God – Son

God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit

Who is Jesus Christ?

Introduction

The story of Jesus does not begin in the New Testament nor in the Old Testament. In fact the story of Jesus does not have a beginning because he has always existed. As a member of the Godhead, Jesus Christ has lived for eternity with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. In this study we are going to think of the person and work of God the Son (Jesus) in four stages: (1) before his birth in Bethlehem, (2) in the gospels, (3) in the present day and (4) when he returns. While we study all these aspects, we think of the ways they can impact and transform our own life.

Part 1: Jesus before Bethlehem

1. His role in creation

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth (Gen 1:1). John says that Jesus was the agent of this creation – through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made (Jn 1:3). We should marvel at the fact that the one who created the vastness of this universe was willing to be pinned to a cross by sinful people to rescue rebels like ourselves.

2. Scripture types

Scripture types are Old Testament events, persons or institutions, which have a deeper meaning in regard to Jesus Christ. On the night of their exodus from Egypt, the Israelites had to sacrifice a faultless lamb. Its blood painted on the door brought salvation as the death angel passed overhead. In the same way the pure Lamb of God (Jesus) was sacrificed at the cross to redeem you and me from sin and death (Jn 1:29/1 Pt 1:18-19). When we read of King David (meaning “the Anointed One”), our minds should be drawn to Jesus the King. David won the victory over Goliath, just as Jesus defeated our enemies of sin, death and Satan. Jesus is the key to the Old Testament, thus shedding a new light on its significance for our present day.

3. Prophecies

The Old Testament contains many prophecies that speak of the coming Christ. Isaiah 53 tells of a ‘suffering servant’ who will be rejected and killed for the sins of God’s people. Some prophecies are very specific – Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would give birth to a son and call him Immanuel (7:14); Micah said that the promised ruler would be born in Bethlehem (5:2); and in Psalm 22 King David gave an accurate description of Jesus’ suffering including how lots were cast for the victims clothing.
The first prophecy about Jesus can be found in Genesis 3:15 shortly after Adam and Eve’s fall. As God spells out the consequences of man’s sin he tells the serpent of one (Jesus) who will crush Satan’s head. The rest of the Old Testament looks forward to the arrival of this serpent-crusher. These fulfilled prophecies show us that God’s word is true and does not change with circumstances.

4. Titles

There are titles used in the Old Testament that are taken on by Jesus. Jesus’ favourite title for himself was Son of Man – this is found in Daniel 7 and refers to the mighty ruler, whose kingdom will be never destroyed. Other titles found in the Old Testament that are used in the New Testament include Light, Rock, First and Last and the Lord of Glory.

Part 2: Jesus in the gospels – from his birth to his death

1. Jesus was born to a virgin

Matthew and Luke are very clear that Mary was a virgin and that Jesus was conceived by the Holy Spirit. The virgin birth is an important doctrine because it shows how God came to live in bodily form (see Col 2:9). His ordinary birth to an ordinary mother points to the fact that he was born as an ordinary human child. That he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, points to the fact that Jesus is divine. What does this mean practically? Jesus had a human body, human emotions, and felt physical weakness. He knows all about you and me and can identify with us. But because he is also divine, he did not sin. And so God considered him as the perfect person to die for the sins of the world and to bridge the gap that had separated man from God. Jesus is the direct connection or mediator between man and God; no priest or any other human person can substitute for this (see 1 Tim 2:5).

2. Jesus’ baptism

Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. The baptism of John signified the forgiveness of sins. But why would Jesus need to be baptised although he had never sinned? In Jesus’ baptism he was identifying himself with sinful humanity, as he would later do by dying on the cross to take the punishment for our rebellion.
The words spoken by the Father at Jesus’ baptism are significant: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mk 1:11). By trusting Jesus as our Saviour we come into this self-same relationship to the Father. God has accepted us as his beloved sons and daughters (1?Jn 3:1-3). All of us who were baptised into Christ Jesus were baptised into his death, buried with him in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead, we too may live a new life (Ro 6:2-4). Water baptism does not save by itself but is a sign of our faith in Jesus Christ (see Gal 3:26,27). Our life will change as we grow in our awareness of who we are in Christ and learn to live as Jesus did.

3. Jesus’ temptation

Later, Jesus was led by the Spirit into the desert. There the devil tempted him (Mt 4:1) to take a different path than the one that would lead to the cross. Whereas Adam failed when tempted in the garden of Eden, Jesus remained victorious. When the devil had finished all this tempting, he left him until an opportune time (Lk 4:13). Let us fight the devil on the spiritual level in the same way as Jesus did and say: “It is written …” Learn to use Bible verses as a powerful weapon against all evil forces.

4. Jesus’ ministry

Jesus was often moved by compassion. He healed people and drove out demons. Preaching was central to his task. He said “Let us go somewhere else – to nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come” (Mk 1:38).
His preaching focused on the kingdom of God. The prophet Isaiah had proclaimed the message that God would establish his personal reign on earth. Jesus preached that this time has come. In order to be part of God’s kingdom we need to repent and believe (Mk 1:15). That means turning away from a self-centred life and submitting to the kingship of God.

