Who Is This Jesus?
Almost every night we go out into the streets of Nigeria's capital or its suburbs preaching the gospel to lost humanity. After every sermon we allow questions and for an hour or more the people of this great African city will propound Bible and religious questions that are real problems to them. One of the most common of such questions, and one which is asked by many audiences, using identical words, is, "What about this Jesus, who is he?" When this was first asked me it was not a matter of grave concern, but when asked again and again it makes me know that it is a problem that deserves a sensible, simple, understandable answer that will produce faith or that will strengthen faith in the hearts of the questioners.
Many fail to comprehend the significance of the sacrifice Christ made in dying for us because they fail to recognize him as a man. He was born like we were born-of a woman. His body was like our bodies-subject to pain, hunger, fatigue, sorrow, etc. When he drove the money changers and others from the temple (Jn. 11:3-5), he showed that he could be emotionally touched just like ordinary men. On the cross he said, "I thirst," demonstrating physical desires such as any man would have had under those trying circumstances. Some say he never laughed, but this cannot be proved. Some say he was altogether a "Man of sorrows," but this is also only I conjecture. He did live a sober, serious life, but by his principles we are taught to "Rejoice with them that do rejoice" as well is to "Weep with them that weep" ( Rom. 12:15). He attended a marriage feast in Cana of Galilee, which would certainly have been an occasion to rejoice with those who were rejoicing.
If we fail to understand the physical nature of Christ, we will likewise fail to comprehend the full significance of his suffering and death. It was not a god, but a man that died on the cross. The agony there was not lessened by the fact of his divinity, but rather it was endured because of the fact of his humanity.
But Jesus was not just a man. He is the only begotten Son of God-the only person who was ever born of a woman and did not have a human father. Mary "was found with child of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 1:18), and they were to "call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us" (Matt. 1:23). Every other creature that has borne human flesh since the days of Adam and Eve has been born of man and woman. But not Jesus! He was born of the Holv Spirit and woman. His mother, Marv, was a virgin-a woman who had not known man (Luke 1:34)-that is, she was a woman who had not known the intimate relationships that produce a conception.
Sometimes we are asked, "How can we believe this story?" Jesus said, "Ye believe in God, believe also in me" (Jn. 14:1 ). True belief in God and His word will produce belief in Jesus also. Christ fulfilled the word of God - the word of prophecy given many, many years before. In every detail the scripture was fulfilled regarding him. On at least two occasions God said, "This is my Son" Matt. 3 :17; 17:5). But we can also believe in Jesus because of his own work-the things he did demonstrated that he is what he claimed to be. (Jn. 20:30, 31; 3:2.) We can believe In Christ because of the testimoriv of his disciples who died telling the story, and because of the acknowledgment of his enemies who admitted that "Truly this was the Son of God" (Matt. 27:54.)
Jesus is the only one who lived to an age of responsibility and still did no sin. "All have sinned," said Paul (Rorn. 3:23), but Christ was excluded (2 Cor. 5:21). Sin is the common fault of all people who are responsible for their own actions-rich and poor, educated and uneducated, black, white, red and yellow, all are guiltv of transgressing the will of the Lord. But Jesus lived thirty-three years without an evil thought, an evil word or an evil deed. He went about doing good, and did no harm at all. It is not true that he did no sin because he could not sin, for He "was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin" (Heb. 5:15). If He was truly tempted, He could certainly have yielded to the temptation, and such would have been sin. Thus it is evident that Jesus could have taken the stones and commanded them to be bread for his personal use, He could have cast himself down from the pinnacle of the temple just as a demonstration before people and he could have taken the kingdoms of this world for his own. However, He did not sin, not because He could not sin, but because he would not sin. He said, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will but the will of Him that sent me" (Jn. 6:38). His will was perfectly dedicated to God's will - He was perfectly subjective to the will of the Father.
Jesus is the only one who willingly died for his enemies. Others have died for friends, and some may have been forced to die for enemies but Christ gave himself "A ransom for many" (Matt. 20:28). He dreaded the cross and despised its shame, for he was completely able to comprehend its agony even before he climbed Golgotha's hill, but he did not surrender to self-pity, fear or personal desires, but with a compassionate appeal that his enemies might be able to receive forgiveness, he submitted to the death of the cross in behalf of every sinner. He did not die because he was helpless to prevent it, for a whispered word from his lips would have brought death to every enemy, but he died because it was the only way to redeem lost humanity.
Jesus is the only one whose body has been resurrected to die no more. On that third day his body came forth, having put off mortality in every way and having thus become the conqueror over death and the grave. It was the preaching of this resurrection story that brought death to many early disciples, for it is not difficult to believe that Jesus died, but many refused to believe that his body was made alive again. Even today his death is hardly questioned, but whether or not he is resurrected is a matter of much dispute, for this is the very crucial point of unbelief. But after his body rose from the grave, he was seen by the twelve, by other disciples on occasions, and for fortv days he showed himself to those who were to be his witnesses (Acts 1:2-8). Indeed, "Up from the grave he arose, with a mighty triumph o'er his foes." The thrilling and magnificent story of the resurrected Lord is a great and dynamic power, drawing sinful men to God.
"And he is the head of the body, the church . . . that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18). He is before all others. He alone is head of the church which he purchased with his own blood. God hath "put all things under his feet, and gave him to be head over all things to the church" (Eph. 1:22). The Father sacrificed his Son for us, but he utilized that sacrifice to the fullest extent by making the resurrected Son head of the purchased church, and by giving him all power in heaven and in earth (Matt. 28:18).
The prophet Daniel said (Dan. 2:44), . . the God of heaven shall set up a Kingdom which shall never be destroyed," and speaking prophetically of Jesus he said, "There was given him dominion and glory and a kingdom, that all people, nations and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed" (Dan. 7:14). Hebrews 12:28 indicates that the kingdom has been received, and in Acts 2:29-36 Peter tells of the crowning of Christ in the present kingdom (which is the church). Indeed he is today, "King of Kings and Lord of Lords" (Rev. 19:16). He will reign over this present kingdom until the last enemy (death) is destroyed (I Cor. 15:24-26), and then he will deliver the kingdom up to the Father.
When Christ has finished his work as King, he will come in his glory, and all his holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: And before him shall be gathered all nations, and he shall separate thern one from another, as a shepherd separates the sheep f rom the goats" (Matt. 25:31, 32). He shall be "revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ" (2 Thess. 1:7, 8). His decision will he based upon the deeds we have done (Rom. 2:6; Rev. 22:12).
As the crucified Saviour he paid the price for our redemption; as the resurrected Lord he gave us hope of life after death; as the sinless son of God he revealed the Father to us and gave us the perfect example to follow; as the head of the church he gave every directive for his people (2 Tim. 3:16, 17); as the King, over God's people he has all authority today; and as the judge he will finally declare the destiny of all people of all ages, races and cultures. By faith in him you can be brought to salvation, and by obedience to him you actually receive that redemption. Indeed, "by grace are ye saved, through faith . . ." (Eph. 2:8) when your faith expresses itself in obedience (Rom. 6:17, 18). This Jesus of whom you ask can be your Savior and King. He will certainly someday be your Judge. Believe and obey him TODAY.
Truth Magazine IV:6; pp. 22-24