ALL ABOUT CHRIST – Part 1 (By Janine Mick Wills)
THE INFLUENCE OF CHRIST
- He never wrote a book, but more books have been written about Him than anyone else in history. The current edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica contains an entry on Jesus of nearly 30,000 words.
- All the armies that have ever marched, all the navies that have ever sailed, all the parliaments that have ever sat, all the kings that have ever reigned, put together, have not affected the life of man on this earth as much as that one solitary life.
- The advent of Christ has proved to be the central event in all history. Time before His birth is recorded B.C. and time since as A.D. Every time a letter is written, sign a contract is signed, or a newspaper is printed, it is stating the number of years after the birth of Christ in Bethlehem. (A.D. means Anno Domini “In the year of the Lord,” not “after death.”)
“One Solitary Life”
He was born in an obscure village, the child of a peasant woman. He grew up in another village, where He worked in a carpenter shop until He was thirty. Then for three years He was an itinerant (traveling) preacher. He never wrote a book. He never held an office. He never had a family or owned a home. He didn’t go to college. He never visited a big city. He never traveled two hundred miles from the place where He was born. He did none of the things that usually accompany greatness. He had no credentials but Himself.
He was only thirty-three years old when the tide of public opinion turned against Him. His friends ran away. One of them denied Him. He was turned over to His enemies and went through a mockery of a trial. He was nailed to a cross between two thieves.
While He was dying, His executioners gambled for His garments, the only property He possessed. When He was dead, He was laid in a borrowed grave through the pity of a friend. Twenty centuries have come and gone, and today He is the central figure of the human race. (What If Jesus Had Never Been Born?)
Charles Lamb, an 18th century writer, and some of his friends were asked at a party as to how they would feel if some of the greatest of the dead were to appear suddenly in flesh and blood once more. The final suggestion was, “And if Christ entered this room?” Lamb’s demeanor changed at once, and he stuttered as his manner was when moved, “You see, if Shakespeare entered, we should all rise; if HE appeared, we all must kneel.”
THE UNIQUENESS OF CHRIST’S CHARACTER
- No word He spoke needed to be modified or withdrawn.
- He never apologized for word or action.
- He never asked for pardon.
- He never sought advice from even the wisest men of His day.
- He was at no pains to justify ambiguous (uncertain) conduct. (“Should I have done that?”)
- He never asked or permitted prayer for Himself.
CHRIST’S ETERNALITY (PREEXISTENCE)
I AM what I was – God.
I was not what I am – Man.
I am now called both – GOD and MAN. (from an old Latin inscription)
Christ’s preexistence is not a matter of purely academic interest, it is the foundation on which the whole superstructure of the Christian faith rests. If He was not preexistent, He cannot be God, and if He is not God, He cannot be Creator and Redeemer (The Incomparable Christ).
Many attempted to write about the life of Christ, but they have erroneously started with His birth in Bethlehem. Christ’s birth in Bethlehem was not His origin, only His incarnation. He existed from all eternity.
Jesus was unique among men in that His birth did not mark His origin, but only His appearance as a man on the stage of time. Of no other person would it be possible to distinguish between His birth and His origin or to say that His life did not begin when He was born (The Incomparable Christ).
CHRIST WAS (IS) GOD
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
John 8:58 Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.
John 10:30 I and my Father are one.
Philippians 2:6a Who, being in the form (nature) of God…
Colossians 1:15a Who is the image (likeness) of the invisible God… (God is a spirit – John 4:24 – and does not possess a body.)
If Christ was anything less than God, He could not be our Saviour. He would need a Savior Himself. We cannot understand this great mystery, but we must accept it by faith (“Any god that we can understand is no greater than we”).
CHRIST’S PREEXISTENCE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
- The Angel of the Lord – Scripture indicates the Angel was Christ/God. In the N.T. There is no further mention of the Angel of the Lord in the New Testament (See “Angel of the Lord” for more information).
|Angel of the Lord||Activity or Attribute||Christ|
|Genesis 16:7, 13||Called” Lord”||John 20:28|
|Genesis 48:15, 16||Called “God”||Hebrews 1:8|
|Exodus 3:2, 6, 14||Claimed to be “I AM”||John 8:58|
|Judges 13:15, 18||His name was “Wonderful”||Isaiah 9:6|
|Exodus 23:20||Sent from God||John 5:30; 6:38|
|Exodus 14:19||Guides God’s people||Matthew 28:20|
|Isaiah 63:9||Loved and redeemed His own||Ephesians 5:25|
|Joshua 5:13-15||Commander of the Lord’s army||Revelation 19:11-14|
- The Rock – Exodus 17:5-7 And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou
smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go. Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel. And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
Numbers 20:7-13 (Moses struck the rock in this incident rather than spoke to it as God commanded.)
