The Christian life is all about Jesus. He is the center, the crux of everything. There is no Christianity without Jesus. There is no life without Him. The apostle John wrote: “In Him was life, and His life was the light of men” (John 1:4). All of the religions of the world are an attempt by man to get to God. Idols and avatars, false priests and temples, so-called “sacred writings,” and even mystical rocks and ancient stones—all of these are man’s attempt to find God. However, there is no way to God without Jesus. He is the mediator, the bridge between God and humanity (1 Timothy 2:5). If you have confessed Him as Lord and Savior, then you have taken the first step in following Jesus Christ. The focus of this lesson is on the person and work of Jesus.
The Person of Jesus
Jesus (means “Jehovah is salvation”) is the human name of the Lord (Master, Ruler) Christ (Messiah, Anointed One). He is the Second Person of the Triune God who became man (John 1:1-14) for the purpose of saving people from sin (Matthew 1:21). Because Jesus is co-equal with the Father, He is self-existent even as God the Father is. This means that He existed before His incarnation. He has no beginning and will have no ending because He does not change (Hebrews 13:8). Not only did He exist before His human birth, but He existed before creation. He has always been and will always be. Jesus Himself affirmed this truth (John 8:56-58, 17:5, 24). He is “the one who was from the beginning” (John 1:1). The Old Testament refers to Jesus as “the mighty God, the everlasting Father (Isaiah 9:6-7). His going forth is “from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). Jesus is before “all things,” and through Him “all things consist” (Col 1:17). He is a visible manifestation of the invisible God, an exact representation of the Father (Hebrews 1:3). Consequently, we call Jesus “God.” This is part of our confession that makes up our salvation (Romans 10:9-10). He is a member of the Godhead. He was called “Lord” in the divine sense (Matt 3:3; Luke 1:76; John 1:23; cf. Isa 40:3). He is omnipotent (Matthew 8:26-27; Mark 8:1-9), omniscient (John 2:23-25; 4:16-18), and sovereign (Mark 2:5-7). He forgives men of their sin (Mark 2:1-12; Luke 7:36-50).
He also affirmed His own deity (Matthew 26:63; Mark 14:61; John 4:25). He declared “I am the bread of life” (John 6:35). Only those who partake of this bread will live forever. He said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). He is the one who illumines the minds of natural men that are in spiritual darkness. He brings light to men. He said, “I am the door” (John 10:9) which refers to His sheepfold as only gateway into salvation. There is no other door. He said, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 9:11). For all who are wandering like a lost sheep, Jesus is the one who goes out to find them. He said, “I am the resurrection and the life” (John 11:25-26). The only true life that a human can experience is the life in Jesus. Human life is a journey towards death. Jesus is the resurrection from death. He conquered death when He rose from the dead. He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is the only pathway to the Father. There is no other path to God. Finally, Jesus said, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1). Only those who abide in Jesus find fruitfulness in life. He is the one who brings satisfaction and joy. Without Him, Jesus said, “we can do nothing” (John 15:5).
He is the “Son of God.” This does not mean “physical offspring.” Rather, in Jewish thinking “son” means “to have the same essential nature.” For example, for a man to be called “son of Belial” did not mean that Belial or Satan is his biological father. It means that the conduct of an individual is Satanic (1 Samuel 2:12). The New Testament gives Jesus the title “Son of God” (Matt 3:17, Romans 1:3-4, 1 Thessalonians 1:10). When Jesus said He was the “Son of God,” He declared His equality with God and even His enemies understood what He meant (John 5:17-18). This means that Jesus has the divine prerogatives as God. Even though there is a functional subordination of Jesus to the will of the Father, this does not make Jesus to be less than God. They work together (John 5:19). They have a unique love relationship (John 5:20). They both give life to men (John 5:21). As the Son of God, Jesus inherits all things (Heb 1:2). He created all things (Hebrews 1:2). He reveals God’s glory and nature (Heb 1:3). He sustains all things (Heb 1:3). He cleanses sinful man (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus is the ultimate revelation of God to man.
He is also the “Son of Man.” Biblical prophecy foretold the coming of Jesus (Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7:14, 9:6, Micah 5:2). This is what the Gospels record (Matthew 1:22, Luke 2:1-32, John 1:14). The story of Jesus’ earthly life is a story of a human. It accounts that Jesus was born, grew up in childhood, and experienced a normal human life every man or woman experiences. He experienced hunger (Matthew 4:2). He experienced thirst (John 4:7). He became tired (Matthew 8:23-25). He had human emotions. He was sometimes sad and disappointed (Matthew 9:36, Mark 3:5). He was so human, that those who did not believe on Him merely thought Him to be just another man. Unbelievers from His hometown clearly recognized Him as the son of the carpenter (Joseph) and Mary (Matthew 13:54-56). The Bible asserts that He had a human nature (Philippians 2:5-8; Hebrew 2:14-17). He was referred to as a man (1 Corinthians 15:21; Hebrews 10:12). He was born like a human baby is born (Matt 1:20-25, Luke 2:6-12). Everyone who met Him believed Him to be human, specifically, a Jewish man (John 4:7-9). His death involved the process of physically death. When He rose from the dead, He rose physically from the tomb. We, therefore, confess that Jesus is fully man.
