WHO IS JESUS?
Think of a few words to describe Jesus… What are those words?
Now think of a few words to describe Christians… What are those words? I'm betting those words are not as favorable as your words are for Jesus?
The point is we often have a different view of the people who follow Jesus than the man himself. I’d like to take a few moments of your time to give you some good news, good news about Jesus. Just because his followers often do not live the way he did doesn’t take away from who he is. Most people know he worked miracles, performed healings, taught his followers to love people and died on a cross but how much do you know about what happened on that cross? And one more question, do you know what it means for you?
THE BIRTH OF JESUS
Did you know there were over 300 prophecies about his birth ranging from 3500 years to 50 years before his birth? If just 8 of those prophecies came true it would be statistically impossible; 1 in 10,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000. The odds of all 300 prophecies coming true about him would be impossible to calculate.
There is actually more written about Jesus by his contemporaries than Alexander the Great. The earliest writing of Jesus was within 5 years of his death. The earliest writing of Alexander was 400 years after his death. Though people do not question the existence of Alexander, they do question the existence of Jesus. It’s not because of the lack of evidence, it’s because of who he claimed to be.
THE LIFE OF JESUS
Who is Jesus and why did he come here?
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth. ~ John 1:1, 14
Jesus is the Word of God in the flesh. The book of John was originally written in Aramaic and translated into Greek, which is the earliest version we have to date. The Greek word for “word” is logos, i.e. in the beginning was the logos. The word logos is where we get our word “logic.” Logos refers to the integrity behind the words, the logic behind the words and all of the intention of the speaker of those words. As the old-timers used to say, you’re only as good as your word. Our word once meant something. This is the idea of “logos.”
The logos of God, the character of God, the way God thinks and does things…became a human being.
The Son is the exact representation of the invisible God. ~ Colossians 1:15
In John 14 Jesus said, “If you’ve seen me, you’ve seen the Father.” Meaning that he talks like God, treats people like God would and lives like God if he were human. To fully understand God we must look at Jesus. He is God’s idea of what it looks like to be human.
WHY DID GOD BECOME HUMAN?
In Genesis 1:26 God gave mankind dominion (rule, authority) over all the earth. Humans are responsible for this earth and what happens in it. The world is in the condition it’s in because of what mankind has done, not what God is doing. God’s creation was perfect. Humans were even perfect in the beginning. We introduced sin into this world by thinking that we could be our own gods. This led to lying, deceit and even murder.
Introducing sin in a sense broke the system. Since humans have dominion, a human had to correct it. But because all of mankind had been “infected” with sin, God himself become human, to “fix” the system. He became human in every way to legally qualify to operate in this dimension. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that God became like we are in every way but he never sinned.
The goal of this plan was to redeem humankind back to himself spiritually. No human could be good enough to earn righteousness and eternal life on their own. God came here himself, as a human, to ensure the job would be completed and every human would have the option of receiving forgiveness and eternal life.
God’s motivation is love. Love for every human that has ever lived or ever will live. God is not willing that we pass into eternity without him because he loves us beyond our comprehension.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. ~ John 3:16-17
JESUS WAS A PERFECT SACRIFICE
Now that God had emptied himself of his divinity to become human, he had to live a perfect life without sin. He didn’t do this and then turn around and ask us to be perfect, he was perfect for us. He also remained perfect so he could be the sacrifice for all sin. Under the old covenant, the Jews would bring a sin offering, usually a bird or a goat. The priest would examine the sacrifice to see if it was perfect enough to qualify for that person’s sacrifice. If the sacrifice was good enough, the person would be forgiven after the blood of the sacrifice was shed. Those sacrifices were temporary under the old covenant. Under the new covenant, Jesus is a good enough sacrifice to remove your sin forever and make you right before God since you could never be good enough for eternal life on your own.
After Jesus lived a sinless life, having shown us what God is really like, he went to the cross on behalf of all mankind. The purpose of the cross was to receive the spiritual death and punishment for mankind’s sinful nature and sinful actions.
God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 5:21
This is perhaps the most important aspect to understand about the cross. After qualifying him to be the perfect sacrifice, God changed Jesus’ nature from perfect and holy to our nature, sin and shame. Jesus didn’t just carry our sins, he literally became our sin nature and took the punishment for our sins. In this process, God poured out all anger and penalty toward sin on Jesus. All of God’s wrath and anger was poured into Jesus until it was exhausted. This is called propitiation.
This is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation (atoning sacrifice) for our sins. ~ 1 John 4:10
God did this because he loves you! He knew you could not be good enough on your own to earn salvation so he came here himself to make it possible for you to accept it as a free gift through the finished work of Jesus Christ.
THE BLOOD OF JESUS
In him (Jesus Christ) we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God's grace. ~ Ephesians 1:7
Have you ever wondered why Jesus had to be sacrificed and why all the focus on his blood? Sacrifice seems so barbaric if misunderstood. God did not need to kill someone because he was angry at humans. Jesus does not save us from an angry God. The sacrifice of Christ was necessary to exchange human life for eternal life.
For the life of a creature is in the blood, and I have given it to you to make atonement for yourselves on the altar; it is the blood that makes atonement for one’s life. ~ Leviticus 17:11
Because the life is in the blood, Jesus had to shed his blood (life) as a human so he could exchange it for eternal life. Jesus was a representation of all mankind in his death just like the Old Covenant sacrifice. Jesus exchanged his perfect, spiritual, eternal life (blood) for human life (blood) so he could give us his life. Sacrifice and propitiation are best understood as an exchange, not an appeasement of an angry God. God's wrath and anger toward sin was poured out on and exhausted in Jesus but that is only a portion of what the cross is all about. The cross is the place where our sin is forgiven and we’re given the invitation to receive eternal life.
