<<our Saviour, the anointed one>>
Jesus was the human son of Mary and Joseph but He was so much more – He was also the Son of God (Lk 1:32,35; 2:4-7). He was the human face of God sent to earth to restore the fractured relationship between the creator and His creation (1 Tim 1:15). Jesus means Saviour, while Christ is a title which denotes ‘the anointed [or chosen] one of God’. This title was not used until close to His death. At other times in the Bible He is referred to as Jesus Christ, Christ Jesus, or the Lord Jesus Christ with the titles being interchangeable. The word Christ is translated as Messiah (coming one) in the OT.
As ‘God on earth’ Jesus possessed unique characteristics including:
* His eternal existence. Jesus has existed eternally, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit and together they form the deity or Godhead – what we term the Trinity (Jn 1:1). Jesus is called the Son of God as a term of identity and relationship, not offspring as in our human understanding. The title “one and only son” assures us that as the Son of God, Jesus is truly divine (Jn 1:14,18, 3:16, 20:31). The fullness of God's character resides in Jesus and He participated in creating all things (Jn 14:9; 2 Cor 4:4; Col 2:8,9). Hundreds of years before His birth many specific prophecies were made about it, with the assurance that “Everything that is written by the prophets about the Son of Man will be fulfilled” (Lk 18:31).
* His virgin birth and sinless life. God had declared that those who sin will die eternally (Gen 3:3; Ezek 18:4,20; Jn 8:24). To provide for our salvation Jesus took on human form when Mary, His mother, became pregnant by the Holy Spirit (Mt 1:18). This is termed His incarnation. This supernatural event, (being the only person ever born who did not have a genetic human father) is beyond human understanding, and its implications are huge. It was essential for Christ to be a sinless, substitute sacrifice for our sin or else His work would have failed as He would already have been under the death sentence.
Knowing our need He acted with compassion
the will of God (Mt 4:1-10). This proved He was fully God and also fully human. In His human expression, He thought, willed and acted just as a human being would, subject to temptation, suffering and death. Yet in His divine nature, He thought, willed and acted just as God would, using whatever divine attributes were required to advance the heavenly mission on earth. He overcame the world, the flesh and the devil not by means of His divinity, which would have been very unfair, but rather as a person appointed to a task, submissive and obedient; the same way we have to overcome our obstacles.
* His humanity. Few details are given about His early years but it is recorded “He grew and became strong; He was filled with wisdom, and the grace of God was on Him…He was obedient to His parents…He grew in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and men”. He grew up being conscious He was the Son of God with a special calling on His life – which later He acknowledged as having completed (Lk 2:40-52; Jn 19:28,30). Jesus frequently referred to Himself as the Son of Man, identifying with humanity, whom He came to serve. This title combines the reality of His human life with the authority of His divine status as Son of God which will be fully revealed when He returns enthroned in glory (Mt 16:27, 20:28, 24:30, 25:31; Mk 2:7-11, 8:31).
He was a normal human being and took on the carpentry trade of His earthly father, Joseph (Mk 6:3).
Like all of us He was subject to temptation, a lack of sleep, being hungry, suffering abuse, being weary, being thirsty and weeping (Mt 4:1-11, 8:24, 21:18, 26:67; Jn 4:6,7, 11:35).
Jesus was baptised, not to show repentance from sin but, to publicly accept the task of becoming the Saviour and portray His ministry of death and resurrection. God the Father showed His approval of His actions by speaking from heaven (Mt 3:15; Lk 3:22). Jesus has been called “the friend of sinners”, not because He entered into their sin but because they were aware of their sin and recognised He had what they needed – the ability to rid them of it (Mt 11:12,13,19).
* His public ministry. This commenced when He was about 30 years of age and lasted until He was crucified three and a half years later. He declared, “The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because He has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour” (Lk 4:18,19). This was outworked by teaching about God and His coming Kingdom (Mt 4:23); showing us the heart of the Father who is forgiving, compassionate and merciful as He seeks to save the lost (Mt 14:14; Lk 19:10; Jn 14:7-9); doing good and healing those under Satan’s power (Mt 9:35; Act 10:38); as well as performing many miraculous signs so people would believe He was the son of God (Jn 2:11,23). God’s power worked through Him touching people’s physical bodies, forgiving their sin and giving Him authority in the physical realm, because He was in vital fellowship with the Father and relied on Him (Mk 4:39; Lk 4:18,19; Jn 5:19,30, 12:49, 14:10).
Jesus steadfastly set Himself to be ‘God’s man for the job’ , resorting to private times of intense prayer, some lasting all-night, in order to provide the way of salvation for mankind (Lk 6:12; 9:51, 22:42; Jn 9:4). He showed love and compassion to those in physical and spiritual distress and declared He came to seek and save the lost and had authority to forgive sin (Mt 9:1-8; Lk 5:20-26). All the time He was instructing His disciples, and teaching them vital lessons. Even at the last supper meal with them prior to His death He taught them about humility by washing their feet (Jn 13:3-17). Throughout this time, opposition from the religious leaders grew and Jesus spoke of His forthcoming death and resurrection.