The Nicene Creed, written in 325 A.D. (later amended in 381 A.D.), states:
I believe in…one Lord Jesus Christ,
the Only Begotten Son of God,
born of the Father before all ages.
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made, consubstantial with the Father;1
through him all things were made.
For us men and for our salvation
he came down from heaven,
and by the Holy Spirit was incarnate of the Virgin Mary,
and became man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate,
he suffered death and was buried,
and rose again on the third day
in accordance with the Scriptures.
He ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory
to judge the living and the dead
and his kingdom will have no end.
The Life and Ministry of Jesus
The Scriptures teach that Jesus was born of a virgin. His birth is supernatural in nature as there is no biological basis for the virgin birth. The Old Testament prophesied that this would take place (Isaiah 7:14). Matthew cites this verse from Isaiah (Matthew 1:23). He uses the Greek word parthenos for Isaiah’s Hebrew word almah, and this Greek word clearly refers to a “virgin.” Other New Testament passages also indicate that Jesus was born by the virgin Mary (Luke 1:31, Galatians 4:4).
He lived a sinless life. Because Jesus was virgin born He did not have an “Adamic” sin nature. This means that Jesus was not born with a sinful flesh. He was impeccable (meaning He could not sin). Even with that truth, it is remarkable that Jesus never sinned. Think about it this way. Jesus never lusted. He never swore. He never lied or gossiped about others. He never stole anything. He was never prideful or boastful. He never disobeyed His earthly parents. He never wasted a minute of time. He never laughed at a crude or evil joke. He was never sinfully depressed. He never entertained a sinful thought. He was perfect. He loved the Father with all His body, mind, and strength. He was holy, undefiled, and separate from sinners (Hebrews 7:26). He “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
He performed countless miracles. He turned water into wine, miraculously changing the physical composition of the water (John 2:1-11). He healed the noble man’s son (John 4:43-54). He cast out demons (Mark 1:21-27; Luke 4:31-36). He healed Peter’s mother (Matthew 8:14-15), He healed many who were sick (Matthew 8:16-17). He cleansed lepers (Mark 1:40-45). He healed the lame man with the blessing of forgiveness of sin (Luke 5:17-26). He healed the man with the withered hand (Matthew 12:9-14). He raised the widows’ son from the dead (Luke 7:11-17). He raised Jairus’ daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:18-26). He healed the blind (Matt 9:27-31). He healed the mute (Matt 9:32-34). He fed 5,000 people from just five loaves of bread and two fish (Mark 6:30-44). He walked on water (Mark 6:45-52). He told His disciple Peter to go catch a fish and said that a coin would be in its mouth and it was (Matthew 17:24-27). He raised Lazarus from the dead (John 11:1-45). He cursed the fig tree and it withered (Matt 21:18-22). He reattached Malchus’ ear after Peter cut it off (Luke 22:50-51).
The Scriptures also teach that Jesus died a physical death foretold in the Old Testament (Psalm 22; Isa 52:13-53:12). His death is sufficient for salvation (Romans 3:21-26; Hebrews 9:28-10:10). His blood provided atonement for sin. Jesus provided the “penal satisfaction” for our sin in His death at Calvary. The Bible clearly teaches that the Old Testament animal sacrifices could not sufficiently forgive sins (Hebrews 10:4) and that man cannot save himself (Psalms 49:7-9; Isaiah 59:16). Only the vicarious death of Jesus could save sinful men (Luke 24:25-26). Based on the righteousness of Jesus, God declares those who accept Jesus by faith to be free from guilt and punishment (Romans 3:24-26). This is entirely by God’s grace. Jesus’ atonement for sin satisfies God’s holy standard. God is intrinsically holy (Isaiah 57:15). He is free from evil (Deuteronomy 32:4; 1 John 1:5). God cannot abide sin (Habakkuk 1:13). God must judge sin (Gen 2:16; Ezek 18:20; Rom 6:23; 1 Cor 15:56). Jesus became the perfect sacrifice (1 Peter 1:18-20). Jesus’ sacrificial death reconciles humanity to God (Romans 5:10).
