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Chapter 4

 

Jesus Christ

  

We believe Jesus Christ is true God and true Man, having been     conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.  He died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins, according to the scriptures.  Further, He arose bodily from the dead and ascended into heaven, where at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He is now our High Priest and Advocate, and in the Person of the Holy Spirit, He indwells the believer.

   Christianity owes its life and character in every detail to Christ. Its teachings are teachings about Him.  He was the origin and will be the fulfillment of its hopes.  He is the source of its ideas, which were born of what He said and did.  The strength of Christ’s church is the strength of His own Spirit, who is omnipotent.[1]

   Jesus is mysterious and wonderful; we can all be on a life-long journey of discovery about Him.  The most wonderful aspect of all is that some day, perhaps soon, we will be together with Him.  Let’s learn some things about Him now, after all why wait? The following poem makes my heart to yearn to be with Him soon.

  

Jesus, these eyes have never seen

That radiant form of Thine;

The veil of sense hangs dark between

Thy blessed face and mine.

 

I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,

Yet art Thou oft with me;

And earth hath ne’er so dear a spot

As where I meet with Thee.

 

Like some bright dream that comes unsought

When slumbers o’re me roll,

Thine image ever fills my thought,

And charms my ravished soul.

 

Yet, though I have not seen, and still

Must rest in faith alone,

I love Thee, dearest Lord, and will,

Unseen but not unknown.

 

When death these mortal eyes shall seal,

And still this throbbing heart,

The rending veil shall Thee reveal

All glorious as Thou art.

  

What does the old Testament say?

  

The Old Testament tells us many things in many places about the coming of Christ.  For the sake of brevity we will look at the book of Isaiah. It has a rich store of prophecy regarding the appearance and ministry of the Christ or Messiah.

   What will the Messiah be like?  He will be kingly (Isaiah 9:6–7, 32:1–3, 42:1–4).  He will have wisdom, understanding, power, and knowledge (Isaiah 11:2).  He will come to those who repent of their sins (Isaiah 59:20).

   How will He appear on earth?  He will be preceded by a messenger (Isaiah 40:3).  He will be born as a child (Isaiah 9:6).  He will be divinely conceived and born of a virgin mother (Isaiah 7:14).  He will be adored by the Magi (Isaiah 60:3, 6).  He will be linked to the family of Jesse (Isaiah 11:1).  He will be a Galilean (Isaiah 9:1)

   He will perform miracles such as giving sight to the blind, speech to the dumb, and strength to the lame (Isaiah 35:5, 6, 42:7).

   He will be rejected by His people (Isaiah 6:9–10, 8:14, 29:13) and by all nations and peoples (Isaiah 53:1, 3, 65:2).

   He will be persecuted (Isaiah 49:7).  He will be insulted and beaten (Isaiah 50:6).  He will be silent when accused (Isaiah 53:7).  He will be crucified with sinners (Isaiah 53:12), and buried with the wealthy (Isaiah 53:9).

He will be God, or divine, (Isaiah 25:9, 40:10).[2]

Just this one book of the Bible, Isaiah, gives us a great deal of information about the Messiah.  As you can see there is a great deal of specific prophecy regarding the coming of Christ.  When Jesus was born the Scriptures had laid out the events of His life from birth to death. This is just one of the reasons we can be sure that Jesus was the Christ of God.

The Old Testament shows the yearning of the chosen people of God for the Messiah.  Many waited day by day for His coming.  It is said that every woman of David’s line hoped to be the one to have the privilege of being mother to the Christ.  The Jewish people were united in the hope of the things to come.  They could look to the promises of God to their nation and see that they had been kept.  At the same time they were often a suffering people, they eagerly watched for God to intervene in their behalf.

In the same way God reaches towards today’s hurting people through the now risen Christ.  He is still faithful to His promises, and like the Old Testament Jew, we can look back on the faithfulness of God.  At the same time we have the most marvelous promise of God to look back on, let’s see how God gave us our Savior and Lord.

  

What does the New Testament say?

