In this series of posts, Guy attempts to remove confusion about who & what a Christian Man is. In average man (not theologian) speak, Guy looks at who Jesus Christ claimed himself to be, and asks the same question Jesus asked of his disciples 2000 years ago...
In this series of posts, I want to attempt to remove confusion about who & what a Christian Man is. There are many ‘gospels’, many religious beliefs and there are many sideline beliefs that can confuse even someone who has been around a while. Yet there is only one real gospel. So in this series I will do my best as a fairly average Christian man (I am not a theologian!) to speak to this in as simple terms as I can.
In the first post, we are going to look at the term Christian, and specifically who a Christian follows.
‘Christian’ is a word that is used very loosely now days. Anyone might call themselves a Christian, but who and what is one really? The term should be used describe one type of person – a person who is a Christ-follower. Someone who is following one man above all others – Jesus Christ. In this first post, we will start there. Who is this Jesus Christ that Christians follow?
Who is Jesus Christ?
I am never going to be able to do this topic justice, so please don’t expect me to. In fact, the Apostle John said that the whole world itself could not contain the books that should be written about Jesus. (from John 21:25). However, I do want to highlight just a few things:
a. Christ is a Title, not a surname
Jesus Christ is really short for Jesus the Christ, or Christ Jesus.
The term Christ is a title .. much like Sir, or His Majesty are titles. It comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed of God”, or Messiah (Jewish equivalent).
b. Jesus made claims about himself – directly and implied by what he did and said he would do
One of the Bibles most well known writers, Paul, in one of his letters stated of Jesus that “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God”. (Philippians 2:6, KJV). That is a big call, for a Jewish scholar to make. It is also a big part of what makes Christianity very different to other beliefs. Many religions see Jesus as a “good man” or a “prophet”, but none but Christianity see Jesus the way Paul describes him here – Jesus as God in human form.
But what did Jesus say about who he was? As this is a very big topic, I am going to limit it to look at just a few things that Jesus implied about himself by what he said he would do.
Here are 10 claims Jesus made of himself that can only be claims of having the same authority and power as God himself. To be God in human flesh:
1. Jesus claimed to have authority to forgive sins regardless of who they were against – authority that belongs only to God
- Matthew 9:2-8, Mark 2:2-12
We can forgive those who have wronged us, but it is not our place to forgive people who have wronged another. Forgiveness of everyone’s sin is something only God himself has the authority to do.
2. Jesus implied by what he promised that he was omnipresent (ability to be more than one place at once), omnipotent (having unlimited power) and omniscient (eternally existing/outside of time)
- Matthew 18:19-20, John 5:26
To be ever existing, to have unlimited power, and to have the ability to be at more than one place at once – are qualities that we associate with God alone.
3. Jesus demanded love, devotion and loyalty that were commanded (under the Jewish law within which he lived) to be reserved for God alone
- Matthew 10:32-33
We we read the bible, the teaches of the law didn’t want to kill Jesus for the things he did, but for the things Jesus said. They knew full-well what he was implying; that Jesus was demanding worship that could only be reserved for God.
4. Jesus made claims he could fulfill only if he was God
- Matthew 11:27-30
Jesus claimed to be one with God, to be the gateway or door to God, to be able to bring peace and “rest unto your souls” to those who follow him that only God can bring.
5. Jesus made claims about his power and rule in the future
- Mathew 19:28-29, 13:40-43, 24:30-31
Jesus said he would be on the throne, that he had the power to give eternal life, to reward whom he chooses. That he would ascend to heaven and them come back again with “power and great glory” having command over the angels to send them to gather the inhabitants of earth and then to judge. Lawmaker, commander of the angelic “police”, judge, jury and executioner.
6. Jesus claimed to be the Messiah (anointed of God)
- John 4:25
Jesus confirmed to the woman getting water at the well that He is the Messiah.
7. Jesus claimed he would die and resurrect himself from the dead
- John 2:18-22, John 10:17-18
Jesus said he had the power to give up his own life then to rise from the dead. Effectively that he had the power to bring life to non-life. Even himself. Only God is known to breath life into that which has none.
