who is Jesus Christ?
The reason God can justly pardon our sin involves Jesus Christ–who he is and what he did. Jesus Christ made his identity known in two ways: by direct spoken claims and by indirect claims through things he did. The apostle John wrote a book to let people know who Jesus Christ is. Toward the end of it he wrote: “Now Jesus did many other signs… which are not written in this book; but these are written that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:30-31).
In John 14:1-11 and 6:35-40, we find some of the direct claims Jesus made for himself. In the fourteenth chapter, he claimed a right to our belief (faith, trust) equal to the belief we have in God. He claimed to be “the way, and the truth, and the life,” the only one by whom we can come to God. He called God his Father, while claiming that if a person knew him he knew God; and he said, “He who has seen me has seen the Father.” He claimed God’s authority behind his words and his works.
In John 6, he said he could satisfy the spiritual hunger and thirst of those who believe in him. He claimed that he came from heaven and that what he did while on earth was according to the will of God. He said that it was the will of God that belief in him (Jesus) should determine who would have eternal life. All of these statements are clear claims to equality with God.
In John 5, we find an incident in which Jesus Christ healed a man on the Sabbath, an act which was unlawful according to the religious leaders of his day. By “working” on the Sabbath and by calling God his Father, Jesus again claimed equality with God. The Jews recognized his claim immediately and sought to kill him for such blasphemy.
Reading further in chapter 5, we find Jesus claiming that, even as God gives life, he can give life. He also says that God has given him the authority to judge all men. In response to his claims, Jesus expects us to honor him even as we honor God. He goes on to make the further claim that if we don’t honor him, we don’t honor God!
In John 5:24, we find that Jesus expects us to respond to his word by believing God. (Even this is another claim to equality with God.) Hearing Jesus’ word and believing God will result in the believer’s passing from death to life.
Jesus made other claims which John recorded, all of which agree with the ones we have studied. The clear conclusion is that Jesus claimed equality with God. In other words, he claimed to be God. If we know Jesus Christ, we know God; and if we know God, we know Jesus Christ.
In the next study, we will consider what Jesus Christ did.
what did Jesus Christ do?
From the record in the Gospels, we find that the three years of Jesus’ public life were busy ones. His time was spent preaching, teaching and healing. He preached and taught because he had a message to communicate to men. His healing is evidence of his love for people and concern for their welfare.
The two actions recorded in Mark 2:1-17 reveal Jesus’ primary mission in life–what he came to do. When a man obviously in need of physical healing was brought to him, Jesus’ first words were, “My son, your sins are forgiven.” When those who heard protested that only God can forgive sins, Jesus performed an obvious miracle of healing to prove that ALL his words had authority, including his shocking statement, “Your sins are forgiven.” In the context of his audience’s belief (which Jesus did not agree with) that only God could forgive sin, and that miraculous physical healing was equally difficult, this is one of Jesus’ clearest claims to be God.
The incident also reveals that Jesus gave the forgiving of our sins top priority in his dealing with people. He elaborated on his mission to sinners while he was eating at Levi’s house. When questioned as to why he ate with tax collectors and sinners, he answered: “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17).
From Mark 10:33-34, we learn more about what Jesus came to do. Jesus revealed to his disciples his advance knowledge that when he arrived in Jerusalem he would be put to death. Knowing that, he continued resolutely toward Jerusalem. He did not seek to avoid the death he knew awaited him, because as he told his disciples (verse 45), his purpose for coming was to give his life. HE CAME TO DIE, and his death was to be a “ransom for many.”
In the previous studies, we have learned that God is a righteous, just and loving God. He created us to live in harmony with his will. Disobeying God and acting independently of his will results in many evil things, “sins”, in our lives. Because God is just, he does not overlook our sins, but exacts the penalty of death. But because God loves us, he does not want us to die. Because of his love, he came to earth himself in the person of Jesus Christ, who made it clearly known that he was God, and gave his own life to pay the penalty for our sin. He ransomed us from death. Both his justice and his love were satisfied.
Jesus Christ not only died, but came back to life as he had predicted. The fact of his resurrection confirms his claims for himself, and it means that he is alive today. If his death as a ransom from sin is to apply to us so that God can freely give us life, we must HAVE Jesus Christ. “He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life” (1 John 5:12). In the final study we will discover how a person can RECEIVE Jesus Christ.
how can I receive Jesus Christ?
God freely offers us life in Jesus Christ. If we are to have it, we must have Jesus Christ. How can we receive him? It involves an understanding of WHOM we are receiving (study D) and HOW to go about it.
When we have the life God offers, we become “children of God.” In John 1:12, we find that “to all who received him [Christ], who believed in his name, he gave power to become children of God.” One aspect of receiving Jesus Christ, then, is BELIEVING in his name. We must believe that he was who he claimed to be and that he died to ransom us from sin, just as he claimed. Believing in Jesus Christ results in our receiving eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not preish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
Jesus Christ declared Himself to be “Teacher and Lord” (John 13:13). When we receive him into our lives, we receive him as Teacher and Lord. As Teacher, he will begin to teach us, so that our understanding of truth–of God, of ourselves, of the world–will increase. As Lord, he will begin to direct our lives, and we will be expected to obey him. Can you imagine a more exciting, challenging way to live than to have the Son of God, who loved us enough to die for us, teaching and directing us?
When we receive Jesus Christ, we receive the “Savior.” Before his birth, God sent word by an angel that Jesus would “save his people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21). (We learned in Study E that this was his mission.) Receiving Jesus Christ is therefore sometimes referred to as “being saved.” In Romans 10:9, we see what we must do to be saved, or, to receive Jesus Christ.
First, “you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord.” It is not enough to cimply acknowledge that Jesus is the Lord. You must confess him as YOUR Lord. You must acknowledge that you are turning the reins of your life over to him.
Also, you must “believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead.” The resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead verifies his claims as to his identity and purpose. He was “designated Son of God in power… by his resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4).
Do you believe that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead? Have you made him your own Lord, inviting him into your life to take control and to save you from your sins? If not, you can do so right now. You can pray something like this: “Lord Jesus, I admit that I am a sinner. I have left you out of my life. Thank you for dying for my sin. Come into my life and be my Savior and my Lord.”
Jesus said, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20).
end of handout texts for ONE TO ONE, 15-minute Bible studies to share with a friend, by William E. York, Jr. InterVarsity Press, Downers Grove, Illinois 60515
Entered into electronic media by
Clyde C. Price, Jr., Bible teacher — CIS# 76616,3452 P.O.Box 667, Red Oak, GA 30272-0667 USA