* His suffering or passion. Even at an early stage in His ministry, the message He preached was not accepted and people tried to kill Him. Isaiah had predicted He would be ‘familiar with suffering’ (Isa 53:3). He explained to the disciples that He would suffer much at the hands of the religious leaders who opposed Him and that He would, in fact, be killed (Mt 16:21). The Jewish leaders were jealous of His teaching and miracle workings and brought charges against Him. Although the Romans (the ruling authority) didn’t find Jesus guilty they did consent to crowd pressure and gave the authorization for Jesus to be crucified (Mt 26:59, 27:24-26; Lk 23:14,15,22).
Jesus came to give His life as a ransom for many and His attitude was one of love for those who treated Him inhumanely (1 Tim 2:6). He completely entrusted Himself to God while on the cross bearing the penalty for our sin and was even [apparently] forsaken by God for a period (Mt 26:28, 27:46; Mk 10:45; Heb 12:2,3; 1 Pet 2:23). Though His suffering climaxed here, its meaning and purpose are found in His death [and the possibility of our redemption.
Do I know Jesus as Saviour and Lord?
once-only, yet complete, payment for our sin, fulfilling the demands of a righteous God by giving His life as a ransom for us, as foreshadowed in the OT. “Without the shedding of blood (the death of an innocent substitute) there is no forgiveness” (Isa 53:4-6; Mt 20:28; 1 Cor 15:1-8; Gal 3:13; Heb 7:27, 9:22, 10:10-14; 1 Pet 3:18). It was Christ’s death and subsequent resurrection that destroyed the devil’s work and enables us to be brought back into relationship with God, He becoming “the source of eternal salvation for all who obey Him” (Rom 5:10,11; Col 1:13,14, 2:15; Heb 5:9). Thank God, “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” as “The reason the Son of God came to earth was to destroy the devil’s work” (1 Tim 1:15; 1 Jn 3:8).
* His burial. When death had been verified the body of Jesus was placed in a sealed and guarded cave or tomb where it remained for ‘three days’ (Mt 27:62-66; Mk 15:44,45). Jews reckoned days differently and understanding this clarifies the passages that say Jesus was crucified before the Sabbath but rose on the third day. Scripture tells us that during the time His body was in the tomb Jesus (in spirit form) descended into hell and preached the good news of salvation to all those held captive there (1 Pet 3:18,19).
* His resurrection. Early on Sunday morning Jesus was raised to life by the power of God (Mk 16:1-9; Act 10:40). This had been prophesied in the OT, declared by Christ Himself, and later confirmed as a fact by many people (Mk 8:31; Lk 24:25-27,44-48; Act 2:32). The resurrection verified His victory over sin and its penalty of spiritual death (Lev 17:11; Act 2:24; Rom 6:23). Christ’s resurrected body retained the marks of His crucifixion and although He could eat and be touched, He was not limited physically (Lk 24:39,43; Jn 20:19,20,26,27). It seemed to Christ’s followers that His mission was a disaster when He was crucified, however, the perceived tragedy became a triumph when He arose from the grave three days later. The disillusioned disciples, after the day of Pentecost, became bold men preaching the message of salvation with many becoming Christians.
* His ascension to heaven. Over a period of 40 days Jesus appeared several times to His disciples and followers (Act 1:3; 1 Cor 15:6). It was during one of these occasions Jesus gave what is termed the great commission, then was taken up (ascended) into heaven, marking the end of His physical, earthly ministry (Mt 28:19,20; Lk 24:50,51; Act 1:9-11). This prepared for the coming of the Holy Spirit and His empowering of the believers to do what Jesus did (Mk 16:17,18; Jn 14:12, 16:7; Act 1:8).
Join with the multitudes who honour Him – Revelation 5:12
crucifixion (Lk 24:26; Rom 11:25; Heb 12:2). This honour indicated His work of redemption was completed and His right to reign was validated. All other authorities and powers will ultimately be subject to Him, although that is not the case currently (1 Cor 15:24,25,27; Eph 1:19-23; Heb 2:6-9, 10:12,14; 1 Pet 3:21,22). At present this invisible Lordship is acknowledged only by Christians but will be demonstrated when Christ returns as King of kings and Lord of lords and all will then acknowledge His authority and right to rule (Phil 2:9-11; Rev 11:15, 19:16).
See also: end times.
* Christ’s present ministry in heaven. Christ is directing His church, of which He is the head (Eph 4:15, 5:23,24). As the Great High Priest and together with the Holy Spirit He is interceding (praying) for us, before the throne of God (Rom 8:26,27; Heb 4:14-16, 7:25). When we (Christians) sin He becomes the advocate who speaks to the Father in our defence, and helps us in our need (1 Jn 2:1). He is continuing His ministry of prophet (Mt 21:11; Lk 24:19), priest (Heb 4:14-16) and king (Jn 18:36; Rev 15:3). Even now, Christ is preparing an eternal place for all believers (Jn 14:2).
