We can ask endless questions about God: “Does God exist?”, “Is He real?”, “Can we trust what the Bible says about Him?” and “Does my life matter to God?”, just to mention a few.
The Bible may not have all the answers to the questions we pose about God, however one of the questions that the Bible does give a definitive answer to, is the question: Who is Jesus?
Sceptics say he's just 'a great teacher' but Jesus taught he was the Son of God... so does that make him a Liar, Lunatic or... The Lord.
C.S Lewis, a celebrated Christian author wrote of Jesus:
“Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him as a demon or you can fall at his feet and call him Lord and God, but let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.” (Mere Christianity, 55-56)
About 2000 years ago there was a young man from Galilee whose name was Jesus. This is acknowledged by all reputable historians. There are authenticated ancient records which name and place Jesus in an historically confirmable time (Luke 2:1-7). Jesus lived as a Jewish man in the small country town of Nazareth, in northern Israel, under the Roman Empire’s occupation of Judea, during the time of Emperor Augustus. He was, it would seem, a teacher, and had devoted followers.
The historical existence of Jesus is not what is on trial. It is the claims of this man that have formed movements, world history, and the way we live today. When Jesus entered the public arena as a grown man his message was about himself and his actions, by expressively demonstrating that he was no mere man. He said:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour" (Luke 4:18-19).
This is precisely what he did. His words and actions became more radical with each encounter. We read of Jesus forgiving sins and healing a paralysed man. The Jewish religious leaders of the day said only God can forgive sins, but Jesus proclaimed forgiveness, and healed the paralysed man (Luke 5:17-26). Similarly, when, in a funeral procession, Jesus met a grieving mother who had lost her only son, Jesus raised him from death (Luke 7:11-17) — another action only God can do. After many encounters like these, where Jesus did things that only God can do, he asked those who were following him, “Who do you say I am?” and they professed that he is the Son of God (Luke 9:18-20).
Jesus made this declaration of himself too, expressing it in a language that his own Jewish culture would clearly understand. Not only did he do God-things, he claimed for himself the great and majestic God-title: 'I am' (Exodus 3:14 and John 8:12; 10:11; 11:25; 14:6). When on trial for his life before the Jewish religious leaders, Jesus did not renounce who he was but declared that which the leaders crucified him for — he claimed to be God (Luke 22:66-71).
Why does all that matter? If Jesus lived a life of teaching and healing, claimed to be God in person, and he was put to death, then why does this matter now?
It’s because his death didn’t end there, on the third day Jesus was raised to life, defeating death. And that matters because of the great story of the Bible.
The story of the Bible is that God made the Earth, and He made it “good”. It was a wonderful place filled with ability and boundless opportunity. However, human beings, who were created to care for the Earth, delighting in life and living in close relationship with God, did the wrong thing.
The first humans chose to disobey God and take what God said not to take, and were separated from His glorious presence as a penalty. This wrong, where we do things our own way and not God’s way, the Bible calls sin, and the end result is death and separation from God, in this life and the after-life (you can read about this in Genesis 3, and Romans 3). While we believe that the Earth should be wonderful and good, the news media tell us it is not. The reason why things are the way they are is because in every human heart the same problem dwells - sin.
In contrast, Jesus’ life was very different. It was full of power and possibility, and also full of goodness and obedience to God. He lived the life every person should live. But just as in the story of the beginning, where there was goodness and human sin broke it, so it was in Jesus’ life. Where there was goodness in his life, human beings broke that goodness. They executed Jesus, even though they could find no sin or wrong in him.
Jesus’ death was not a defeat. It was a part of God’s plan to make our broken world new again - one soul at a time. As he hung dying on the Cross, Jesus called out "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!" (Luke 23:34). His death allows forgiveness to occur, because it was the sacrifice of a perfect life, given for the forgiveness of the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). And he was raised to life again. His resurrection shows that death (the consequence of sin) is crushed and defeated. Jesus' death allows a new world to begin, by making peace and connecting people to God. It means people can be forgiven, reconciled, adopted as God’s children, and receive eternal life (Ephesians 2:1-10).
The Bible story is about a good world gone bad, and a rescue mission where God, through Jesus, gives everyone a fresh start.
That’s why it matters: because God so loved this world that he gave his only Son so that whoever believes in him won’t perish, but will have eternal life (John 3:16). That promise is for everyone... including you.
So the only question that truly matters now is, "Who is Jesus to me?"
If you would like to find out more about Jesus, we would love to hear from you. At Newstart Church, we are a welcoming community that would love to talk with you about Jesus and will take your questions seriously. Please feel welcome to attend our Sunday service at 10am, or send an email to email@example.com
Adapted from: stjudes.org.au