Jesus: God Is With Us!
In Lesson 3 we have already learnt that true faith is based on facts. It is not wishful thinking. It is something that we can be sure of. As the Bible says:
"To have faith is to be sure of the things we hope for,
to be certain of the things we cannot see."
We will thus continue to weigh the evidence that we have about this Jesus Christ. Only then will we have a good foundation for our faith.
Before Jesus was born, an angel (a messenger from God) appeared to his mother, named Mary. He announced that she would become the mother of a Child who would not have a man for a father. His birth would be a miracle, for he would be born out of a virgin (a woman who
has never had sexual relations with any man). Then we read of his two names, which tell us a lot about him:
Jesus (Saviour): "Because he will save his people from their sins."
Immanuel: "God is with us."
( Matthew 1:21, 23.)
We have already learnt five things about Jesus. Now we will see that these two names help us to understand more about who Jesus really is:
6. He Came From Heaven
Everything that we learn about
Jesus Christ tells us that he was more than just another human. More than once Jesus revealed that he came from heaven, the home of God. Here are a few examples:
"I have come down from heaven to do not my own will
but the will of him who sent me."
"You belong to this world here below, but I come from above.
You are from this world, but I am not from this world."
"I came from God." (John 8:42.)
The Bible teaches clearly that Jesus existed before he came to earth to be born as a small baby. He came to do a special work.
7. Jesus Was and Is God '
The Jews knew the prophecies of the Old Testament. They prayed that the Saviour who was promised in the Old Testament would come. But they expected a human Saviour. They never expected that the living God himself would come to earth and be the Saviour. Again and again Jesus revealed this fact:
"I and the Father are one." (John 10:30.)
The Jews knew what he meant, and tried to kill him, and said,
"We do not want to stone you because of any good deeds,
but because of your blasphemy!
You are only a man,
but you are trying to make yourself God!"
But what do you say? Would you say that Jesus was "only a man"? Will that explain all the wonderful facts that we have seen so far? The apostle John starts his gospel by calling Jesus "the Word"
"Before the world was created, the Word already existed;
he was with God, and he was the same as God.
The Word became a human being,
and, full of grace and truth, lived among us.
We saw his glory . . .
(John 1:1, 14).
The apostle Paul, who used to be a fierce enemy of the Christian faith, came to know Christ, and then wrote:
"For the full content of divine nature lives in Christ . . .
he is supreme over every spiritual ruler and authority."
Now compare the words of the Bible with the mistaken ideas that some people have about Jesus. Some people regard him only as a great reformer or teacher who taught the world some valuable lessons while he lived.
Others believe that he was a spiritual master, a kind of prophet or "Guru" who came to help the Jewish people when they were under the Roman oppression. They feel that he
was useful for his time, but does not have much meaning for the 20th Century.
Many Hindus regard him as an "Avatar," an incarnation of God. They believe that God manifests himself whenever there is a rise of lawlessness and evil. They regard the Lord Jesus as such an "Avatar," just as they regard Krishna or Rama. He is just one "Avatar" out of many.
These are some of the ways in which the world have tried to explain who Jesus is. They are all
hopelessly wrong, even though they contain an element of truth. But remember,
"Half of the truth is the whole of a lie."
To believe something sincerely does not make that thing right or true. Truth is not dependent on human belief. If I believe that a bottle of poison is a cough mixture and drink it, I would die, even if I sincerely believed that the mixture would be good for me.
A well-known Christian, the late professor C. S. Lewis, once replied to those who
accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but not as God, in a most effective way. This is what he wrote:
"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said, would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic, or else he would be the Devil. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse. You can shut him up for a fool, you can spit at him and kill him . . . or you can fall at his feet and call
him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronizing nonsense about his being a great human Teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
(From: Mere Christianity, p. 5Z-53.)
When we make a study of all the evidence, there is only one thing we can say. Like Thomas, one of the disciples of Jesus who refused to believe at first, we can fall at Jesus' feet and say,
"My Lord and my God!" (John 20:28.)
8. He Came For a Special Purpose
The true purpose of the coming of Jesus was not only to teach and to heal. It was to save sinners and provide them with a new life. As the apostle Paul explains:
"This is a true saying, to be completely accepted and believed: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. I am the worst of them." (1 Timothy 1:15.)
God knew that all men are sinners. He knew that there is no way in which a sinner can
change his heart and pay for the "debts" of his bad "Karma". So God planned the only way for us to be saved: A pure sinless man had to be born, and the blame would be laid on him. He would take our punishment in our place.
9. He Suffered in Our Place
Jesus was captured and brought before the Jewish council. They condemned him to death for blasphemy, because he said that he was one with God (John 10:30, 33; Matthew 26:65-66).
Then Jesus, who
really was and is God, was nailed to a cross, and was left on the cross until he was dead. Even while he suffered, it grew dark at midday. At last Jesus said,
"It is finished." (John 19:30.)
Then he died. What was finished? Only his life? Let Peter explain:
"For Christ died for sins once and for all,
a good man on behalf of sinners,
in order to lead you to God."
(1 Peter 3:18.)
He sacrificed himself, and so made peace
between God and man (Colossians 1:21-22; 2 Corinthians 5:18-21). Now there is a way for you and me to be made free from our bad "Karma" of sin.
But if Jesus only died, we could never be sure if he spoke the truth. So ...
10. He Rose From the Dead
Jesus did not stay dead. On the third day he became alive again. This is one of the best-testified events in history. As Paul explains:
"I passed on to you what I received,
which is of the greatest importance:
that Christ died for our sins, as written in the scriptures;
that he was buried and that he was raised to life three days later, as written in the Scriptures."
(1 Corinthians 15:3-4.)
The Jews were afraid that the disciples of Jesus may come to steal his body, and so they asked for a guard of Roman soldiers to prevent the body from being stolen. But in spite of this, Jesus rose from the dead. He was seen alive.
40 days he appeared to his followers. His grave was empty. And his disciples were changed from fearful men to powerful witnesses for Christ. So Jesus arose from the dead to fulfil the prophecies of the Old Testament:
"Jesus said to them: 'This is what is written:
the Messiah (= Christ) must suffer
and must rise from death three days later.'"
He also rose to prove that he is God:
"As to his divine holiness,
he was shown with great power to be the Son of God
by being raised from death."
By this fact, he proved that our debts before God were paid:
"But God has now brought you to life with Christ.
God forgave us all our sins;
he cancelled the unfavourable record of our debts
with its binding rules and did away with it completely
by nailing it to the cross."
(This refers to a custom of that time:
If you owed money to a creditor, and then paid your debt in full, the creditor would nail the cancelled account to the door of your home as proof that it had been paid in full.)
What wonderful news this is! Christ is not dead -- he lives today!
He lives to give us victory over sin (Hebrew 7:25).
He lives to help us in times of trouble!
He lives to prepare a place for us for all eternity!
Test Yourself No. 12
Answer the following questions and compare
your answers to the answers you will see when you click here: [answers]
1. Name three reasons why you believe that Jesus is God.
2. What was the main work Jesus came to do for you?
3. How did he do this?