Your child sees a crucifix and asks, “Why is that man hanging on a cross?”
You hear the song Jesus is King and wonder to yourself, “King of what?”
You see a social media post calling Jesus the Answer and wonder “What was the question?”
Perhaps you grew up in a different faith tradition, or none at all, and wonder: “Was Jesus a real person or a myth?” or “Why do people worship a convict who was executed more than two thousand years ago?”
Depending upon who you ask, you’ll get many different answers to the question, “Who is Jesus?”
Atheists may accept the overwhelming evidence that He was a historical person, but reject the spiritual realities associated with his life and death.
Media preachers may portray him as someone who gives blessings to those who send a check to their ministry.
Others may present him as a prophet like Moses or Mohammed, still others a mystical guru who brings enlightenment.
Let’s cut through the confusion. While it is true that there are many people and religions with differing opinions on a variety of topics, it is also true that Christians have made the same essential claims about Jesus Christ that were taught by his disciples in the first century and affirmed in every generation since.
What Can You Do?
JESUS IS HUMAN
Jesus was a flesh-and-blood human being who walked the earth during a specific period of history for about thirty-three years.
There is more documentary evidence for the life of Jesus than Plato, Socrates, and many other ancient figures combined. But Christian theology is quick to point out that Jesus was unlike any other person who ever walked the earth. Why?
He Performed Miracles – Jesus did some amazing things that required supernatural power including healing the sick, walking on water, giving sight to those born blind, and raising the dead back to life. The miracles he did confirmed that he was different than any other mere teacher or prophet. After his death by crucifixion, he pulled off the biggest miracle of all by rising from the dead after three days in the grave.
He Taught Radical Ideas – Contrary to popular opinion, Jesus did not teach the same basic ideas as other spiritual gurus and prophets. In fact, many of the things he taught about God, faith and life were so offensive to the religious establishment of his day that they demanded his death. His followers continued these same teachings, causing many of them to be persecuted and killed by government and religious officials for thousands of years right up to our day.
He Was Perfect – Jesus lived a sinless life, something no one else has ever done. That means he could represent and replace all other human beings when he willingly endured the penalty of human sin on the cross.
JESUS IS GOD
The claim that has upset so many is that Jesus is both man and God.
Every other world religion claims to have a sacred book giving inspiration, guidance, rules, or instructions from God. But the Christian sacred book (the Bible) makes a far more radical claim in the Gospel of John. “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” In other words, Jesus is God “incarnate” which means “made flesh.”
How can someone be both man and God at the same time? This is the great mystery of the Christian faith. A mystery is not a puzzle to be solved but is something that has been revealed to us even though we can’t fully grasp or explain it. But we accept it for several important reasons.
Jesus Claimed It – In John 8:58, Jesus said “Very truly I tell you, before Abraham was born, I am.” Those who heard Him took up stones to kill Him because they knew that He was claiming to be the same God called “I Am” who appeared to Moses in the burning bush thousands of years before. He made many such claims during His earthly ministry.
The Disciples Taught It: Jesus’ closest disciples became leaders of the early Christian church, and most of them were martyred (killed) for affirming that Jesus was God and that He proved His deity by rising from the dead. Despite the threat of death, all of them proclaimed Jesus to be, in the words of the skeptical Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28)
Early Christians Defended It: In every generation, church leaders have defended the claim that Jesus is both God and Man despite brutal attacks and intense persecution. To this day, Christian churches continue to repeat a short creed (summary of orthodox Christian belief) handed down through the generations. It states, “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God… true God from true God, begotten not created of the same essence as the Father, through whom all things came into being, both in heaven and in earth.”
JESUS IS SAVIOR
Jesus lived, died, and rose from the grave in order to save men and women from the penalty of sin.
A religious leader asked Jesus to explain his teachings and miracles. Jesus answered by explaining why He came. “For God so loved the world that he gave one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through Him.” (John 3:16-17)
Every generation of Christians have affirmed that Jesus Christ came to save us. As summarized in the most widely quoted Christian creed, “Who for us men and for our salvation came down and was incarnate, becoming human. He suffered and the third day rose, and ascended into the heavens.”
As both God and Man, Jesus is the only person qualified to redeem a lost world. He willingly sacrificed Himself on our behalf. He rose from the grave to defeat death. And He offers salvation to all who believe.
Now that’s someone worth following!