Any discussion about Jesus Christ must be approached with reverence and awe. Jesus occupies a unique place in God’s plan. He is the source of salvation, and central to God’s plan of redemption for mankind. Unfortunately, much of Christianity has misunderstood who Jesus was and is. This misunderstanding does not exalt Jesus, as they might claim, but instead makes a mockery of his life and work. For, if Jesus was God, as many claim, then He didn’t really suffer or die, because God is immortal. Let’s look at some of the facts the Bible teaches us about Jesus Christ, then deal with some of the wrong thinking about Him.
Facts Concerning Jesus
2,000 years ago, in Israel, Mary and Joseph, both descended from King David, were engaged to each other. The angel Gabriel visited Mary and told her that “the power of the Most High” (Luke 1:35) would “overshadow” her, and that she would conceive a child. God’s power (the Holy Spirit) caused Mary to become pregnant. An angel also told Joseph about this great event, and instructed him to name the child “Jesus” (a Greek version of the Hebrew name “Joshua”, meaning “God will save”), because “he shall save his people from their sins”.(Matthew 1:21) Mary was a virgin, so the conception of Jesus was one of the great miracles of scripture. Mary and Joseph did as they were instructed, and the child was born in a manger (feed trough) in a stable in Bethlehem. (Luke 2:7)
Notice that Jesus was “born”. Scripture never describes His coming into human existence as “God turning into man,” or similar terms. Jesus had a very clear beginning of existence, at the point of his conception. So He was “born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4) , Mary, yet God was His Father. He is called “Son of Man” (Mark 10:45) and “Son of God,” (Matt 27:43, 54) but never “God the Son”.
Jesus grew up as an ordinary child in an ordinary household. By the age of twelve, He had an extraordinary grasp of the Hebrew scriptures (the Old Testament). He was able to confound the religious experts with His understanding of God’s word, yet at the same time He remained obedient to His parents.(Luke 2:41-52)
At the age of thirty, Jesus began His public ministry, teaching the good news (“gospel”) of the Kingdom of God. The ceremony that marked this beginning was His baptism, by His cousin John The Baptist.(Mark 1:1,9). John understood that Jesus was destined to great things, and initially thought that he was unworthy to baptize Jesus, but Jesus insisted that this was the appropriate manner for Him to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3:15) – in other words, to demonstrate His obedience to God.
Jesus conducted his ministry with the help of twelve hand-picked men called apostles. (Luke 6:13-16). After 3 ½ years He was put to death by crucifixion. (Luke 23:33). This was a form of criminal punishment used by the Romans. (Luke 23:39-41). The Bible is very clear in emphasizing that Jesus did nothing deserving of death. (Acts 2:23-24; Acts 4:10-12; 1 Peter 2:21-24; 1 Peter 3:18). In fact, he lived a completely sinless life. (Hebrews 4:15). By human standards, His execution was completely unjust. However, this was all part of God’s plan of redemption for mankind, and showed God’s complete righteousness. (Romans 3:21-26) We’ll explain
more about this in a later article, titled “The Role of Christ Today”.
After 3 days inside a tomb, Jesus was miraculously raised from the dead. Unlike others who had been raised before him, such as Lazarus (John 11:43-44), He was raised to immortality. After 40 days, He ascended to heaven, from the mount of Olives, which is a hillside overlooking the city of Jerusalem. His disciples watched His ascent, as two angels stood by and told them that, one day in the future, Jesus would return physically and visibly to that exact same spot, to establish the Kingdom of God on earth forever. (Acts 1:9-11).
Jesus is now an immortal, glorified being who sits at the right hand of God, as the head of the Church, and High Priest of all who believe in His name and follow Him. (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Summary of the facts
- Jesus was born
- Jesus lived a life of obedience to and dependence upon God
- Jesus was tempted, in the same ways all of us are tempted, but He never sinned
- Jesus died
- Jesus was raised from the dead by God
- Jesus was made immortal
- Jesus now sits on the right hand of God in heaven, waiting for the appointed time to return to earth.
These facts demonstrate the clear, simple truth of the Bible: Jesus was God’s son – a very special person, completely unique in mankind’s history- not only because of His family tree, but also because of His total obedience to God. But, Jesus was NOT God ! In fact, scripture is emphatic that He was a separate and distinct person from God:
Why Jesus Cannot Be God
The table below shows why Jesus cannot be God:
|Is called ‘Son of God’||Luke 1:35||Is called ‘God the Father’||John 6:27|
|Was born||Luke 2:11||Is from everlasting to everlasting||Psalm 90:2|
|Was tempted||Matthew 4:1-25||Cannot be tempted||James 1:13-14|
|Overcame sin||Hebrews 4:15||Cannot sin||Matthew 5:48|
|Was obedient to God||Philippians 2:9||Is supreme||Psalm 24:1|
|Was seen||1 John 1:1||God cannot be seen||1 Timothy 6:16|
|Had limited knowledge||Matthew 24:36||Knows everything||1 John 3:20|
|Died||Acts 2:23||God is immortal – cannot die||1 Timothy 6:16|
|Was raised from the dead||Acts 2:24||God raised Him !||Acts 2:24|
|Now sits at God’s right hand||Acts 2:33||God’s throne always in heaven||Psalm 103:19|
|Will return to earth||Acts 1:11||Is everywhere present||Psalm 139:7-16|
Jesus Christ Glorified
Jesus Christ is worthy of our praise and devotion because of His life of total obedience to God, and because of the great sacrifice He made on our behalf. Jesus opened the way to salvation for all mankind because He submitted even to the point of death on the cross. (Philippians 2:8).
The Bible explains that this is the reason that Jesus was glorified, and is to be worshipped by us – not because He was God, but because He overcame sin by His sinless life, and so conquered death.(Acts 2:24) Examine these passages closely:
Jesus Is Our Example
While it is true that Jesus was NOT God, He did show us, by His perfect life and character, what God is truly like. Before Jesus was born, people could know and understand God to a certain degree, but it required a completely obedient Son to fully demonstrate God’s character. (Hebrews 1:1-3). This is what John meant when he wrote “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” (John 1:18 AV). The Bible also speaks of Jesus being the “likeness” of God, (2 Corinthians 4:4-6) just as Adam and Eve had been created prior to their sinning in the Garden of Eden. (Genesis 1:27). He is a true and perfect representation of God’s character. As such, Jesus teaches us by His example how we can be like God – not just by the things He said, but by the way He behaved. And while none of us will ever be able to live completely sinless lives as Jesus did, it does not mean we should stop trying. God has provided us the best example we could possibly have to follow by giving His only Son. This is God’s ultimate expression of love to us,(John 3:16) and we should return that love by trying to live faithful lives of obedience to Christ’s commandments, for God’s glory.