Jesus. No individual has had such a profound
effect on so many cultures and so many
people. Think of our society and how different
it would be if Jesus had never lived:
- the world reckons time based on Jesus’ birth
- our nation was founded on Christian principles by God-fearing men
- many of our holidays honor Jesus
- hundreds of thousands of church buildings and schools have been erected in honor of Jesus
- most social help organizations were founded and exist because of Jesus
- most hospitals were built because of Jesus
- millions of people live as they do because of Jesus
- Bibles reside in homes because of Jesus.
Yes, our society would be very different if not
for a man named Jesus. But who is Jesus and
why is he so important?
The New Testament uses several terms to describe Jesus—his nature, his position, and his actions. Here are just a few of those key terms.
God. God is the eternal, All-Knowing, All-Powerful, Ever-Present, All-Wise, All-Loving, Perfectly holy creator. The scriptures teach that Jesus was, and is, God. (See John 1:1-4; John 20:28; Hebrews 1:1-3; Titus 2:3; Colossians 1:15-18; Colossians 2:9.)
Son of God, Son of Man. When Jesus “became flesh” (John 1:14), he was begotten by the Holy Spirit (“Son of God”) and born to a young virgin named Mary (“Son of Man”). (See Matthew 1:18-21; Matthew 2:11; Hebrews 4:14-16; Hebrews 5:5.) These phrases describe his dual nature.
Christ. The Greek word christos translates the Hebrew word messiah, and both mean “anointed one.” Jesus is the “anointed one,” the “holy one,” the “chosen one” highlighted in many Old Testament prophecies who would bring salvation, light, peace, and an everlasting kingdom both to Israel and to all nations.
Savior. Jesus was a teacher, a leader, a philanthropist, a moralist, and much more; but especially, he was a Savior and Redeemer. The word “savior,” meaning one who saves, describes his mission. (See Luke 19:10; John 3:16-17; Matthew 1:21; 1 John 4:13.)
Lord. The word “Lord” describes the Christian’s relationship to Jesus—he is our Master; we belong to him, we are his subjects. He gives the commands, and we follow them. (See Matthew 7:21-23; Luke 6:46; Philippians 2:5-11.)
In the Bible, the word “sin” means “to miss the proper mark.” The idea is that, through nature and scripture, God sets up a target that defines appropriate behavior, thoughts, attitudes, and character. When our lives miss that target, we sin.
The first sin occurred when Adam and Eve ate fruit from a tree that God had specifically forbidden. Since that time, all humans have sinned against God, except for Jesus.
Sin may not seem like such a terrible thing, but it is. Our God is perfectly good and holy, and he created us to be good and holy. Our sin, therefore, is an affront to his character and his good creation. Also, because our God is perfectly just, he is compelled to punish evil.
Problem #1: The penalty for sin is death, eternal separation from God and his loving care. Included in that penalty is terrible pain and suffering.
Problem #2: There is nothing that we can do to make up for our sin. Once we have sinned against God, we are guilty and condemned. We cannot turn back time, we cannot undo our evil, and we cannot win back God’s favor through giving gifts or doing good things.
The New Testament uses terms like “lost,” “dead in sin,” and “without hope” to describe our sin problem.
∎ Readings: 1 John 5:17, Genesis 2,3, Romans 6:23, Romans 3:10-23, Galatians 5:17-21, Matthew 25:41-46, Revelation 20:12-15
The good news is that God is our savior—he stepped in to rescue us when we were lost and without hope.
In the Old Testament, God asked his people to sacrifice animals as payment for their sins. The principle was, when you sinned, you sacrificed a lamb. The blood of the animals could not really pay the price for sin—the New Testament makes this point clear. So why did God instruct his people to make the sacrifices? Through the sacrifices God was teaching important principles:
∎ The penalty for sin is death.
∎ God allows substitutions—the innocent can take the place of the guilty. (Animals are innocent.)
The reason the sacrificed animals did not pay the price for sin is because an animal is not a fair and equal substitute for a human. Nevertheless, the principles God taught through those sacrifices are very important.
The real rescue came to us through Jesus. Jesus became human, one of us. He lived on the earth just like you and I, except he did so perfectly. He never sinned; his life never missed God’s target. As a perfect human, he willingly sacrificed his life, bearing the penalty for our sin in his body. He took our place!
Jesus is the source, initiator, and finisher of our salvation. He chose to pay for our sins, not because we deserve it or have earned it, but because he loves us.
∎ Readings: Leviticus 16, Hebrews 10:1-4, Ephesians 2:1-10, Romans 5:1-11
Through Jesus, God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. He made a way for us to be free from the penalty of our sin and to be restored to a relationship with him. Our salvation is a gift from God and it is available to all who desire it.
In return, God calls for those who desire salvation to give their lives to him in loving devotion. Those who place their trust in God (faith) and commit their lives fully to him (repentance) are instructed to be baptized in water. Baptism illustrates the fact that we die to sin, that our old lives are buried in the water, and that we arise to live a new life to God under the lordship of Jesus. When we give our lives to God in this way, he forgives us of all our sins and gives us his Holy Spirit.
Additionally, as long as we continue to live for God and confess our sins, he continues to forgive us through Jesus’ sacrifice. God knows we will not be perfect in our walk, so he has already made a way for our continual cleansing!
There is even more good news! If we continue to submit ourselves to Jesus, we will inherit from our Father an unending life of glory and joy. We will experience God’s good creation as he intended it to be: perfect, without sin, and in his presence.
∎ Readings: Ephesians 2:8-9, Titus 3:4-7,
John 3:16-17, Acts 2:37-41, Romans 6:1-4,
1 John 1:6-10, Colossians 3:1-17, Revelation 21:1-8
It’s all because of Jesus, and it’s all about Jesus!