The Unexpected Messiah
Nearly 2000 years ago in a podunk little ketchup-stain-on-the-map hick town called Bethlehem, a baby named Jesus was born in a smelly flea-infested dung-filled barn to a poor unwed teenage Jewish girl named Mary. As unlikely as it may have seemed at the time, this little baby would have more of an impact on human history than anyone before or since. Our calendar is split in two (B.C. and A.D.) by the event of his birth. Annual holidays from school and work are celebrated to commemorate the events of his life, such as Christmas and Easter. Some of the worst atrocities and some of the greatest acts of compassion in history have been done in his name. And from the moment of his birth up through today, no one had generated more controversy than Jesus Christ. Even during his own lifetime the rumors and opinions about him were so diverse that he asks his disciples directly, â€œBut who do you say that I am?â€ (Matthew 16:15).
At Redeeming Grace, we believe there is no more important question that you can ask yourself than, â€œWho is Jesus?â€ Your answer to this question makes all the difference as to how you live both now and for eternity. But before you can give an answer, you must know some things about Jesus as revealed in the Bible.
Unlike anyone else in history, Jesus fully reveals the character and glory of God. Jesus is not just a sample of God, or a representative of God, or merely someone with God-potential, but rather the Bible teaches that he is fully God without exception or limitation. The Apostle Paul writes to the Colossians concerning Christ, â€œHe is the image of the invisible Godâ€¦ for in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwellâ€ (Colossians 1:15, 19), and again, â€œin him the whole fullness of the deity dwells bodilyâ€ (Colossians 2:9). The writer of Hebrews concurs; â€œHe is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his natureâ€ (Hebrews 1:3). One day while Jesus was teaching his Disciples, Philip asked the Lord, â€œshow us the Father,â€ to which Jesus replied, â€œHave I not been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Fatherâ€ (John 14:8-9). All of the fullness of God and everything that the Father is resides perfectly and completely in the person of Jesus.
Since Jesus is fully God, this means he shares all the same attributes of God, such as being eternal. On the eve of His execution, Jesus prays to the Father, â€œglorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existedâ€ (John 17:5). Long before his birth in the manger and long before the lifetimes of the Old Testament fathers and even before the creation of the world, Jesus lived in perfect eternal unity with the Father and Holy Spirit.
Jesus also proved His divinity by doing things only God can do, such as controlling nature when he calms the stormy sea with just the word of his mouth (Matthew 8:23-27) or commanding the fig tree to whither because it bears no fruit (Matthew 21:19) or feeding 5,000 people with just a few pieces of bread and fish (John 6). He claims the divine ability to forgive sins to a man he heals of paralysis (Mark 2:10) and when an adulterous woman washes his feet with her tears Jesus tells her, â€œYour sins are forgivenâ€ to which those around them respond, “Who is this who even forgives sins?” (Luke 7:48-49). Jesus not only healed people, but showed he had power over death itself by raising his friend Lazarus from the dead (John 11:42). Jesus is omniscient (John 2:24), he is omnipresent (Matthew 28:20), and he is the omnipotent Creator and Sustainer of the Universe: â€œFor by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold togetherâ€ (Colossians 1:16-17). The evidence of Jesusâ€™ divinity is not an understated issue of the biblical authors, but rather is the unquestioned reality that permeates every page of the New Testament. Jesus equality with the Father is seen most clearly in his command and willingness to receive worship. Jesus states that all men are to â€œhonor the Son just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent himâ€ (John 5:23).
But while Jesus is fully God, he is also fully man just like us. Jesus had a real physical human body of flesh, blood, bones, hair, proteins, and DNA. The writers of the New Testament consistently, and without reservation, show the very real human nature of Jesus. Jesus experienced all the same physical needs we all feel. After fasting for forty days in the desert, Jesus was hungry (Luke 4:2), and he stops at a well in Samaria to rest because he was â€œweariedâ€ (John 4:6); while on the Cross Jesus says, â€œI thirstâ€ (John 19:28), and the writer of Hebrews makes it clear that Christ endured â€œthe suffering of deathâ€ (Hebrews 2:9). At other points in the Gospels we find that Jesus weeps over the death of Lazarus (John 11:35), he laments over the stubborn rebellion of Jerusalem (Matt. 23:27), he lovingly welcomes children into his arms (Mark 10:16), he turns over tables at the temple in anger (John 2:15), and in the Garden of Gethsemene he experiences such mental anguish and fear of the imminent Cross, that he sweats drops of blood (Luke 22:44). Becuase Jesus knows exactly what we go through as humans, we have a Savior who can sympathize with all of our weaknesses and thus can help us in our times of need (Hebrews 4:15-16).
Friend of Sinners
The Person of Christ is not just a side issue of the faithâ€”it is the faith! The center of Christianity is the unique person of Jesus Christ. What a person believes about the divinity and humanity of Christ makes, literally, an eternity of difference. Jesus had to be fully God and fully Man in order to be an acceptable substitute on our behalf and to make atonement for fallen mankind on the Cross. As the perfect God-Man, Jesus is not only willing but able to save those who would call out to Him. He is willing because He knows what itâ€™s like to be human and He cares and understands what weâ€™re going through and has compassion because He has felt all the same things. But also, as the Almighty God, Jesus is able to save and has infinite resources of divine power to pour into our lives to heal us and redeem us and grow us into shining examples of His grace. Indeed, we have a friend in Jesus!
For more info about Jesus, read the Gospel of John. We also recommend the book, Vintage Jesus, by Mark Driscoll.