Looking Deeper. Who is. Jesus?

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1 Looking Deeper Who is Jesus?

2 Looking Deeper Who is Jesus? Good teacher, judgemental perfectionist, some crazy guy, a children s story. There are many versions of Jesus out there. What about the idea that this Jewish man, who lived 2,000 years ago, is actually God? How could anyone believe that!? Maybe Jesus was a good guy who lived a long time ago but the creator of the world? Really?... The belief that Jesus Christ is God is at the very heart of Christianity. But this claim sounds ridiculous to many. So, aside from the things we think we know, and the things we ve been told by our friends or parents, who is the real Jesus?

3 Why does it matter? As well as claiming He is God, Christians call Jesus their Saviour, saying that His purpose in coming to earth was to save us. Christ means the Chosen One. Jesus means the one who saves. So Jesus Christ is the chosen one who will save us (i.e our Saviour). They believe it is only by His life, death and resurrection that anyone can be rescued. But rescued from what? God created us to live with Him. But we prefer to live without Him, doing our own things, living our own lives, setting our own priorities and valuing ourselves above Him. And we are all guilty: there is none righteous, no, not one (Romans 3:10). We all ignore God, our Creator. This is what the Bible calls sin. And the penalty for sin is death. Christians believe that Christ, God Himself, came to earth to pay that penalty for us and die in our place. There is none righteous, no, not one Romans 3:10 This is why it is so important to be sure who Jesus really is. If He is just another ordinary person, like any one of us, then He simply can t save us. Only God, who is perfect and doesn t have His own sin to pay for, can take on our sin for us and die for us. That is why it is essential that we know if Jesus is God or [2] WHO IS JESUS?

4 not, and if He is able to save us as He claims. But how can we trust someone who claims to be God? Anyone who says they re God, but isn t, should be avoided! And they definitely shouldn t be called good or wise they d have to be insane! Jesus means the one who saves So, because Jesus said very clearly that He is God, He is either crazy... or He s telling the truth. In order to decide, we need to look at more than guesses or opinions. We need evidence. Some people think there should be evidence outside of the Bible about Jesus. They are sure that someone who had actually done miracles and gained a following should have been mentioned in other historical texts. And they are right! WHY DOES IT MATTER? [3]

5 The evidence The Jewish teacher and a military leader Josephus (37 c.100 ad), the Roman senator Pliny the Younger (61 c.113 ad) and the Roman historian Tacitus (c ad), amongst many others, all wrote about Jesus. Josephus calls Christ a wise man and a doer of surprising works. In a letter to the Emperor, Pliny says that Christians worship Christ as a god. Tacitus notes Christ as the founder of a rebellious religion ( rebellious because it was not a religion of the Roman Empire), and mentions that He was executed by order of Pontius Pilate. None of these writers were followers of Christ. Yet they all accepted Jesus existed and that His followers thought He was God. The book containing the most evidence about Jesus identity, however, is the Bible. The Bible clearly states that Jesus is God. The Bible has been inspected by scholars for nearly 2,000 years who keep Records from ancient civilizations confirm biblical stories, timelines and characters as factual finding it to be reliable and accurate. Records from ancient civilizations confirm biblical stories, timelines [4] WHO IS JESUS?

6 and characters as factual (find out more about this in Can we really trust the Bible? at ourdailybread.org/ lookingdeeper). This is important. If the Bible is accurate according to other historical texts, then we need to listen to all that it says about Jesus. If we know that the Bible matches the facts about Jesus identity, then we need to read it to discover more than facts. We need to find out the truth of who He was: His character, personality and actions. He really existed, but was He really God? The Bible clearly states that Jesus is God THE EVIDENCE [5]

7 The Bible The Old Testament The Old Testament part of the Bible was written many hundreds of years before Jesus was born. Many details about the coming Saviour ( Christ ) were predicted by the writers in several books of the Old Testament. Jesus life and death fulfilled these prophecies with incredible accuracy. Let s look at just few of these: Isaiah 7:14: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel. The name Immanuel literally means God with us and is a prediction that the coming Christ would be God. The writer goes on to call this child who would be born: Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6). Micah 5:2. This prophecy predicts Bethlehem as the birthplace of the coming ruler: But you, Bethlehem... out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. Isaiah 53. Here we read several clear predictions about the future Christ: He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem. Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered him punished by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the [6] WHO IS JESUS?

8 punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. (vv. 3-5 niv). Not only was the Christ going to be God Himself, He would suffer so that we could receive peace and healing from God. His death would be the means by which the split between God and us (caused by our selfcentredness) would be mended. The prophecy in Isaiah 53 continues by telling us that the Christ would die for our wrongdoings and sorrows willingly (vv. 6-7). Why does it matter that the Old Testament makes some predictions about the coming Christ? The New Testament The New Testament (written by people who were alive at the same time as Jesus) is filled with references to how Jesus fulfils the promises of the Old Testament. The Old Testament is like the Christ s CV, and the New Testament shows that Jesus fits the criteria perfectly! Let s look at some examples! Matthew 1:22 23 says: So all this was done [an angel appearing to Joseph in a dream to explain Mary s pregnancy] that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying: Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Immanuel, which is translated, God with us. This passage also goes on to say that Jesus was born in Bethlehem (Matthew 2:1-6), fulfilling the prophecy of Micah. Also the promise of Isaiah 53:6 7 was fulfilled by Jesus when He was arrested and sentenced to death. He did not fight the arrest, but went willingly to the cross for us. There are many other prophecies that were fulfilled by Jesus; too many to go into in this booklet. Why not ask a THE BIBLE [7]

