Part two in the Bible Basics series…
There is no doubt that the most beloved and controversial figure in all of history is Jesus. He divides time (B.C. /A.D.) and divides human kind between those who believe in Him and those who do not. The second study in our “Bible Basics” series will attempt to give you an overview of Jesus. Again the impossibility of this is obvious, but we will look to God’s Word and let God Himself clear up any misunderstandings or misconceptions we may have of Who Jesus is. From the promise of the Messiah in Gen.3:15 (…her seed…) to the fulfillment of all things in the book of Revelation, the Bible has One central figure; Jesus. He is called “The Christ”, that is His office (not His last name!), and that office is the Messiah, also called “the Anointed One”
If we were to ask a thousand people what they thought of Jesus we’d probably get a thousand different answers. Every religion in the world has an opinion about Who Jesus was, we will see not only Who Jesus was, but Who He is today. There are five different categories we will look at briefly of course, and again I encourage you to take notes and examine this material for yourself at home. (Yes, it’s that important!) Those five categories are these; His Pre-existence, His Incarnation, His Deity, His Claims, and His Return.
1.) “The Pre-existence of Christ” = If we only think of Jesus as the guy in the N.T. Who healed people we will miss a large part of His story. The pre-existent Christ is made clear in Gen.1:26 when God says; “…let Us make man in Our image…” Our first hint is that God is not alone as we understand alone. Remember how we understand the Trinity? That’s right, we don’t! But if God is saying “Us” and “Our”, then He is including more than His singular Self in the conversation. John’s Gospel also addresses Christ in the creation in chap.1 verses 1-4. (See also Col.1:16-17)
In addition to Jesus being present in all eternity and the active Creator of all things, He would put in an occasional guest appearance here on earth before His incarnation. Those appearances of Jesus in the O.T. are called “Theophanies” or appearances of Christ in the O.T., usually referred to as “The Angel of the Lord” as opposed to “an” angel of the Lord. A couple of good ones to refer to would be Gen.18:1-15 (12-15), Joshua 5:13-6:2, Judges 6:11-14, and Dan.3:25 amongst many others.
This does not even take into account all the prophecies made in the O.T. concerning the coming Messiah. So with all these O.T. references to a pre-incarnate Christ we can have no doubt that Jesus does indeed exist in eternity and because He exists in eternity, He existed before the creation of this world. He made special guest appearances in the world before He came in the flesh always as an active participant in the affairs of His creation.
2.) “The Incarnation of Christ” = Incarnation simply means His appearing in the flesh. The term “Messiah” simply means “The Anointed One”. Just to take a couple of O.T. references to set the stage, let’s go back to Gen.3:15 and note the prophecy of the virgin birth of the Savior, “her seed”. As we all know the woman does not carry the “seed”, but rather the “egg”. And although satan would inflict damage on the coming Messiah (“…bruise His heel…”), the Messiah would destroy satan. (“…crush your head…”). Move on to Isaiah 9:6, where not only is the Messiah promised but His Deity is clearly declared. We could exhaust ourselves studying O.T. prophecies concerning Jesus, but let’s move on to the N.T. for a few references. Start with Matthew 1:18-23 and Luke 1:26-38. Both stories that we commonly hear around Christmas! Not stories only, but history that bears’ further study. God in His eternal wisdom foresaw the condition of mankind after the fall and had prepared from all eternity His Son, to come to earth in the likeness of man. See Phil.2:5-11 for an excellent description of the events.
(Another fruitful field of study is the names and titles used for Jesus in the N.T. In John 1 Jesus is called the “Word of God”. Along with His claims concerning Himself (next), this is an area worth studying. We will not get into that today, but we’ll touch on it in some of our other studies in this series as we see the plan of God unfold.)
There really is no historian of any kind who denies that a person named Jesus existed 2,000 years ago. The argument is over whether Jesus is Who He claims to be. That’s brings us to our next heading.
3.) “The Claims of Christ Concerning Himself” = There are 7 to bring to your attention, and very briefly they are;
A.) “I Am the Bread of Life” = John 6:35, 41, 48-51. Jesus claims that He alone can satisfy the spiritual hunger for our souls. He not only sustains life but He gives it as the Author of life. He is the True food for your soul.
B.) “I Am the Light of the World” = John 8:12, 9:5, 12:46. Jesus claims that He alone is the Light that illuminates our hearts and souls. If you want to see spiritually, if you want to see the path that He has marked out for you, then Jesus claims that He is The Light, and that He gives that illumination.
