WHO JESUS IS: Understanding the nature of Jesus
READINGS: John 1:1-5; Colossians 1:15-23
LOOK-ALIKE COMPETITIONS: It is quite fashionable to hold look-alike competitions resembling a celebrity or member of the Royal Family… but of course, it isn’t the ‘real’ person
In the film Singing in the Rain where talking pictures replace silent movies, an unknown singer/actress has to ‘dub’ for the real actress, who has a squeaky voice, so is wholly unsuitable for the ‘talkies’! The audience is completely taken in by the trick!
WE ARE NOT ALWAYS WHO WE SEEM…
Are you seeing the ‘real’ me? Who is the real me?
- Sadly, the gracious and friendly person in church can behave differently at home can behave differently in the home or at work
- However, the apparently aloof and unfriendly person may just be shy or under-confident
BUT IF SOMEONE WERE TO ASK YOU: ‘Who is the real Jesus?’ what would you say?
JESUS ASKED HIS DISCIPLES: ‘Who do the people say I am?’ (The answer varied: Elijah, John the Baptist, one of the prophets…) but then Jesus asked: but who do you say I am?
- Our response to this question is probably the most important answer we can give to any question.
ASK A PERSON IN THE STREET about Jesus and you might receive a response such as:
- Someone in the Bible/ a baby in a manger/ someone in the Nativity Story/ a good man/ a prophet…
- Or: Who? I’ve no idea!
So who exactly IS the Jesus of the Bible?
In John chapter 1 we find out about Jesus’ CV:
- He is known as ‘The Word’ (an unusual title)…because He only has to speak and things happen
- He was there in the beginning: “Before Abraham was, I am”
- All things were made through Him …He was, so to speak, the manager and gatekeeper of creation
- Life was found in Him that brought light… true life is always associated with light…”Once I was blind but now I see”
- In verse 14, the Word became flesh and lived on earth
Quite a CV!
Some cults and religions dispute Jesus’ status as God …they argue that although such claims were made by His disciples, Jesus himself never said any such thing
- Yet when Thomas cried: ‘My Lord and my God’, Jesus accepted it
- And who but God could change from a spiritual being to a human being and back again?
- Who but God could be ‘with us always, even to the end of the age’
- Jesus is also referred to as the ‘Alpha and Omega’ in Revelation 1 (see verses 8 and 18) …the very title given to God Himself
- And Jesus performed about 40 miracles, including healing physical and mental illness, supernaturally influencing nature (e.g. miraculous catch of fish), passing through a lynch mob untouched, feeding thousands of people from a lunchbox, stilling a storm by speaking to it, restoring a hand after it had withered away and an ear after it had been severed, walking on water, and raising at least three people from the dead
- And these are just the recorded incidents! John says there were many more
Of course, some people might still be sceptical:
- Perhaps the miracles were made up
- Perhaps there’s a logical explanation
- Perhaps people were hallucinating
- Perhaps someone imagined the events
- Perhaps the Gospel writers were simply spinning a yarn?
All four of them colluding? Highly unlikely!
It’s clear that this man, Jesus, did amazing things…but, of course, so did Moses, Elijah, Elisha and even the Apostles
However, the greatest miracle exclusive to Jesus the Christ (Messiah, Saviour) was when He rose from the dead…
- His appearance to the disciples and others
- The fact that hundreds saw Him
- And, not least, the transformation in people’s lives afterwards
Jesus referred to Himself as the Son of God/Man
- The word “Son” is not a ‘birth’ relationship…it’s a role relationship
- God the Father, Son and Holy Spirit have different roles
- The relationship of the Son to the Father is somewhat akin to a construction company called Bloggins and Son…the father supervises the building work; the son deals with contract arrangements
- And the Holy Spirit (in this very inadequate analogy) liaises with clients
GOD THE FATHER…creating the kingdom
GOD THE SON… overseeing and sustaining the work of the kingdom
GOD THE SPIRIT…extending the work of the kingdom
Three in one and one in three: Just as an egg consists of a shell, albumen and yolk… All three can be called “an egg” but they are inter-dependent and serve different purposes within the same body
So what/where was Jesus before He was a baby?
- He was with God and He was God…sustaining all things by His mighty power
- He was spirit…for the Bible tells us that God is spirit and all who worship Him must do so in spirit and in truth
- He was the star-keeper, the overseer of the billions of galaxies, as well as our own world
And why did He come to live on earth at all?