9 Christian friend or one of your church leaders to share with you some of the other ways Jesus proved His identity? We can also find out more about who Jesus was by listening to the words of those who knew Him best. The words of His followers John, one of Jesus first followers, wrote his eye-witness account of Jesus life. Near the beginning of his book he said this of Jesus: We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth (John 1:14 niv). John said that Jesus, as God, came from the Father, to be seen and live as a man. On several occasions John records Jesus speaking in clear terms about His identity. Have a look at some of them: 8:23, 58; 14:1-7. John wasn t alone in saying that Jesus was God. Paul, one of the earliest followers of Jesus who had previously hated Christians, wrote many letters to different people and churches. Paul always confirmed that Jesus is God. Philippians 2:5 7: Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God... made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. Here Jesus is presented as fully God and man. He always existed as God. But He willingly laid aside His glory to become the God-man the humble Servant, obedient to death. Jesus was God and remained God, even when He became a man. Were John and Paul (and many, many others) just mistaken about Jesus? Were they deliberately lying about Him? Did they dream up the idea of Jesus as God? Not at all! Jesus Himself said He was God. [8] WHO IS JESUS?

10 Jesus own words The most important thing to consider when it comes to Jesus is what He actually said about Himself. He made some shocking claims! He taught His disciples and said to them, The Son of Man [another title for Jesus] is being betrayed into the hands of men, and they will kill Him. And after He is killed, He will rise the third day. But they did not understand this saying, and were afraid to ask Him. Mark 9:30 32 Jesus was very clear about His identity and His mission He came to die for us and to rise from the dead after three days. So let s look at some of the different reactions Jesus got. The Jewish listeners understood Jesus perfectly. In fact, His words made them very angry because He claimed to be God so they actually tried to kill Him! In one tense conversation between Jesus and a group of Jewish leaders, He said, Before Abraham was, i am! (John 8:58). The phrase i am is another name for God, which God used in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14). The Jewish religious leaders understood perfectly that Jesus was calling Himself God. And they refused to believe Him. Instead they wanted to kill Him for claiming to be God, by stoning Him with rocks. At another time when Jesus was teaching publicly, He asked: Who do people say that I, the Son of Man, am? (Matthew 16:13). After hearing the many things the crowds thought He was (a good man, teacher, etc.), He then asked the same question to His closest followers, Who do you say that I am? (v.15). His followers, who knew Him the best, thought something very different. THE BIBLE [9]

11 Simon Peter said, You are the Christ, the Son of the living God (v.16). Instead of rejecting this statement that He was God, Jesus agreed saying, Blessed are you, Simon... for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven (v.17). Jesus claimed to be God and wanted His disciples to believe and depend upon this truth as well. Finally, it is worth noting that doubt was also a common reaction. More than a week after Jesus had risen from the dead, Thomas (another follower of Jesus) had not yet seen Him. No one could convince Thomas that Jesus was alive. Unless I see in His hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and put my hand into His side, I will not believe (John 20:25). After eight days His disciples were again inside, and Thomas with them. Jesus came, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace to you! Then He said to Thomas, Reach your finger here, and look at My hands; and reach your hand here, and put it into My side. Do not be unbelieving, but believing. John 20:26 27 Jesus understood Thomas doubt and, rather than rejecting Thomas, He did everything necessary to assure Thomas of the truth. Awestruck, Thomas replied, My Lord and my God! (v.28). With these words, Thomas admitted that Jesus, having risen from the dead, was indeed God! Jesus understands our doubt too and He appreciates our honesty. He wants us to speak with Him and read about Him in the Bible so that we can be sure of who He is. [10] WHO IS JESUS?

12 Who do you say He is? C. S. Lewis, a Christian author, explains that we only have three options about Jesus identity: A man who... said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. 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 [nonsense] about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. Basically, Lewis is saying that if Jesus is not God, then He was either insane or lying. But those who knew Jesus recognised He wasn t mad or a liar. They knew He was God. They even wrote eye-witness accounts of Him so we could know the truth. Many died rather than deny that He was God. Jesus life, death and resurrection, along with His love and wisdom, can t be explained by insanity or an evil mind. Jesus words and actions show that He is God. Jesus fulfilled the prophecies about the One who would be God on earth. He showed the character and love of the eternal God. He did things only God could do. WHO DO YOU SAY HE IS? [11]

13 A lunatic can claim anything, but he can t deliver. A liar can play amazing mind games, but he can t prove anything he says and will eventually be found out. Jesus was born where the God-man was to be born, lived as the Jesus words and actions show that He is God God-man should have lived, died as the God-man was to die and lived again as only the God-man could. Who do you think Jesus is? Your future and eternal life depends on your decision. It is important not to ignore Jesus, but to make a choice. Talk to someone in your church or any other Christians you know. Ask them who Jesus is to them; and ask them why. [12] WHO IS JESUS?

14 Looking Deeper The Looking Deeper series offers great Bible teaching for Christians. Whether you are a new Christian or a mature believer, we have a range of short Bible studies on many crucial topics and questions. At Our Daily Bread Ministries, our mission is to make the life changing wisdom of God s Word understandable and accessible to all. We re passionate about helping our readers draw closer to God and share their faith in Him with those they know. Please do share these Looking Deeper articles with others who may benefit from them. You can request print copies of any of the titles on the Looking Deeper website page. All our resources are available to all without any obligation to donate. However, should you wish to support Our Daily Bread Ministries financially, you can do so by clicking the link below. I WOULD LIKE TO DONATE

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