Jesus Christ is the person who has fascinated and influenced the history of humanity more than anyone else. He is the most important historical figure that has ever lived. He has transformed and continues to transform history and all those who trust in him. No reasonable person can remain indifferent to him. Every time we write a letter it bears a date which counts the years since his birth.
Jesus: a historical figure
The most complete and reliable source of information concerning the person of Christ and what he did are to be found in the Word of God, the Bible. Those who do not know the Scriptures cannot possibly know Jesus Christ.
Jesus is God
Jesus Christ is the only man who has ever claimed to be God, and to have convinced a large part humanity of the truth of his assertion. Moses, Buddha, Mohammed, Confucius none of these ever asserted as much. In this lies the essential difference between Christianity and other religions of the world.
Let us examine what the Christian Scriptures say about Jesus Christ.
Jesus once asked his disciples the fundamental question regarding his identity:
When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi he put this question to his disciples, 'Who do people say the Son of man is?' . They answered: "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." (Matthew 16:13-14)
However, Jesus was much more than a prophet. God did reveal himself through the words of the prophets but now, with Jesus, we have the perfect image and revelation of God and only God can be the perfect reflection and revelation of God. No man on earth could be the perfect image of God. Jesus then asked his disciples who they thought he was and it was Peter who spoke on behalf of all. Peter gave the following answer: "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
Jesus, in no uncertain terms, declared that Peter's answer was inspired by God himself:
Simon son of Jonah, you are a blessed man! Because it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven. (Matthew 16:16-17)
Jesus was the Son of God, not a mere prophet. Notice also the two phrases or titles contained in these sentences, "Son of man" and "Son of God". Jesus was both the son of man and son of God. Here we have the dual nature of Jesus: divine and human. As the Son of man he has the essence of humanity, as the Son of God he has the essence of the divinity. Colossians 2:15 says that Jesus is the "image" of the invisible God.
He [Jesus] is the image of the unseen God, the first-born of all creation, for in him were created all things in heaven and on earth: everything visible and everything invisible, thrones, ruling forces, sovereignties, powers - all things were created through him and for him. He exists before all things and in him all things hold together, and he is the Head of the Body, that is, the Church. He is the Beginning, the first-born from the dead, so that he should be supreme in every way. (Colossians 2:15-18)
"Image of the unseen God". No man or prophet can ever say he is the "image" of God. Jesus was not a mere man or prophet. An image is not a mere resemblance, with only some features in common but not others. If I take a photo of a person, have it developed and then show it to the person concerned I can legitimately say "this is you". It not only shows a certain resemblance but it is the person. This does not mean that that the piece of paper bearing the image is flesh and blood! It is an image. When a person looks in a mirror he can legitimately say: "that is me", not only a resemblance, although the mirror is a piece of glass and not flesh and blood..
In these verses (Colossians 2:15-18) a clear distinction is being made between being "born" and being "created". The two concepts cannot be confused. Someone who is born issues from the same nature and essence of the person who gives birth. The Son of God (Jesus) is born of God, not created by God and therefore he has the same nature and essence of God and is clearly distinguished from the whole of creation in these verses.
The word "firstborn" has another, more significant meaning that goes beyond the person born first in chronological order. It implies "pre-eminence", "importance", "lord", this is made clear from the words "supreme in every way" (Colossians 2:15-18). Jesus is the Lord of creation because, as the verses say it was he who created all. He created everything, he is the creator: he brought all creation into existence:
Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him (John 1:1).
He is clearly not part of creation but is above creation, he is the Son of God, not the creation of God, he is Lord of all creation and "all" means "all" not as Jehovah's witnesses claim "all [other] things" (NW Translation).
