“God so loved the world, that He gave His One and Only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
John ch.3 v.16
Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do people say I am?” (Matthew ch.16 v.13).
(“The Outlaw” by Larry Norman, 1973)
Jesus then asked His disciples, “But what about you? Who do you say I am?” (Matthew ch.16 v.15).
He was born in Palestine about two thousand years ago. He was the son of a peasant girl. At the age of thirty, He began an amazing ministry of teaching and preaching. He healed those who were sick, gave sight back to the blind and even raised dead people to life again!
This went on for about three years. The religious leaders of the day had Him arrested and executed by the Romans.
His influence, however, continues to grow. Christians believe that Jesus came back to life, and that He is still alive today.
A scholar called Phillips Brooks has said: “I am far within the mark when I say that all the armies that ever marched, all the navies that were ever built, all the parliaments that ever sat and all the kings that ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man upon Earth as powerfully as that one solitary life.”
Who Is Jesus?
So, who is Jesus Christ? Many books have been written about Him, but the most comprehensive information comes from the Bible.
Four people wrote stories about the life of Jesus. Matthew and John were there with Jesus; Mark and Luke wrote from information they gathered. All four stories are included in the Bible; we call them the Gospels.
Luke gives us an insight into the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. In ch.1 v.35, an angel announces that the child Mary was to bear would be called “the Son of God.”
Later in Luke’s gospel we read an account of Jesus’ baptism (ch.3 vv.21-22). On that occasion there was a voice from Heaven, which declared: “You are My Son, whom I love, with You I am well pleased.”
In Luke ch.4 v.41, even the demons recognised that Jesus was the Son of God!
Christians believe that Jesus has always been the Son of God. Before He was born into a human family, He lived with His Father in the glory of Heaven.
The Apostle Paul, in his letter to the Colossians, says a lot about who Jesus is; in ch.1 v.16 we read that Jesus created all things and that all things were made by Him and for Him. And in v.19 of the same chapter, we are told that the whole glory of God Himself can be seen in Him.
Then we have what Jesus said about Himself; in John ch.14 v.9 He told His followers: “Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father.”
So, Jesus Christ is the Eternal God in human form. As God, He was able to heal the sick, cast out demons, bring peace to a stormy sea, forgive sins and speak words of wisdom that left His hearers baffled. As Man, He knew what it was to be hungry, thirsty and tired. He laughed and He cried.
He was the same as us, in every way — except one…
In Hebrews ch.4 v.15 we are told that Jesus was tempted in all the same ways that we are, but He was different in that He never did anything wrong. In fact, the words are “He was without sin.” He was completely holy; there was nothing in Him to cause Him to sin. He was Man as God intended Man to be. In short, He was perfect.
Why Did Jesus Have To Die?
In spite of the fact that He was perfect, Jesus died the death of a common criminal. Many people think this was a horrible mistake, but the Bible says otherwise. Talking to a crowd of people on the day of Pentecost, Peter says that the death of Jesus was “by God’s set purpose and foreknowledge” (Acts ch.2 v.23).
In other words, not only did God know it was going to happen; He actually arranged it!
Jesus, Himself, also knew what was going to happen. In Mark ch.8 v.31 He even told his disciples exactly how He was going to die. When His friend Peter tried to talk Him out of it, he was told that this was what God had in mind all along.
Not only did Jesus know He was going to die. He also made clear that He was doing it by choice. In John ch.10 vv.17-18 Jesus said, “I lay down My life… of My own accord.”
Okay, but why? The answer is: Jesus died the death that each of us deserves.
Peter, in his first letter ch.2 v.24, informs us that when Jesus was on the cross He bore our sins: “By His wounds you have been healed.”
It was as if when Jesus was on the cross, He was saying, “It is all My fault!” All of God’s anger and hatred of sin was poured out on Jesus. He was punished for the sin of the whole world, past, present and future. In Matthew ch.27 v.46, Jesus cried out, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?”
The sight of sin, your sin and mine, was so awful that God turned His back on His own Son.
Take a moment to think about that. Jesus took the punishment you and I deserved; He was separated from God so that you and I might be brought back to Him. He went through hell, so you and I would never have to go there!
2 Corinthians ch.5 v.21 says, “God made Him who had no sin to be sin for us.”
And Romans ch.5 v.8 says, “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
All this happened because God loves us! The death of Jesus has made it possible for God to forgive us our sins, and to give us a brand new life. God wants to make you and me like Jesus!
Three days after Jesus was executed, His followers discovered that His grave was empty. At first it was thought that someone had stolen His body. But the truth was soon revealed, and was so amazing that it has changed the world!
The apostle Paul, writing to the Corinthians, talks about what happened, “Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, He was buried and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Corinthians ch.15 vv.3-4). Later, he tells us that over five hundred witnesses saw Jesus alive! (v.6). And in Acts ch.1 v.3 we are told that Jesus gave many convincing proofs that He was alive again.
Former Lord Chief Justice Darling, speaking about the evidence for Jesus’ resurrection said: “On that greatest point we are not merely asked to have faith. In its favour as a living truth there exists such overwhelming evidence… that no intelligent jury in the world could fail to bring a verdict that the resurrection story is true.”
Acts ch.2 vv.32-33 tells us that Jesus is now exalted at the right hand of God.
Today, the Lord Jesus Christ is offering a new start, a new life and a wonderful future to all who will believe on Him and obey Him.
“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone. The new has come” (2 Corinthians ch.5 v.17).
God is not interested in patching up your old life. He is not interested in your turning over a new leaf. He is not even interested in making you religious! Through Jesus, He wants to give you a brand new life, to make you a new person.
Whoever you are, whatever you have done with your life so far. God wants to re-make it the way He planned; putting His own life and power into you.
John ch.3 v. 7: “You must be born again.”