  

Obviously the focus of the entire New Testament is on who Jesus Christ is and how to follow Him.  The four gospels specifically deal with His life and ministry.  Many of the things told to us in the New Testament are done specifically to show us how the person of Jesus Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies.  The book of Luke teaches about Christ’s humanity.  Matthew focuses more on His kingliness.  The book of John concentrates on His spiritual or divine aspects.

   Who and what did Jesus say He was?  Jesus said that He was God, in John 10:30 He states “I and the Father are one” thus telling us that He is equal and the same as Jehovah.  Jesus not only told His followers this but when He was being judged by the high priest He said it as well.  (Matthew 26:63, 64)  This statement condemned Him to death on the cross.

   Jesus showed us that He had the power of God by performing many miracles. By performing the miracles, He showed that He had God’s attributes of power over nature (Mark 4:39), control over physical disease (Mark 3:10), and control over the spirit world (Luke 4:35).  Most impressively He showed us His power over death (John 11:43, 44).

   Jesus is omniscient (all knowing) in that He knew what was in our mind before it was said (Mark 2:8, John 2:25).  He is also omnipresent in that He was with His followers then 2000 years ago, is now with us, and will be with us “to the very end of the age.” (Matthew 28:20)[3]

   Jesus is the creator of the universe (John 1:3).  Jesus was one of the “us’s” active at the time of creation (Genesis 1:26).  However Christ didn’t just create the world and set it off spinning like a top, eventually to have is slow down and fall over.  No, He is active even today sustaining the world by His power (Hebrews 1:3). And He doesn’t just sustain the natural universe, or the physical world, but also us.

   Let’s watch Jesus grow up.  Jesus being fully God is also fully man.  Just as we looked at His divine attributes, let us also look at His human ones.  Jesus, although conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born in a physical body in the usual way (Luke 2:6–7).  He had a normal body in that He was circumcised (Luke 2:21), He grew up (Luke 2:52), got hungry and thirsty (Luke 4:2 John 19:28), and He got tired (John 4:6) and slept (Matthew 8:24).  Lastly He bled and died (John 19:34).  We also know that Jesus was tempted and had the opportunity to sin, but didn’t.

   The following poem and favorite Christmas hymn expresses the thoughts of the author on the mystery of the dual nature of the baby Jesus.

  

What Child is this who laid to rest

On Mary’s lap is sleeping,

Whom angels greet with anthems sweet

While shepherds watch are keeping?

This, this is Christ the King

Whom shepherds guard and angels sing,

Haste, haste to bring Him laud,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.

 

Why lies He in such mean estate

Where ox and ass are feeding?

Good Christian fear, for sinners here

The silent word is pleading.

Nails, spear shall pierce Him through.

The cross He bore for me, for you.

Hail, hail the Lord made flesh,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.

 

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,

Come peasant, king to own Him.

The King of kings salvation brings,

Let loving hearts enthrone Him.

Raise, raise the song on high,

The virgin sings her lullaby,

Joy, joy for Christ is born,

The Babe, the Son of Mary.[4]

  

The earthly life of Christ

  

Jesus was born of a virgin who was a descendent of David, as was promised in the Old Testament.  The virgin birth is hard for us to accept and understand.  Why would God want to do such a strange thing? Lets back up a bit and look at why Jesus had to be born at all, why could He have not just appeared and gone about His business?

If God was to appear on earth as a man in the person of Jesus Christ there were three ways it could have been done.  The first is that He could have appeared as a grown man, done His work, and left for parts above.  The second is that He could have been born in the normal way of two human parents. And thirdly, He could be born of the union of a human mother and the Holy Spirit.

If God had merely appeared as a grown man or occupied a human body He would have been without a human origin. What God had in mind required more than just the Spirit indwelling a person.  This had been done many times in the past (Sampson etc.).  The indwelling of a human body by the Spirit does not produce a perfect human, we as Christians are indwelt by the Spirit and are not perfect. We could not continue to exist if Christ came into us and destroyed everything in us that was not holy. At the same time God needed the “second Adam” to be perfect in order to be suitable as a fit sacrifice for our sins.