This identity of Jesus as the "image" of God explains why he could truly say: "anyone who has seen me has seen the Father" (John 14:9). John expressed himself even more boldly: "I am in the Father and the Father is in me" (John 14:10). Notice the word "in". This central truth of Christianity was unambiguously proclaimed by Jesus and is unambiguously proclaimed by all true Christians. Jesus was not only a prophet but the Son of God. Jesus was "in" the Father and the Father was "in" him, there could be no greater expression of oneness. Jesus is "one" with the Father, of the same essence as the Father, he is "God from God", of one essence and being with the Father, distinct and yet one. Here is the whole text and context of the above passage:
If you know me, you will know my Father too. From this moment you know him and have seen him. Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and then we shall be satisfied.' Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? 'Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father, so how can you say, "Show us the Father"? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? What I say to you I do not speak of my own accord: it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his works. You must believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe it on the evidence of these works. (John 14:7-11)
John begins his Gospel with this radical, revolutionary outburst affirming the essential identity of Jesus Christ:
In the beginning was the Word: the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things came into being, not one thing came into being except through him. ... The Word became flesh, he lived among us" (John 1:1-3, 14)
There could be no more attention grabbing beginning to John's Christian message to mankind. The Word, Christ, already existed in the beginning (of time), he was with God before the beginning of time, he was God before the beginning of time, eternally begotten of the Father. Jesus is God become man ("The Word became flesh, he lived among us"). The reality of these words is the essence of the Christian belief, the indispensable foundation of Christian faith. Each man is free to believe it or not, but no man is free to meddle with it, water it down or attempt to explain it away.
The reality of these words resound clearly throughout the Scriptures. When Jesus appeared to unbelieving Thomas after the resurrection Jesus brought the same truth home to him:
Then he spoke to Thomas, 'Put your finger here; look, here are my hands. Give me your hand; put it into my side. Do not be unbelieving any more but believe.' Thomas replied, 'My Lord and my God!' Jesus said to him: You believe because you can see me. Blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe. (John 20:27-29)
This is the confession of all Christians: Jesus is Lord and God and this cannot be the reality or profession of faith of any man unless it is first revealed by the Father through his Holy Spirit: "nobody is able to say, 'Jesus is Lord' except in the Holy Spirit". (1 Corinthians 12:3). Would you like Jesus to be your Lord and your God also? This is the fundamental issue.
Tune your spirit to the Spirit of the Lord, be on the same wavelength and this will be revealed to you, too. You, too, will proclaim that Jesus is your Lord, your God as Thomas did and you will be blessed as Thomas was.
Christians do not believe in a system of philosophy but in the reality of Jesus Christ, true God and true man in whom the fullness of the divinity dwells and who rose from the dead and is still with us working around us, in us and for us:
Make sure that no one captivates you with the empty lure of a 'philosophy' of the kind that human beings hand on, based on the principles of this world and not on Christ. In him, in bodily form, lives divinity in all its fullness, and in him you too find your own fulfillment. (Colossians 2:8-10)
Please read that again! "And in him [Jesus] you too find your own fulfillment". Many run around in all directions to fulfil themselves, to achieve happiness and the source of fulfilment and happiness is right there staring at them in the face. Your true fulfilment lies here, in accepting the person of Christ. You will NOT find fulfillment in another man or woman, in a philosophy or least of all in the accumulation of wealth. Christ is the way out of this death trap that materialism sets because he is the way into the divine life: "I am the Way; I am Truth and Life" (John 14:6)
Anyone who wants to become a Christian must accept who Jesus really is. No one can know who he is by his own efforts, by his own intellectual ability. It must be revealed by the Holy Spirit of God as Jesus said to Peter "it was no human agency that revealed this to you but my Father in heaven." (Matthew 16:17). If you open up your mind and your heart, your soul and your spirit God will reveal this truth to you, too, in the same way that it was revealed to Peter. You cannot arrive at this by your intellect alone. It is the Holy Spirit that will reveal to your spirit this truth: "the Spirit himself joins with our spirit to bear witness that we are children of God." (Romans 8:16). If we want to come to the truth, to experience the truth, our spirit must be in tune with the Holy Spirit of God, this is the only channel that God has chosen. The Holy Spirit reveals Christ, Christ brings us to the Father. The whole of the triune Godhead is involved in our salvation. Are you prepared to accept that or throw it away? The choice is yours, no one else's.
If you are undertaking this journey with us please let us know and we can be with you spiritually and sustain you with our thoughts and prayers. Our email: email@example.com.
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