) and experienced limitations both mentally (Mark 13:32 NIV) and physically (Matthew 4:2 NIV). In being not just God but also man, Jesus is able to sympathize with us (Hebrews 4:15 NIV) and perform the greatest act of all time, redeeming mankind. (Galatians 4:4-5 NIV).
God’s redemption of humankind, or atonement, was accomplished through the work of Jesus, “becoming obedient to death”. Jesus' death on the cross was the culmination of the Old Testament sacrificial system whereby animals were slain for the payment of sins. According to Leviticus 17:11 NIV, “it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul”. It is this focus on the blood, as the source of atonement, which paves the way for the hope of modern man. No longer do we partake in the sacrificial system of early Judaism, but atonement has been accomplished by the once for all sacrifice of Jesus (Romans 5:8 NIV and Romans 8:1 NIV). Jesus put His final stamp of authority on His life and teachings by His resurrection from the dead. His resurrection makes possible a relationship with Him now and for all eternity, and gives the believer hope just as it did to those first believers responsible for the explosive growth of Christianity.
2000 years ago the angels announced the birth of Jesus to shepherds by proclaiming “fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a savior, who is Christ the Lord”. To proclaim the birth of Jesus, our Savior, as simply good news may be the greatest understatement of all time. This truly is the best news ever heard by mankind which will inevitably grow weary of trying to save itself. Accept Jesus' offer of life eternal and life to the full by following the advice of Paul and declaring with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.