5. Jesus is God

The New Testament teaches us that Jesus is God. He did things only God can do. He forgave sins (Mk 2:6-7). He was Lord over nature. The wind and waves obeyed him (Mk 4:41). He claimed God’s holy name for himself (I AM; Ex 3:14, Jn 8:58). His opponents reacted in anger because they did not want to give Jesus the same reverence that they gave their God of the Old Testament. They were too proud to acknowledge Jesus. It was the doubting Thomas who finally saw Jesus for who he really was and called him “My Lord and my God” (Jn 20:28 / Jn 1:1).
We can keep God at a distance and revere him as Creator and Lord Almighty. But through Jesus this relationship comes down to a very personal level. As my Lord and my God, he has a say in my life.

6. Jesus came to die

The gospel writers focus mainly on three years of Jesus’ ministry, highlighting especially the events surrounding his death and resurrection. This period of Jesus life is essential for our understanding of salvation.
In the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus agonized as he anticipated the cross. He shuddered not just at the physical pain but at the fact that he would be separated from his Father’s presence. He prayed “Abba, Father … everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will” (Mk 14:36). This cup is the cup of God’s wrath (see Is 51:17). Jesus was going to endure the full weight of God’s righteous anger at the rebellion of humankind.
Jesus was betrayed, captured, tried, beaten, insulted, laughed at and finally nailed to the cross. He bore the punishment for our sins and died, saying: “It is finished” (Jn 19:30). His work of salvation is complete, done, finished for you and me. When he died, the curtain in the temple was torn in two, symbolizing that through Jesus we have access anytime to God. There is nothing we can add to the work of Jesus which would make us more acceptable to God. All we can do is thankfully accept him as our Saviour: no pilgrimage, no endless recitation of prayers, no cutting of fingers or other corporal punishment is required. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” (see Heb 9:24?/?6:19-20?/?10:22)
The sign of the cross is a good reminder to Christians of the great sacrificial death of Jesus and of his power. If we attribute magical power to the wooden or metal object itself and use it like a charm to ward off evil or as a means to sanctify air, water and other things, we are cheating Jesus out of the honour and power which rightfully belong to him alone. The power to save is not in a wooden cross/crucifix but in the one who died on the cross and is now alive.

Part 3: Jesus’ present ministry – from his resurrection to his return

1. Jesus is alive

Easter morning! Through his resurrection Jesus conquered the power of death! Nothing could hold him back in the grave (Acts 2:24). Through faith in him we receive this same eternal life that goes beyond the death of our bodies. His resurrection guarantees the fulfilment of his promise to give eternal life to those who remain in Jesus the Son and in God the Father (1?Jn 2:23-25).
Before we became Christians, we were spiritually dead in our transgressions and sins. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ (see Eph 2:1-6/Ro 6:4). That is the wonderful good news. “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit, who lives in you” (Ro 8:11).
This is the meaning of resurrection, of being born-again. Jesus comes to live in our heart and gives us eternal life! Although we are still capable of sinning, we do not need to do so anymore because Jesus has set us free. Day by day he gives us the ability and strength to do what pleases him. When we fail, he reaches out to help us. The deep peace and satisfaction that comes from being forgiven and reconciled to God for eternity is worth the humiliation of admitting our sin and putting right what we messed up (see Zachaeus, Lk 19:1-10).

2. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth

The risen Jesus declared to his disciples, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt 28:18). It is on the basis of this authority that we step out in mission. Indeed we can be confident that this task will not be in vain (Mt 16:18).

3. Jesus has ascended to heaven

The risen Jesus appeared to more than five hundred people (1?Cor 15:6) before he was taken up to heaven. He will return in the same way (Acts 1:9,11) to fetch those who believe in him. In the meantime, he dwells with his people and in this world through the Holy Spirit.

4. Jesus reigns

Having ascended to heaven he was seated at the Father’s right-hand side. The right-hand side is the place of honour and authority. The risen and exalted Jesus is referred to as being Lord of all (Acts 10:36). Nothing or no one can escape from his authority. The world is not out of control, it is under his control. Countries may go to war, hunger may strike but nothing can separate us from the love that is in Christ Jesus, our Lord (Ro 8:35-39). Wonderfully, there is a community of people who love and follow Jesus Christ and build his kingdom in every country. Your faith, no matter how small, can join with that of other born-again Christians to accomplish great things in building God’s kingdom.

5. Jesus is to be worshipped

Jesus is to be the object of worship. John writes, ‘In a loud voice (the angels) sang: “Worthy is the Lamb, who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and strength and honour and glory and praise!” (Rev 5:12).
We must remember to sing songs that focus on the cross and exalt our risen Lord. When we give Jesus the wonderful names he deserves in worship, we are proclaiming what we also believe in the quiet place of our heart. “Through him (Jesus), therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise, – the fruit of lips that confess his name” (Heb 13:15). This means humbling ourselves. Let’s give up our own important titles and selfish will and make room for Jesus. The name of Jesus should not be used like a magical chant that is repeated over and over again. Jesus is God and we are to respect him and not use his name in vain.