He also rose from the dead. This is explained in the preaching of the apostles (Luke 24:46-49; Acts 1:21-22; 2:24, 32 36; 3:15; 4:10, 33; 10:40; 13:30; 17:30-31; 24:14-15; 26:8, 23; Romans 1:4; 1 Corinthians 15:1-3). The entire system of Christian theology is based on this truth (1 Corinthians 15:12-19). His resurrection declares His deity (Romans 1:1-5). It assures His messianic character and future reign (Acts 2:23-36). It is an apologetic for Christianity (1 Corinthians 15). It is the guarantee of the believer’s resurrection (John 14:19; 1 Peter 1:1-5). It is a demonstration of God’s power (Rom 1:4; Ephesians 1:15-23). It is an essential part of the Gospel (2 Timothy 2:8).
He ascended into Heaven (Acts 1:9). This ended Jesus’ earthly ministry (Philippians 2:5-11). His work is done (John 16:5-10; Ephesians 1:20-21; Hebrews 1:1-3). He is now exalted (Acts 2:33). He is now Lord of everything. He is at the right hand of the Father (Acts 2:33; Ephesians 1:20). He is the conqueror of evil (Ephesians 1:20-21; 3:10; 6:12). He will visibly reign over the world someday (Isaiah 9:7; Jeremiah 33:17; Acts 2:30). He is presently Lord of all (Isaiah 52:13; 53:10-12; Philippians 2:5). He will also come again in the same manner as he went into heaven (1:11).
He is our advocate. He stands between God and us, pleading for our sins (1 John 1:8-2:2). Like an attorney, He pleads our case before the Father. While we have no personal merit on which we can stand before God, because Jesus is our perfect substitute, we stand in His righteousness.
The Offices of Jesus
Jesus is the Prophet. Moses prophesied that a “prophet” like him would come (Deuteronomy 18:15-18). This prophecy is fulfilled in Jesus (John 1:45; Acts 3:20-23). As the Prophet, Jesus reveals to us who God is (John 1:18) and the “secret things of God” (Deuteronomy 29:29). God the Father commands us to listen to Him (Matthew 17:5). Jesus is also the Priest. He has provided redemption for sinful humanity (Hebrews 2:17; 4:14; 7:26). He intercedes for believers (Romans 8:34, Hebrews 2:18, 4:16). He provides us access to God (Romans 5:1-2, Hebrews 10:19-22). Because of this, we can boldly come to the “throne of grace” and find “grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16). Jesus is also the King. He exercises “all authority in heaven and earth” today (Matthew 28:18). He will come in power (Mark 14:62). He will assert His sovereign control over the earth (1 Timothy 6:14-16). He is “King of kings, and Lord of lords” (Revelation 11:15; 19:16).
Our Relationship to Jesus
God has delivered Christians from the kingdom of darkness and has put us into His own kingdom of light (Colossians 1:12-13). This act is accomplished by the “redemption” through “the blood” of Jesus, meaning that we are forgiven (past, present, future) of all our sins (Colossians 1:14). Consequently, Jesus is the “Head” of the church (Colossians 1:18). Christians are described as being part of the body of Christ. We are all “one body in Christ” (Ephesians 4:12). As our “Head,” He is pre-eminent. So, we confess that He is our Savior, Redeemer and Master (Ephesians 6:9; Colossians 4:1). The word “master” is often translated as “lord.” It refers to a person who claims his ownership over someone over something. This term teaches Christians that they belong to the Lord Jesus. We worship God through Jesus (Ephesians 3:14). In Him the “whole family” of heaven and earth is named (Ephesians 3:15). Thus, Jesus dwells in our hearts “by faith” (Ephesians 3:17). Being “rooted and grounded in love,” we come to know the fullness of the God (Ephesians 3:19). We also serve God through Christ. We are called His “ministers” (Philippians 1:1, Colossians 1:1, 7). The word “slave” (doulos) depicts our relationship to God. We give up our personal ambition to Him in order to advance His cause. We are not our own. We are devoted to His interests (Romans 1:1; Titus 1:1; James 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1). He is the one who sends us on our mission and promises to be with us on the way (Matthew 28:19-20). “Whether we eat or drink, or whatever we do, we do all for the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Personal Application Questions
- Which aspect of Christ’s person means the most to you and why?
- Which of Christ’s works means the most to you and why?
- Is there anything about being a “slave” (servant) of Jesus that gives you concern? Is there any aspect about being His servant that excites you?
- Read Isaiah 53:1-12, Philippians 1:27-2:11.
- What do you think it means when it refers to Jesus as a “tender shoot..a root out of a dry ground?” (Isaiah 53:2)
- Reflect upon the four statements in Isaiah 53:5–which of these means the most to you?
- Explain, in your own words, Isaiah 53:6
- What does it mean in Philippians 2:5 to have the “mind” of Christ?
- In what two ways did Jesus “humble Himself?” How can we be humble ourselves?
1 The Council of Nicaea repudiated anyone who claimed that Jesus was not co-equal with the Father or that He was created. Anyone who claimed that there was a time when Jesus did not exist was declared to be cursed.