Jesus Christ – The Savior of Mankind
Jesus Christ is a Real Person
He appeared in the flesh to men many years ago, served God, and ministered to mankind, in the flesh, for 33 1/2 years. Then He went to the cross and suffered and died physically. He arose literally, physically and bodily, and allowed His disciples to touch Him and feel Him, to see that He was indeed the same Christ, physically, He was before His crucifixion and resurrection. He is God, but He is also man.
Romans Chapter 1 tells us Jesus is the Son of God according to the Spirit, but the son of David according to the flesh. Many passages in both the Old and New Testaments indicate that Jesus is a descendant of David and has the right to His father David’s throne. Thus, Jesus Christ, the God-man who came to earth to be our Savior, is a person just as much as David was a person; just as much as His mother, Mary was a person; and just as much as his half-brothers and sisters were persons.
Jesus, though God in the flesh, made Himself susceptible to the pull and tug of temptations. Hebrews 4:15 tells us that He was tempted in all points “like as we are, yet without sin.”
Jesus is a person. All of this does not mean that God is not a Spirit. It simply means that the Almighty, all-wise, most High God came down as a human being, a person in the flesh, to identify Himself with the human race, and to suffer and die for our sins.
Christ is God
Christ was not merely like God, he is God. (I John 1:1; Colossians 2:9). In His humanity, Christ did not cling to His prerogatives of His Divine majesty, and did not ambiguously display His equality with God. Christ waived His rights to:
- Express His Deity
- Display His Divine attributes
- Demonstrate His equality with God
Christ laid aside His Divine glory, but He did not and could not lay aside His Divine nature. He did lay aside the expression of Deity, but He did not and could not lay aside His possession of Deity. He did lay aside His rights as the Son and took His place as a servant. He put aside the insignia of Deity and put on the robes of His humanity. He divested himself of His prerogatives. He did not and could not cease to be God when He was made flesh (John 1:14). His Deity remained throughout the whole course of His self-imposed humiliation. He gave up something that was HIS. He restricted the outward manifestation of His Deity. He was like a king temporarily clothing Himself in the garb of a peasant while still remaining king, even though it was not apparent. He was the sinless Son of God, the God-Man, (LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Vol. 2, pp. 572, 573.)
Jesus Changed History
No other single individual has impacted the history of the world in general and western civilization in particular more than Jesus of Nazareth. This humble son of a carpenter lived most of His life in obscurity spending little more than three years in the public limelight as a popular teacher of religious truth. He was eventually executed to appease the religious leaders of His day who could not refute Him and would not endorse Him.
Yet His death marked the beginning of a new dimension of His influence rather than the end of His movement. In spite of incredible opposition directed at His movement throughout history, vast multitudes of people continue to follow Him today.
Jesus is Real in History
Here is what the Jewish historian Josephus wrote about Jesus, “Now, there as about this time Jesus, a wise man, if it be lawful to call him a man, for he was a doer of wonderful works; a teacher of such men as receive the truth with pleasure. He drew over to him both many of the Jews, and many of the Gentiles. He was [the] Christ; and when Pilate, at the suggestion of the principal men amongst us, had condemned him to the cross, those that loved him at the first did not forsake him; for he appeared to them alive again the third day, as the divine prophets had foretold these and ten thousand other wonderful things concerning him; and the tribe of Christians, so named from him, are not extinct at this day.”
More Than a Man
Obviously, Jesus of Nazareth was more than the son of a carpenter. The Bible teaches us that Jesus was in fact God incarnate in human form. He is the second person in the Trinity who came to live among us, die for us, and resurrect that someday we might be able to live with Him forever. In many respects, what we believe about Jesus impacts the very heart of our Christian life.
The life of Jesus Christ is the focus of all God has revealed about Jesus. In the Old Testament, the prophets described Christ in types and prophecies anticipating His coming. In the New Testament, the epistles describe the implications of His life in the context of the Christian life. During His life and ministry on earth, Jesus promised He would return a second time at the end of the age (see chapter eight). The fulfillment of prophecy associated with the first coming of Christ gives us reason for the hope in His return.
6 Aspects of His Life
Six significant aspects in Jesus Christ’s life and ministry illustrate something of His uniqueness. These aspects include:
- His present ministry
- His involvement in Christian life.
These six themes summarize what we believe about Jesus and mark his impact on humanity.
Is Jesus a King?
When God finally allowed Israel to have a king, the earthly sovereign was responsible to represent God. The king was the leader of the nation and filled the third “anointed” office. Christians were persecuted in the first century when they taught the kingship of Christ (Acts 17:7). They recognized that Jesus alone must be the single supreme Ruler in their lives. This idea was offensive to Rome, who believed their Caesar was both god and king.
Jesus is King
The kingship of Christ is seen in his deity. Because he is God, he is also king. In heaven “they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints” (Rev. 15:3). The Romans considered their Caesar to be a god. Christians, on the other hand, recognized Jesus alone to be their king.