6. Jesus gives us access to the Father

In prayer we have the wonderful privilege of coming to the Father through the Son. We may now have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, and so we are told draw near to God with a sincere heart and in full assurance of faith (Heb 10:22). As his children, we can trust our father to really care for us and give us what is best for us.

7. Jesus continually prays for us

Jesus, our great High Priest continually prays on our behalf moment by moment. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them (Heb 7:25?/?Rom 8:34). Because of his prayers we can be confident that we will reach the goal and one day share his glory with him. He knows what we can handle and he is committed to our growth as Christians and our perseverance. Nothing and no one can condemn us when Christ died for our sin and continues to intercede on our behalf. Nothing and no one can defeat us when Christ knows our weaknesses and is praying for us to have the strength to endure.

Part 4: The future work of Jesus

1. Jesus will return

This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back (Acts 1:11). Many groups in history have made fools of themselves trying to predict dates for the Lord’s return although the Scriptures say that it is not for us to know the day or the hour (Mt 24:36). Yet Jesus reminded his people to be prepared. How? The world is not our final home. Jesus is preparing a much better place for us. We are not to live irresponsibly – eating, drinking, marrying, buying and selling, planting and building as we wish, but in all our activities we should be dependent on his grace as we seek to be obedient followers of God’s word. In this way we will store up eternal treasures for ourselves in heaven (Mt 6:9).

2. He will judge the living and the dead

On that day of wrath (Ro 2:5) the unrepentant will experience the holy wrath of God. Every word, deed and attitude will be brought out into the open. “And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened … The dead were judged according to these books … If anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire” (Rev 20:11-14).

3. He will reward Christians

The Christian will face Christ’s judgement too (2 Cor 5:10) but the outcome will be entirely different. Jesus has paid the price for our sins so “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Ro 8:1).
In his wonderful generosity God will reward his people. Our whole life will be assessed and nothing we have done for him will go unnoticed or unrewarded. “Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not men, because you know that the Lord will reward everyone for whatever good he does, whether he is slave or free” (Eph 6:7-8).

4. The new creation

Since we live in this fallen world, we know that our bodies will waste away and when the time comes, we will die. Yet when Jesus returns he will give us transformed, resurrected bodies to be like the imperishable body of our risen Saviour (see 1 Cor 15). There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain (Rev 21:4). God will dwell with his people (Rev 21:3). In the city of God there will be the throne of God and the Lamb (Rev 22:3) and we shall live wonderful, joy-filled lives of loving worship to God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That will be glory!

APPLICATION TO YOUR PERSONAL LIFE

Answer the questions below and think about your personal relationship to Jesus Christ, the Son and his impact in your ministry. You might need a separate sheet of paper for the answers. If you have questions, discuss them with another Christian leader.

1. How does the Old Testament help us to gain a deeper understanding of who Jesus is and what He came to do?
(see Scripture types)
2. Why is it important to believe that Jesus was born of a virgin?
3. How does a person become a Christian, through faith in Jesus or through the act of water baptism? As a Christian leader, what will you emphasize in your teaching?
4. How does the fact that Jesus was tempted help us when we are tempted? See Heb 4:14-16
5. When the devil tempts you, what can you do? Give testimony.
6. Jesus’ main message was, “Repent and believe the good news” (Mk 1:15). As a Christian leader which church activities would you emphasize?
a) focus on important people in the church
b) preach about repentance and salvation
c) preach about discipleship
d) preach on prosperity
7. How does living under the kingship of Jesus influence a selfless lifestyle?
a) in your family (Eph 5:21-33; 1 Pt 3:1-7)
b) towards your children (Mk 10:13-16; Col 3:21)
c) towards church members (1 Tim 6:2b-10; 1 Pt 5:1-7)
d) towards your neighbours (Lk 10:27; Ro 12:18)
e) towards your enemies (Prov 25:21-22; Mt 5:43-45)
f) towards authorities (1 Pt 2:12; Ro 13:1-7)
8. On the cross Jesus said, “It is finished!” What do these words mean to you?   
9. What change has taken place in your life since you became a new person in Christ? Give testimony.
10. In view of the fact that Christ is to be the centre of worship, what qualities should our songs focus on? Evaluate the songs in your church.
11. Jesus reigns. What in your personal case does this fact imply?
12. Jesus intercedes for us. What does this mean to you?
13. As Christian leaders, we should encourage the believers to be ready for the Lord’s return. How in your biblical view can we be prepared?
14. How can we share the gospel more effectively, having in mind that judgement that awaits the unrepentant?
15. How can we be sure of receiving eternal life? (See 1 Jn 2:23-25)
16. Christian life on earth may involve both happiness and sorrow/hardship. What will it be like in the new creation?

Paul Ritchie and DCL team

Copyright note:
Life Application Bible NIV, Holy Bible NIV Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984
by International Bible Society. Used by permission