In the same way if God had chosen two human parents to bear the baby Jesus a perfect child would not have resulted. Also this child could not have been fully man and fully God.  Being born of a human father would not have identified His human body as the rightful property of His Deity.

The agency of the Holy Spirit and the mother Mary establish both His humanity and His Deity. It is easy for us to identify with the baby Jesus in the manger in terms of our human experience. The men and woman that Jesus met when ministering had no doubt that He was like us. He enjoyed their hospitality, and suffered their rejection.

Jesus was born in a manger in a hotel stable in the town of Bethlehem. They were away from home because of the census that the Romans were taking at the time.  When He was eight days old He was circumcised by the priest at the temple. This was done as a sign of the continuing covenant between God and His people.

When Jesus was 40 days old He was taken by His parents to be consecrated to the Lord at the temple. This was done for all firstborn male Jewish children. When at the temple a man named Simeon came and acknowledged the baby Jesus as “the Lord’s Christ” and the “salvation which you have prepared in the sight of your people” (Luke 2:22–35).

When Jesus was 12 years old He was taken to Jerusalem to be confirmed in the Jewish faith.  When the family left to go home Jesus stayed at the temple.  Here He amazed those who heard His questions and answers. When Mary and Joseph came looking for Him after noticing that he was missing, they scolded Him.  He responded by pointing out that He would naturally be found in His Father’s house, but they did not understand.

From this time to the time of His public ministry the Bible only states that He was obedient to His parents.  We must assume that he worked with Joseph in his trade as a carpenter.  Jesus was part of a family and had brothers and sisters (Mark 6:3; Matthew 12:46, 13:55–56). We can only guess that Jesus’ mother Mary was widowed because Joseph is not mentioned later in Jesus’ life and John provided for Mary in her later years (John 19:26, 27).  (Luke 2:52 tells us that He grew in wisdom and stature and was well liked by those around Him as well as by God, if only we could approach that goal!

When Jesus was about 30 years old He was baptized by his cousin John.  John had been prepared and sent ahead of Jesus to prepare Israel to listen to Jesus.  When Jesus was baptized by John, the Holy Spirit in the form of a dove descended from heaven and sat on Jesus.  A voice was heard coming from above, it said “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.  The baptism of Jesus marked a new phase in His life.  From this time forward Jesus went about His spiritual ministry.

The concept of the dual existence and nature of Christ, both God and man is difficult to understand. Perhaps because of this it is one of the most common heresies from the earliest times. Even today many cults claim that Jesus Christ was not God, such as the Jehovah’s Witnesses.  Or that He was not fully man, and therefore did not really die, only appeared to.

The orthodox doctrine of the nature of Christ was clearly stated at the council of Chalcedon in the year AD 451.  It said that “in one person, Jesus Christ, there are two natures, a human nature and a divine nature, each in its completeness and integrity, and that these two natures are organically and indissolubly united, yet so that no third nature is formed thereby.”[5]

 The Deity of Christ. The deity of Christ is the real stumbling block for many to accepting Christianity. It is here that Jews, Moslems, Unitarians, Jehovah’s Witnesses, and many others come to grief. It is from misbelief or at least inadequate belief about the incarnation that difficulties at other points of the gospel story usually spring.[6]

Following Christ is more than just following in the footsteps of a great man. To be a Christian means accepting the absolute uniqueness of His person. Jesus is different from all other people that have ever lived for a variety of reasons.

  

The earthly ministry of Christ

  

After Jesus had been baptized He was directed by the Spirit to go and fast in the desert.  For 40 days He did not eat and was tempted by Satan.  When He had shown that he could not be tempted into sinning angels came and fed Him.

He then left the desert and proclaimed in the temple publicly that He was to fulfill the Old Testament prophesies.  After this He went and called the first disciples.  The first to be called were Simon Peter, and his brother Andrew.  Then Jesus traveled in the area and both taught and healed the people which He encountered.  Many of the people were glad to receive both the healing and the teaching but the civic and religious leadership didn’t like what was happening.