Jesus Has a Kingdom
Every king has a domain over which he rules. Jesus is no exception. Jesus said “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18:36), but he never denied that he had a kingdom. It was the custom of the Romans to identify the crime of a condemned man on the cross upon which he died. Jesus was executed as “the King of the Jews” (John 19:19). His kingdom continues on earth today as his Word is preached (Acts 8:12; 14:22; Col. 1:13). When he returns to this earth, he will do so to establish his earthly kingdom. Revelation 20 describes his kingdom as a thousand-year reign of peace on the earth, often called the millennial kingdom.
Jesus has Subjects
Christ is now a ruler to those who submit their lives to him. Someday, “At the name of Jesus every knee [shall] bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth: And … every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Phil. 2:10, 11). Today, those who receive Christ as Lord and Savior recognize the kingship of Christ in their lives. Jesus told a parable equating the Christian with a servant. He concluded, “So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do” (Luke 17:10).
One of the unique differences between the Christians of the New Testament and those of today is their attitude toward their relation with Christ. They saw him as a supreme ruler and themselves as slaves in comparison. Perhaps if we had a similar biblical conviction today, we would see similar biblical results.
A second office appointed by God in the Old Testament was that of the priest, whose main function was to represent man before God. The job of Israel’s high priest was to appear before God to make intercession for the people. The priest was the one who offered the sacrifice upon the altar.
The priest did teach the people (Lev. 10:10, 11; Deut. 33:10; Mal. 2:6, 7), but that was not his main priority. Because God is a just but forgiving God, the priest could present his forgiveness to the people if they met God’s conditions. The priest was usually a channel of forgiveness while the prophet was usually a channel of judgment.
The people would have chosen to see a priest over a prophet any day.
Jesus is Our Great High Priest
The Bible teaches, “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Heb. 7:25). As our high priest, Jesus is constantly interceding for us.
He understands the problems we encounter in life, having experienced the same when he lived on earth. “For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities, but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).
- The priesthood of Christ is superior to that of Aaron in that it was after the order of Melchizedek (Heb. 5:10).
- The priesthood of Jesus is superior in that other priests have died., whereas Christ “ever liveth” (Heb. 7:25). His priesthood is more secure in that God swore with an oath concerning it (Heb. 7:21). The Old Testament priests could only offer typical offerings that pointed to a complete offering for sin yet future.
As Jesus hung on Calvary, he offered the actual sacrifice for sin. “We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10).
From time to time we hear of someone who leaves a superior opportunity or job for less pay and what appears to be a lesser job. Often we are left wondering why that person acted as he did. There may be many reasons involved in such a decision. When we consider the willingness of Jesus to empty himself and become a man, we are left wondering why. We will never completely understand all that was involved in the mind of God, but there are several reasons identified in Scripture.
Why Jesus Became Man
The Love of God for us was certainly one of the chief motivating factors in the kenosis. The love of God is the foundation for every aspect of the gospel. Before Jesus came, he knew he would be rejected and die for the sins of the world. He told his disciples, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). Paul observed, “But God commendeth [demonstrated] his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8). The apostle John reminds us, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another” (1 John 4:11).
To Reveal God
It seems ironic that Christ would have to empty himself of his original glory to reveal his glory, but that is apparently what happened. John twice recorded that Christ revealed the Father (John 1:14, 18; 14:7-11). If Jesus had not emptied himself, sinful man would not have been able to understand and witness that revelation. Jesus knew men could only understand so much. So God had to empty himself to become a man, so man might better understand God.
God reveals himself to us progressively. As we grow in our Christian lives, we grow in our understanding of the Bible and learn increasingly more about the God who loves us. Jesus recognized this principle when he emptied himself to reveal God.
Jesus emptied himself to provide for our salvation. It was through one man the world was lost, so through one man the world would be saved. Paul explained this relationship between Adam and Christ in Romans 5:12-21.
The term kenosis is a Greek word used in Philippians 2:7 to describe what happened when Christ became a man. The term is translated from “made himself of no reputation,” which appears in the King James Version of the Bible. It is translated “He emptied himself” in the New American Standard Version. One theologian described it, “He stripped himself of the insignia of mystery.”
Taking On the Form of a Servant
For Christ, who was God before time began, to take on “the form of a servant” was indeed a humiliating experience. For ages theologians have faced the dilemma of interpreting this one word, kenosis. They cannot deny that “Christ emptied” himself, but “What was poured out?” is the question. Can Christ give away part of his deity and remain God? Can God be less than God? The answer is found in a threefold explanation.
“Christ emptied himself” by
- Veiling his glory
- Accepting the limitations of being a human
- Voluntarily giving up the independent use of his relative attributes.
Jesus was still God
Some argue that Jesus was not God during his life on earth. In explaining the kenosis, they say Jesus gave up his attributes. But that would make him less than God. Others claim he gave up the right to be worshiped, by emptying himself of the expression of the attributes. A third argument by some is that Jesus gave up the divine self-consciousness, meaning he had the attributes of God but did not know it. A problem exists if we say that Jesus could have given up any attributes. If he had, he would have ceased to be God.
One of the chief themes of the Gospel of John was to illustrate the deity of Christ. “But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name” (John 20:31). John’s use of the term “Son of God” refers to deity. Jesus was “the only begotten Son of God,” which means he possessed the nature and character of his Father while on earth. He was God.