* Christ’s return or Second Advent. He will come back in the same way as He went – visibly in the sky – and all believers will instantly be removed from the earth. This supernatural event is termed the rapture. No one knows when this will be so it is futile to speculate (Mk 13:26,27,32,33; Act 1:11; 1 Cor 15:50-54; 1 Thes 4:13-18).
The Bible’s message:
In the OT sacrificial system a lamb without blemish was sacrificed to atone for sins (Lev 4:32, 5:6). This oft-repeated event only ‘covered’ but did not remove the sinful nature of the people. In contrast, when the perfect Lamb of God (Christ) was slain, He gained the victory over the stranglehold of sin and its penalty by literally giving His life for ours (1 Pet 1:18,19). Each person must decide to either accept or reject this offer of salvation, with those accepting coming into a new vital relationship as children of God and our destiny determined by our relationship to Him (Jn 1:12, 12:48; 1 Jn 3:1,2). It is not by our efforts but only by the grace of God, outworked through Christ, that we will reach heaven (Act 4:12, Eph 2:8,9).
Although “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever”, when He was on earth He laid aside all His divine powers, functioning as a human being, yet without sin (Heb 13:8; 1 Jn 3:5). He was in constant, intimate relationship with His Father, reliant on and obedient to His directions. This enabled Him to bring the freedom and power of heaven to earth. He revealed the key to His authority and life of continual victory – “I can do nothing by myself; I can only do what I see my Father doing…The words I say to you are not my own. Rather it is the Father, living in me, who is doing the work” (Jn 5:19,30, 14:10,24; Act 10:38). To live in intimate connection to God should be our goal also, obeying what we hear from heaven and being anointed with divine power, walking as He walked (Jn 15:5; Act 1:8; Eph 5:18; 1 Jn 2:4-6, 5:3). He was God’s agent on earth and He wants us to carry on that mission in this world while waiting for His return, confident that whatever we give up for Christ’s sake will be small in comparison to what we gain (Mt 28:19,20; Mk 16:17,18; Lk 18:29,30; Jn 14:12).
* Christ is the central figure of Christianity. He never wrote a book yet is the subject of the Bible, the world’s most widely distributed book, and while He didn’t journey outside Israel, His influence is still relevant in meeting the need of lost, unregenerate humanity in all nations today – some two thousand years after He lived on earth. His pivotal role in this world’s history is even recognised in the major division of history – either BC (Before Christ) or AD (after His birth).
* We do not know all we might like to know about Jesus but the Bible records enough for us to believe in Him as the Christ, to accept the gift of salvation and follow Him (Jn 1:12, 20:31; Rom 10:9,10). The offer of salvation involves Christ’s payment of our debt and His supernatural residence within us in the person of the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:17, Rom 8:9; 1 Cor 6:19,20). “Christ in us, [is] the hope of glory” (Jn 17:26; Rom 8:10; Gal 2:20, 4:19; Col 1:27). As He gave His all to save us from eternal damnation, can we offer Him anything less than our all? Through the multi-faceted divine exchange Jesus took all the penalty due to us because of sin and in its place gave us His righteousness.
* Christ’s resurrection is the guarantee that after physical death on this earth we also will be resurrected and enter into eternal life with Him because we are His redeemed children (Jn 5:24; Rom 4:22-25). A believer’s water baptism is their affirmation of the death, burial and resurrection of Christ, and it's ability to have far-reaching application and significance in their life (2 Cor 5:17).
We need life impacting encounters with Jesus, not fleeting surface glimpses
surrender to Him each area of our life, we increasingly come under the reigning power of Jesus Christ, mindful that we will most likely be tested in these areas again in our Christian walk. To Christians (Christ’s ones) He is the Lord – the Master to whom we choose to give our allegience. Gratefully acknowledge His persistence in moulding us besides His activity in and through you.
* Being God in human form, Christ was the ultimate role model of how life should be lived. He demonstrated that to become great one must become ‘the least’ of all (Lk 9:48). He became a servant of humanity in order to accomplish their deliverance (Jn 13:15; Phil 2:7). In the Kingdom of God, love prevails over power. The principles by which His Kingdom operates are the opposite to many of those of this world. On which value system – God's or Satan's – am I basing my life? The Bible states, "Whoever claims to live in Him must walk as Jesus did" (1 Jn 2:6).
* As part of the Godhead Christ knew the mind of God and used the (written) Word of God as His weapon against Satan (Lk 4:1-12; 1 Cor 2:11). We would do well to follow His example. The Scriptures can keep us from sin or sin will keep us from Scripture!