- In some States of America there are criminals on ‘death row’
- They have been found guilty of breaking the law by committing murder and must pay with their own lives
- The Bible describes sin as an offence against God, for which there must be payment… eternal separation from God in death
- Left to ourselves, we would have to pay the penalty
- The penalty is twofold: (a) missing the blessing of God in this life; (b) forfeiting the blessing of Christ in the next life
BUT GOD HAD A PLAN FROM THE BEGINNING OF TIME
- Instead of each person being responsible for his or her own sin, God would pay the price Himself
- Because however hard we try, our lives just don’t measure up to God’s standard for us
Some things are simply not achievable by human effort
- And we can try as hard as possible to reach the standard God has set… but we will always fall short… like shooting at a target but without the strength to make the arrow reach its goal
- God is not being unreasonable here…it is in the nature of God that sin is an offence to Him
- It’s a bit like oil and water… sin and the righteousness of God don’t mix!
SO WHO WOULD PAY THE PENALTY INSTEAD OF US? One of the prophets? The humblest man on earth? The best-living person in the world? Or perhaps thousands of animal sacrifices?
- At one time God accepted animal sacrifices from Jews, but in Jeremiah 31 we read that this was only for a period of time during the life of Israel “under law”…but under grace every person would be responsible for his or her own sin
- From now on it would be, literally, every man for himself!
THE STAIN OF SIN TOUCHES EVERY LIFE so no person exists who can pay the penalty for another person’s wrong… and we cannot do it for ourselves
- It would be like you asking me to take your place singing a solo in choir because you had lost your voice…when I can only croak!
- Or for me to plead your innocence in court when I was breaking the same law myself… Under such circumstances, my word would count for nothing
SO GOD WAS LEFT WITH ONE OPTION… to bear our sin Himself
But how was He do to do this? For God is a spirit bein
- Only by becoming a man, living a sin-free life and willingly paying the penalty instead of me
- And as the penalty for sin is death…so He had to die
“O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary for the Messiah (Christ) to suffer these things and to enter into His glory? And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He (Jesus) explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures” (Luke 24:25-27)
SO WHO IS JESUS? Answer: Jesus is the world’s sin-bearer
And where is “Jesus” now?
- He is Jesus the man no longer
- He has returned to His position alongside the Father where by His grace He speaks on our behalf
- When Man was created it was God the Father who walked alongside Adam and Eve in the cool of the Garden
- When Man needed a Saviour it was God the Son who walked alongside him
- Now that the Son has returned to heaven it is the God the Holy Spirit (sometimes referred to as ‘the Spirit of Christ’) who has the chief role in walking alongside us and within us to offer comfort, counsel and rebuke
And what will Jesus do in the future?
- The Bible is very clear that Christ will return to earth to herald a new phase in the history of the world…one that will never end
- This time He will not come as Saviour but as Supreme Judge of all the world
I BEGAN BY ASKING ABOUT THE ‘REAL YOU’
- When we die… when the new heaven and earth are formed, the Bible tells us that there will be an end to pretence… The ‘real you’ will be laid bare
- All the religious trimmings and trappings will count for very little
- Contrived friendliness and pleasantries will be seen for what they are…false and worthless
- The good deeds that we hoped would satisfy God will not be enough… though for the believer, the Bible makes clear that our reward will depend to a large extent on our obedience
So on that day GOD WILL ASK US: Who do YOU say that Jesus is?
- It’s more than an academic question
- The answer we give is a life-and-death one
God will be asking: to what extent did your profession of faith in me match up to the kind of person you allowed me to make you?
- I offered to set you free from the penalty of sin… Did you accept?
- I offered to give you the Holy Spirit to lead you into all truth… Did you prefer to go by your feelings instead?
- I said that I would give you power to overcome evil and do even greater works on earth than I did (note!)… Did you avail yourself of the offer?
- I promised that I would walk beside you all the way… Did you invite me to share your journey?
Sadly, too many of us walk by sight (circumstances) and not by faith (what God promises)
- We say that we believe in God and trust Him… yet a visitor from outer space might wonder how seriously we hold those beliefs!
- We claim that we want God’s power in our lives… but too often appear powerless
- We sing our hymns and songs with gusto… yet our deeds don’t necessarily match our intentions!
So WHO IS JESUS?
- He is the One in whom we can have full confidence
- The One who is the Bread of Life, the Light of the World, the Way, the Truth and the Life, the Good Shepherd, the Gate, the Resurrection & the Life
- The One the world desperately needs to hear about
No Jesus, no salvation, no hope, no purpose, no future
My Friend (a poem by Linda Dallis (slightly amended)
I have a dear friend I can count on
When all other friends turn away
He sits with me every evening
And walks with me through the day
He cheers me when I am lonely
He comforts me when I grieve
He’s the only friend who stands by me
When rough times make other friends leave
If I lost all my worldly possessions
And my life should suddenly end
When I walk through death’s shadowy valley
My hand will be held by my Friend
Then when I awake in His presence
And gaze on His glorious face
I’ll know it was not by my doing
But my Friend’s remarkable grace.