C.) “I Am the Door” = John 10:7-9 Jesus here claims that if you are a Sheep (one of His followers), then the only way into “salvation” (vs.10) and “pasture” (good feeding), is through Him. Interesting to note that Jesus mentions that there are others (all who came before me), so we have a choice, but for salvation and feeding there is only One.
D.) “I Am the Good Shepherd” = John 10:11-14 Jesus claims here that if you are a Sheep (one of His followers), then any real protection will come from Him. Again He states that there will be those who are false shepherds, but that those who know Him will recognize Him by the way He cares for the sheep.
E.) “I Am the Resurrection and the Life” = John 11:25 Note that He did not claim to be able to resurrect, or to be able to give life (though that is all true), but He claimed to be the resurrection and the life. In Him is life after death, life eternal.
F.) “I Am the Way the Truth and the Life” = John 14:6 Again Jesus did not claim to be a way, a truth, or a life, but rather “THE”. There is hardly any greater claim of exclusivity in all of scripture. He doesn’t claim to teach about these things or show the way, He simply claims that He is these things.
G.) “I Am the True Vine” = John 15:1-5 Jesus claims that if we know Him we now draw His life from Him, and that His life now flows into us as vine into the branch. If we want to live and be fruitful we will stay attached to Him for life and fruitfulness, and that not of ourselves, it is from Him into us.
The reason I bring these claims to your attention is this; when we read the claims that Christ made about Himself, we have only one of three conclusions to come to. From C.S. Lewis via Josh McDowell, Jesus is either a liar, a lunatic or He really is Lord. No sane individual would make such claims about Himself if he was not one of these things. Jesus’ claims about Himself are perhaps the most striking thing to study in God’s Word and the very things that set Jesus apart from any other figure in history, religious or otherwise. There is no one else in the world who has ever made those claims, then went on to prove them! That brings us to our next point…
4.) “The Deity of Christ” = Simply claiming to be God does not make someone God. Mental institutions all have someone claiming to be God or Jesus. How did Jesus prove His deity? First and foremost are His miracles. Each one demonstrates that He has the power to suspend the “laws of nature” for the purpose of demonstrating His Deity. Here are just a few examples; Matt.8:23-27 (even the wind and the sea obey Him), John 11:38-44 (if you would believe you would see the glory of God), and perhaps one of my favorites, Luke 5:18-26 (who can forgive sins but God alone?).
We also have scriptures like John 1:1, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Or Col.2:9, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” But let’s also separate this out like we did last week in establishing the attributes of God Himself.
A.) Omnipotence of Jesus = He is all powerful, Is.9:6, Matt.28:18, John 5:21, 10:17-18, Col.1:17, Rev.1:8.
B.) Omnipresence of Jesus = He is everywhere at all times, Matt.18:20, Matt.28:20, Eph.1:22-23, Heb.13:5.
C.) Omniscience of Jesus = He knows everything, Matt.9:4, John 1:48-49, 2:24, 16:29-30, 21:17.
As we saw in the previous post concerning God Himself, we noted that these attributes are possessed by God alone, yet Jesus Himself demonstrates these very same attributes. There can only be one conclusion, and that is that Jesus is in fact God in the flesh. 1John 4:2-3 says that this one issue is the dividing point between the true followers and teachers of Christ and the false ones. Now, lastly…
5.) “The Return of Christ” = In all of the things we have looked at this morning, they have all been fulfilled by Jesus. There is only one thing that remains for us, Jesus’ return. In John 14:1-2 Jesus made the promise. 1Thess.4:16 describes the next event on the prophetic calendar, the rapture of the Church. Once the Church is removed from this earth, then all hell brakes loose in what the Bible calls the Great Tribulation. Seven years of satan having his way and God intervening in judgment. Then, at the end of that seven year period (Daniel’s 70th week, Dan.9:24-27), Jesus Himself will physically return to earth to clean up the wreckage and to rule and reign. (Rev.19)
I mention this because everything Jesus ever said or did was complete. The only thing left and remaining is this. After Jesus fulfilled everything else, what are the odds He will come back as He claimed? In His birth, life, death and resurrection Jesus fulfilled over 300 prophecies concerning Himself, I think He will fulfill this last one too.
But now the question becomes this; is this the Jesus you know? Or have you believed in some other Jesus? Even a Jesus of your own making? Jesus as He is recorded in God’s Word is the only One Who saves, the only One with the power to rescue you and me from a life of futility and an eternity in hell. His life, death and resurrection from the dead declares Jesus as the only One in all of human history to have done so. Is your faith in Him today? Or in a Jesus who is not savior at all?