1 Corinthians 10:4 And did all drink the same spiritual drink: for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ.
Other appearances of God the Son in the Old Testament (Since no man hath seen God at any time, these appearances must have been God, the Son (John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him). These appearances are called a “Christophany” or “Theophany”.
- To Abraham – Genesis 12:7; 17:1; 18:1
- To Isaac – Genesis 26:2
- To Jacob – Genesis 32:24-30 (wrestled with him); Genesis 35:9
- The Divine Captain to Joshua – Joshua 5:13
- The man with the measuring rod – Ezekiel 40:3, 4
- To Daniel – Daniel 8:15; 10:5
- Three men in the fiery furnace – Daniel 3:25
Before Jesus was born, Isaiah foretold how truly great He would be (Isaiah 9:6, 7 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this).
Who does the world consider Christ to be?
- A great leader?
- A good man?
- A mighty prophet?
He was all of the above. But if an individual believes only those things, he will die and go to hell (James 2:19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble). Some men called Christ “Teacher” and “Master,” but many of them did not receive Him (Matthew 12:38 Then certain of the scribes and Pharisees answered him, saying, Teacher, we would see a sign from thee. Matthew 22:23, 24 The same day came to him the Sadducees, which say that there is no resurrection, and asked him, Saying, Master, Moses said, If a man die, having no children, his brother shall marry his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother).
Christ was MUCH more than a great leader, a good man, and a mighty prophet.
Why then is there so much disparity concerning Him? Why does the name of Christ, more than any other religious leader (i.e. Buddha, Mohammed, or Confucius) cause such dissension? Why can you talk about God and people usually don’t get upset? But as soon as you mention Jesus, some people become defensive or want to stop the conversation? Why have men and women throughout the ages been divided over the question, “Who is Jesus?”
Matthew 10:34-36 gives part of the answer (Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household). Remember this when you go soul winning or talk to those you know about Christ. It may not be well received! (But should that stop you? No!)
The main reason the name of Christ is so divisive is because He claimed to be God (John 10:30-33 I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not; but for blasphemy; and because that thou, being a man, makest thyself God).
Christ was tried and convicted of blasphemy (Saying He was God). In most trials, people are tried for what they have done (i.e. murder, thievery, etc.), but this was not true of Christ’s trial. He was tried for who He was (Matthew 27:43 …for He said, I am the son of God).
Jesus said He was God. He didn’t leave any other options (Matthew 16:13-18 When Jesus came into the coasts of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, saying, Whom do men say that I the Son of man am? And they said, Some say that thou art John the Baptist: some, Elias; and others, Jeremias, or one of the prophets. He saith unto them, But whom say ye that I am? And Simon Peter answered and said, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Barjona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven. And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it).
Notice Jesus asked, “Whom say ye that I am” not “Whom do men say that I am?” Christ was the Master at asking questions that delved into the heart of those to whom He spoke (i.e. The Samaritan woman in John 4). Just like our Bible does today (Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart).
Let’s consider Christ’s claim that He was God. There were/are three possibilities.
1) Jesus knew His claim was false (He was lying).
2) He didn’t know it was false (the greatest delusion of all – “I am God”; a lunatic).
3) He truly was and is Who He claimed to be.
WAS CHRIST A LIAR?
If Christ knew His claim was false, He was a liar and purposely deceived His followers (Other men/leaders have done this – Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin). Not only that, Christ would also have been a hypocrite because He told others to be honest/good/perfect (Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:48 Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect).
Even more so, Christ would have been demonic because He told others to trust Him for their eternal destiny. If Christ couldn’t back up His claim and knew it, He would have been unspeakably evil. He would have purposely been giving people a false hope and allowing them to slip into Hell. And He was a fool because it was His claim of being God that led to His crucifixion.
But Christ was not a liar!
WAS CHRIST A LUNATIC?