Jesus did not side step issues in order to be a people pleaser. He was not a yes man, or even a very comfortable person to be around.  He continually challenged both His friends and enemies.  One of the things that made many dislike Jesus was that they could not appropriate His power for their goals.

Many people began to hear of Jesus’ power and wisdom.  As He traveled thousands of people would follow him into sometimes remote areas.  Two of His most famous miracles were His feeding of these crowds.  It is plain to see that Jesus cares for all of us a great deal.

 

Miracles of Jesus

  

Look at the tables of His miracles below, it shows His power and love.[7]

 

Miracles In Nature Matthew Mark Luke John
Turning water to wine       2:1–11
Feeding of the five thousand 14:15–21 6:35-44 9:12–17 6:5–15
Walking on the water 14:22–33 6:45-52   6:16–21
Tax money in a fish’s mouth 17:24–27      
Feeding the four thousand 15:32–39 8:1–9    
Withering of the fig tree 21:17–22 11:12–14    
First large catch of fish   5:1–11    
Second large catch of fish       21:1–14

 

Miracles Of Healing Matthew Mark Luke John
Nobleman’s son at Cana       4:46–54
Blind man at Bethsaida   8:22–26    
Man born blind       9:1–41
Raising Lazarus from the Dead       11:1–45
Curing demon possessed man/men 8:28–34 5:1–20 8:26–39  
Raising Jairus’ daughter 9:18–26 5:22–24, 35–43 8:41–42, 49–56  
Invalid at Bethesda       5:1–18
Woman with bleeding disorder 9:20–22 5:25–34 8:43–48  
The paralytic at Capernaum 9:1–8 2:1–12 5:17–26  
The leper near Genesaret 8:1–4 1:40–45 5:12–15  
Peter’s mother-in-law 8:14–17 1:29–31 4:38–39  
Restoring a withered hand 12:9–14 3:1–6 6:6–11  
A child with a demon 17:14–20 9:14–29 9:37–43  
Blind and deaf demoniac 12:22   11:14  
Sight given to two men 9:27–31      
A dumb demoniac 9:32–34      
A deaf-mute   7:1–37    
Blind Bartimaeus 20:29–34 10:46–52 18:35–43  
The Syro-Phoenician girl 15:21–28 7:24–30    
The Centurion’s servant 8:5–13   7:1–10  
Demon possessed man   1:23–27 4:33–36  
Raising the Nain widow’s son     7:11–16  
Woman crippled for 18 years     13:10–17  
A man with dropsy     14:1–6  
Ten men with leprosy     17:11–19  
Restoring Malchus’ ear     22:49–51 18:10–11

 

 

After about three years of public ministry Jesus went to Jerusalem to celebrate the Passover.  He was received by cheering crowds.  Many expected Him to form a new government and throw out the Romans.  When he told them that His kingdom was not of this world they became disillusioned.  At the same time those who had a vested interest in maintaining the status quo began to plot in earnest to kill Him.

The death of Christ.  The event of Christ’s death is central to the Christian church and faith.  Jesus death on the cross is both the foundation of our salvation and a powerful example of obedience and love.  We will devote chapter 5 to Christ’s death and resurrection.

The resurrection of Christ.  The resurrection of Jesus after His death on the cross is the single most important event in history.  It proclaimed not just His victory over death, but ours also.  We will devote chapter 5 to the study of Christ’s death and resurrection.

  

The present activity of Christ.

  

What do we know about the present activities of Christ?  First we know that all authority on heaven and earth has been given to Christ (Matthew 28:18). This means that Jesus is the active sustainer of the universe.  You can thank Him that everything doesn’t just fly into bits.  As the active force in creation He willed the universe into existence. Now the force of His will keeps the natural laws which we call physics, chemistry, and biology etc in effect.

Jesus is the head of His Church (Ephesians 1:22, Colossians 1:18). The Church is the body of Christ because all saved persons are saved into Christ.  In John 16:13 we are told that the Spirit teaches what it hears.  The Spirit is present in heaven before Christ to hear the many things Christ has yet to tell us (John 16:12–15).  Christ has the power to take us the many and form us into one body of many members, the Church.

