My last post – last Tuesday – asked a series of questions about who Jesus really is. I asked anyone who read the post to comment by answering those questions, and although no one commented, I am still going to finish up the week by answering those questions based on my own personal knowledge and experience, but more importantly, the truths about Jesus portrayed in the Bible and outlined in my study throughout the week. Forgive the length of today’s post – it’s really a summary of a whole week’s worth of posts rolled up into one.
The first point to make is that the first question – who is Jesus to you, personally? – is not really an important question. Don’t get me wrong – it is important for your own salvation, because if your answer to question #1 and question #2 (who is the Jesus in the Bible?) are completely different and irreconcilable, then you don’t know the Jesus of the Bible and therefore are not saved. I know that is a seemingly harsh statement to make, but Jesus didn’t leave any wiggle room in this area. He stated it plainly:
“6Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’ ” (John 14:6).
And Peter made the same point clear in his speech, recorded in Acts 4:10-12:
10then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11He is ‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the capstone. 12Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.
So in the end, the answer the first question is only important in light of the second question.
The best place to start in answering these questions is to answer the final question – How can we know who Jesus really is? And the best answer for this is that the Bible says so. Now, if someone doesn’t believe the Bible to be a reliable book, then they aren’t in a place to know who Jesus really is, because the Bible is the only source from which we can learn anything factual about Jesus. But as we have discussed in the previous week’s posts, the Bible is, as Voddie Baucham puts it, ” a reliable collection of historical documents written down by eyewitnesses during the lifetime of other eyewitnesses. They report supernatural events that took place in fulfillment of specific prophecies and claimed that their writing are divine rather than human in origin.” So we can fully rely on what is written in the Bible and know that it trumps any other book or any experience we may have. Therefore, what it says about Jesus is true. The Bible is how we can get to know Jesus.
The next question to answer is who the Jesus of the Bible really is. This week’s studies outlined what is surely a very long answer, and I will condense it even further here:
- Jesus is God. This means that He is eternal and that he shares the Father’s nature and essence. John 1:1-2 says “1In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was with God in the beginning.” Although it’s hard to understand, Jesus is both God and with God, and therefore shares the characteristics of God and has been around since before time began (which answers question #3). The best explanation I have ever seen of this was in Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis:
What God begets is God; just as what man begets is man. What God creates is not God; just as what man makes is not man. That is why men are not Sons of God in the sense that Christ is. They may be like God in certain ways, but they are not things of the same kind. They are more like statues or pictures of God…In God’s dimension, so to speak, you find a being who is three Persons while remaining one Being, just as a cube is six squares while remaining one cube. Of course we cannot fully conceive a Being like that: just as, if we were so made that we perceived only two dimensions in space we could never properly imagine a cube.
Jesus, therefore, being begotten by God the Father, and not created by Him, is all God. God can be more than one person and still be one being. Again, this is hard to understand, but it’s important to know that Jesus is all God.
- Jesus is a man. Although Jesus is all God, he is also all man. Philippians 2:5-8 says:
5Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 7but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 8And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on a cross!
Jesus’ life was the purest example of humility. He laid aside His strength and abilities, choosing to to take on the form of a man, a weak human body, and to serve those around Him in the process, no less!
- Jesus is Lord. Because He humbled Himself, God the Father exalted Him as Lord over everything:
9Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, 10that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11)
- Jesus created all things. The eternal nature of Jesus, as discussed in point #1 above, implies that He was around during the creation of everything. But Colossians 1:15-17 states plainly that Jesus was the creator:
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For 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. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
- Jesus is the only way to Heaven. Probably the most controversial aspect of Jesus is the fact that He is the exclusive way to God the Father, and therefore to Heaven. Exclusive means that every other way is excluded. No other religion, no amount of good works, no other method will allow you access to the Father. Only Jesus can do that. As I said above, He left no wiggle room in this area. People throughout the world, and especially in America, live their lives assuming that Heaven is the default destination. But Voddie Baucham makes in illustration in today’s lesson that I think makes the point the best:
Image a bride dressed in a long, flowing, white wedding gown. She stands in front of a beautiful new house waiting to be carried across the threshold. Her eyes are filled with the joy, anticipation, and excitement of a newlywed. As the man of her dreams approaches, she closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, extends her arms, and… Before we finish the story, let’s add a twist. The woman has never met the man approaching her. She merely saw the house being built and decided it was the place she wanted to spend the rest of her life. On its completion she learned of the anticipated move-in date and showed up in a wedding gown expecting to be embraced, swept off her feet, and married… This scenario might seem outrageous, but it is exactly what people do when they expect to spend eternity with Jesus without having given their lives to Him beforehand. An unbeliever’s expectation to spend life without Jesus and eternity with Him is like expecting the previous story to have a happy ending; it’s not going to happen!
This week’s study on the Search for the Real Jesus was very rewarding for me, and hopefully if you come across these posts, you will get something from them, too. Knowing Jesus is the most important aspect of our lives – no one else has the power to erase our pasts, empower us for the present, and give us a hope for the future. Only in Jesus do we find what we were truly made for, so knowing who He truly is one of the most crucial things we can learn.