If I stood before you and said, “I am Benjamin Franklin” (and meant it!), you’d think I was nuts. If I walked around saying and acting like I was Ben Franklin, I would probably be locked up!
If someone thought himself God, especially in a fiercely monotheistic culture, and then told others their eternal destiny depended on believing in Him, it would be no small flight of fancy but the thoughts of a lunatic in the fullest sense. Christ claimed to be God, but there was nothing about Him that lent one to believe He was anything but sane and in complete control. Even His cleansing of the Temple in Matthew 21 was a righteous anger and not the ranting of a raving lunatic.
It’s impossible to think Christ was mentally disturbed. He spoke some of the most profound things ever spoken (Mark 1:22 And they were astonished at his doctrine: for he taught them as one that had authority, and not as the scribes. John 7:45, 46 Then came the officers to the chief priests and Pharisees; and they said unto them, Why have ye not brought him? The officers answered, Never man spake like this man).
Christ was not a lunatic!
WAS AND IS CHRIST THE LORD?
John 20:31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.
The New Testament clearly presents Christ as God. The names given to Christ are such they could only be applied to one who was God (Titus 2:13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Hebrews 1:8 But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever: a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom (reference to Psalm 45:5). 1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life).
Most of Christ’s followers were devout Jews, who believed in one true God (monotheistic) (Deuteronomy 6:4 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD), yet they recognized Him as God incarnate (in human form).
Also, consider this… What happened to Lucifer when he attempted to usurp God? (Isaiah 14:13-15 For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.)
God will not give His glory to anyone (Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images). If Christ was/is not God, He was a liar and God never would have said this about Him on the Mount of Transfiguration, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him” (Matthew 17:5).
Scripture attributes characteristics to Christ that can only be true of God.
- Self-existent (John 1:4 In him was life; and the life was the light of men.)
- Omnipresent (Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.)
- Omniscient (John 6:64 But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who should betray him.)
- Omnipotent (Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.)
- Giver of eternal life (1 John 5:11, 12 And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life. 1 John 5:20 And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.)
- Jesus received honor and worship that only God should receive. In a confrontation with Satan, Jesus said, “Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve” (Matthew 4:10).
- Jesus received worship as God (Matthew 14:33 Then they that were in the ship (the disciples) came and worshipped him, saying, Of a truth thou art the Son of God. Matthew 28:9 And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him). We, too, must worship, praise, and honor our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ (Psalm 150).
- Jesus claimed to be a forgiver of sins (Mark 2:5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.) Lewis Sperry Chafer writes that “None on earth has either authority or right to forgive sin. None could forgive sin save the One against whom all have sinned. When Christ forgave sin, He was not exercising a human prerogative (right or privilege). Since none but God can forgive sins, it is conclusively demonstrated that Christ, since He forgave sins, is God.”
If Christ was anything less than God, He could not be our Saviour. He would need a Savior Himself. Whether or not you like the song “Mary, Did You Know,” there is truth to the words, “This child that you delivered, will soon deliver you.” Mary needed a Saviour just as all mankind does. She even said in Luke 1:46 and 47, “My soul doth magnify the Lord, And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.”
Christ was and is God!
Jesus Christ is actually a name and a title. It is first mentioned in Matthew 1:1 (The book of the generation of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham).
The name “Jesus” was foretold to Joseph in Matthew 1:21 (And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins).
It was foretold to Mary in Luke 1:31 (And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name JESUS).
Christ received the name Jesus eight days after His birth (Luke 2:21 And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb).
The name “Jesus” is derived from the Greek form of the name Jeshua or Joshua, meaning “Jehovah-Savior” or “the Lord saves.” But the name Jesus in itself does not give power (There were other men in the Bible and those today with the same name).
It is “Christ” that gives the name Jesus its power. The title “Christ” is derived from the Greek word for Messiah or the Hebrew Mashiach (maw-shee’-akh) (Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah (maw-shee’-akh ) be cut off, but not for himself: and the people of the prince that shall come shall destroy the city and the sanctuary; and the end thereof shall be with a flood, and unto the end of the war desolations are determined).
Christ comes from the Greek word Christos and means “anointed one.”
Two offices, king and priest, are involved in the use of the title “Christ.” Jesus’ title affirms Himself as the promised priest and king of the O.T. prophecies.
Continued at “All about Christ (Part 2)”.