Third, Jesus is the giver of Spiritual gifts through the ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Christ has both called and equipped us for the service of the Church and worship of Him.  While some gifts are universal in nature some are given only to certain people (Romans 12:3–8, 1 Corinthians 12:4–11).  Christ has a plan for each one of us according to His purpose (Philippians 2:13).  We should not reject what God has given us the ability to do.  We need to recognize that often the reasons for the way He has equipped us not apparent to us.

Fourth, Jesus intercedes for us, this He began to do before He left earth (John 17:1–26).  This means that Jesus is praying for you now, today. Because He is all powerful He is able to turn His attention to all of us individually. He will continue this ministry as long as any of His people are on earth (John 17:20). This present ministry of Christ was given to us in the twenty third Psalm by David. It is because He continually has us in His mind, that our salvation is secure if we are born again to Christ.

Fifth, Jesus is our advocate before the judgment throne of God. If it were not for the advocacy of Christ in heaven our continued sin as Christians would destroy the fellowship we have with God.  What is necessary on our part is to be sorry for and confess our sin to Him (1 John 1:9). Jesus pleads our cause before God, and the sufficiency of His death to pay for the penalty that is rightfully ours.

Sixth, Christ is building. He has gone ahead of us into heaven and is preparing a place for us to reside (John 14:1–3).  Jesus has taken personal interest in our future abode!

Seventh, Jesus is expecting to return for us.  He is preparing to return at a time known only the Father (Mark 13:32).  We do not know when this time will occur, but hope for enough time to gather the harvest.[8]

The following poem talks about our present relationship with Christ as Christians.

  

No distant Lords have I,

Loving far to be.

Made flesh for me He cannot rest

Until He rests in me.

 

Ascend now to God

My witness there to be

His witness here I am because

His Spirit dwells in me.

 

I need not journey far

This dearest friend to see.

Companionship is always mine

He makes His home with me.

 

O glorious Son of God,

Incarnate Deity,

I shall ever be with Thee

Because Thou are with me.

 

I envy not the twelve.

Nearer to me is He

The life He once lived here on earth

He lives again in me.[9]

  

The Future Activities of Christ

  

To go into depth about the second advent of Christ is beyond the scope of this text.  However we know that Christ will return to earth as a physical presence to do several things.  Primarily, He will come for His redeemed to take us to be with Him in heaven. 

Let me just say that knowing some things about Jesus is not the same as knowing Jesus.  If you feel that you don’t know him, ask someone to help you.  Christ may have equipped them to share Christ with you. If you know someone who wants to know about Jesus, but does not know Him personally, perhaps Jesus has put you in his or her life to share what a faith in Christ is. If you don’t know what to do, pray, and lead him to someone who can help.  Then allow Christ to equip you to do a part in his body, the Christian church.

  

  

Discussion Questions

  

  

  

    1. Why do you suppose Christ is mentioned by the Old Testament Prophets?

  

  

  

    2. Why was Christ born of a woman?

  

  

  

    3. Why was Christ born of the Spirit?

  

  

  

    4. List some of the central themes of Jesus’ ministry on earth.

  

  

  

    5. What is Jesus doing now that has an impact on your life today?

  

  

  

  

 



[1] Know What You Believe  by Paul E. Little  c 1970, 1985, 1987 by SP Publications

[2] This list of Isaiah prophecy verses was compiled by Jeff Scheibe on the Today’s Issues- Religion conference on the Exec-PC computer bulletin board in Milwaukee WI Sept 15, 1990

[3] Knowing God  by J I Packer  c 1973  published by Intervarsity Press

[4] W. C. Dix, 1837–1898

[5] A H Strong, Systematic Theology  c 1907 Judson Press pp 676

 [6] Ray Palmer 1808–1887

[7] Table of Jesus’ miracles from Salvation Online Network  Christian BBS

 [8] The section on the present ministry of Christ was gathered from Systematic Theology  c 1948 by L C Chafer  vol V Christology pp 273–278

[9] Maltbie D. Babcock, 1858–1901