JESUS OUR SUBSTITUTE
Jesus was the substitute for many things in his life, death, burial and resurrection. He was forsaken by God so we would never have to be. Jesus received the punishment for sin because we are not able to. He took our sickness and disease so we could have abundant life. He passed into the grave to face death so he could conquer it for us. Believers will not taste death, we will pass through death into life with God forever. In the grave, Jesus faced eternity apart from God yet remained faithful. Let’s look a little deeper at the period of time Jesus was in the grave.
THE DEATH OF JESUS
Once the sacrifice of Jesus was complete, he died and passed into a place called Hades. This is not the Lake of Fire we see at the time of the final judgment, it’s the place where the unrighteous go after death to await the final judgment. He went there because he died the death that you deserve so he could give you his eternal life if you’ll receive him.
While in the grave Jesus remained faithful toward God. God had promised Jesus that all his enemies would be conquered and he would rule and reign from his right hand forever. Jesus never gave up on that promise. It must have been very difficult for Jesus to live a sinless life but imagine how difficult it must have been to still believe you’re the Messiah and you’ll deliver all those who believe in you while you’re dead.
At some point, his faith gained that eternal righteousness promised to him. He then turned from the suffering Messiah into the conquering king. He won the battle over death, hell and the grave. He also stripped satan and all demons of any and all power over humankind. You don’t have to be afraid of or fight the devil because Jesus has already won that victory for you.
Colossians tells us Jesus made a show of him openly. This is an old phrase referring to the time kings would drag another defeated king through the streets of their village to show all the people this king had no more power, he had been defeated.
THE RESURRECTION OF JESUS
Jesus then rose from the grave to ascend back to Heaven. A very interesting thing happened when he went back into Heaven immediately after his resurrection.
He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. ~ Hebrews 9:12
Jesus took his perfect, sinless human blood into Heaven where God dwells to exchange human life for eternal spiritual life for all those who would approach God through Jesus.
He presented his own life (blood) as an eternal offering for righteousness. This blood is available to cleanse and make righteous anyone who will receive Jesus as their ‘righteousness’ or ‘right standing’ before God. You can’t ‘get right’ with God on your own so Jesus lived perfectly, died and rose again so you could be right with God.
Once you believe in him, then his lifeblood, his eternal life, cleanses (sanctifies) you and makes you holy. When you say yes to him he washes you clean and removes your sin from you.
But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation- ~ Colossians 1:22
It’s like Jesus takes you in his arms and walks you into the presence of God and says, I’ve made them holy, they have received me and now I am one with them. At this moment you are forever hidden with Christ in God. The old you dies, never to return. Your sin is removed from you and your spirit is made one with God. You become the dwelling place of God.
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. ~ 2 Corinthians 4:7
JESUS MAKES US PERFECT
By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified. ~ Hebrews 10:10, 14
Once you say yes to Jesus, from then on you are as perfect before God as Jesus is because God now sees his spirit in you. God doesn’t relate to you based on your behavior.
God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him. 17 Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world. 1 John 4:16b-17
When God looks at a believer he sees what Jesus did for him.
A NEW HEART
As if this news wasn’t good enough, God also gives you a new heart. The heart is where you believe things. You could say the heart is the real you. Proverbs tells us that as a man thinks in his heart, so is he. And, out of your heart flow all the boundaries of life.
This new heart you receive once you’re born again knows how to follow God. It knows how to hear God’s guidance. This new heart has encoded within it the best way to live in this earth for righteousness, peace and joy.
I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. ~ Ezekiel 36:26
For the rest of your life, God is determined to bless you and establish his promises in your life. He loves you so much and wants the best for you. Jesus came to give you an abundant life.
For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. ~ Jeremiah 29:11
For no matter how many promises God has made, they are “Yes” in Christ. And so through him the “Amen” is spoken by us to the glory of God. ~ 2 Corinthians 1:20
SAY YES TO JESUS
Would you like to receive eternal life through what Jesus did for you? You don’t have to convince God how sorry you are for your sins, just acknowledge that you know you’re not good enough in your own strength to be right with God. True repentance is acknowledging you need a savior. Whoever calls on the name of Jesus shall be saved, there’s no formula, there’s no magic prayer, it is simply a decision you make in your heart.
The important thing is that you believe in your heart that Jesus died for you and rose from the grave. If you believe that, say something like this to Jesus: “Thank you for exchanging places with me. Thank you Jesus for making me righteous through your sacrifice. Thank you for giving me your spiritual, eternal life. I open my heart to receive everything you have for me. I want to be transformed by you. Thank you for the gift of eternal life.”
If you prayed something like that please let someone know. You can call or email us if you like. 770-828-5826 firstname.lastname@example.org
Begin reading the Book of John in the Bible. Read the rest of the New Testament once you’ve read John. Use it to renew your mind about who you now are in Jesus. Always remember that you are righteous because you are in Jesus. You did not earn it by works, you can not ‘un-earn’ it by works. Never forget that God loves you. He’s for you and he has good plans for you
Water baptism is an outward, public expression of what happened in your spirit. It’s a point of reference to identify with dying with Christ and being raised with him. Find another believer or church and ask them to baptize you.
Find a church where the people are accepting and the messages are focused on Jesus. You can call us to help you find a church in your area. You can also listen to free messages at www.forwardministries.org.
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. ~ Ephesians 2:8-10
Contact us if we can help you in any way.