8. Jesus claimed not to just be the Son of God, but to be God
- John 10:24-39, John 8:56-59
Before the teachers of the law – the religious elite at the time – he left them in no doubt that Jesus believed himself to be God. That is why, in verse 31 of John 10 they took up stones to stone him. Stoning was the Jewish punishment for blasphemy.
9. Jesus claimed that He himself would one day call the dead back to life
- John 5:25, John 14:19
Jesus said he had life in himself – to be self existing – just as God is. Needing no other to start his life, sustain it or to end it. Jesus had this power as only God has. And he had the power to give life to others also.
10. Jesus said he would prepare a place for those who follow him
- John 14:2-3
Jesus implied he had “the run of the house” to use a modern phrase. But not just any house – all of Heaven. And, he is busy preparing a place for all of his true followers, AND he will be coming back to get them and take them to him at an appointed time that only he knows.
When we look at the verses casually, we can easily overlook the full implications. But when we read them while thinking about what power Jesus must have in order to fulfill them, we begin to understand how incredible his promises really are.
c. Jesus was also fully man
Jesus was God and came to mankind as a baby at about 3 B.C. We was spirit, who also became a man through the womb of a virgin, Mary. Jesus, from that time forth is fully God and fully man at the same time and remains that way today (albeit in a new “glorified” body). The event of Jesus coming as a baby is what we celebrate at Christmas (even though it is probably the opposite time of the year to when the event happened). We celebrate this event because it is the amazing time when God came to mankind – encapsulated in one of the names of Jesus – Immanuel (or Emmanuel), which means God with us (Matthew 1:23). Why God did this we will get to a bit later…
The human lineage of Jesus is given in scripture. Starting in Mathew 1:17 Jesus’ lineage is given from his legal father (but not biological father since Mary was a virgin) Joseph’s side back to Israel’s greatest king, King David and then to Abraham. In Luke 3:23, Jesus’ lineage is given through his mother Mary back to King David, then to Abraham and back to the first man, Adam. Perhaps a way to express it is that Jesus is human on his mothers side (and heir to the throne of Israel through King David’s son Nathan) but deity on his father’s side, since He was fathered by God himself. He was and still is fully man.
c. Jesus was always God’s plan from the beginning
Sending Jesus to mankind was not a spur of the moment idea on God’s part. It wasn’t even the result of a strategic planning session after Adam ate the forbidden fruit (see Genesis 2). Jesus was God’s plan long before mankind was created. The old testament scriptures are full of God’s plan (not so obvious to ancient Israel) but it is a plan that is so much easier for us to see now after Jesus came as he was promised. Check out Isaiah 53 for example, which was a difficult scripture for ancient Israel to understand, but fits so clearly with the life of Jesus that we now know. I’m jumping ahead …. a plan for what?
1.a plan to save mankind
2. a plan to demonstrate the nature and person of God
3. a plan to judge man and Angels
4. a plan to destroy the perpetrators of evil once and for all
5. a plan to restore God’s perfection upon creation
6. a plan to rule the entire universe
The details of which we will get into in other posts.
d. Who do you say Jesus is?
Jesus did extraordinary things and made incredible claims about himself. It is not reasonable to deny Jesus ever existed and it is not within scope to argue why – even most secular historians agree Jesus was a real man – but the question is who and what was he?
Given the things Jesus said, we can only really reach one of three conclusions about him. Either he was a raving loony, or the most convincing liar even born, …. or exactly who he says he is.
In the next post we will look at “what it takes” to be called a follower of Jesus (a Christian), but for now we should understand that a person might call themselves a Christian, but that doesn’t mean that they are counted by Jesus as being one of his followers. There are many “false Christians” around who don’t really believe and follow Jesus. A man once quoted, “You live what you really believe, everything else is just religion”. If ones actions are generally not consistent with what Jesus taught, then some questions need to be asked as to whether the stated belief and following of Jesus is genuine.
But the question you and I need to answer today is the same one Jesus asked his disciples in the gospel of Mark 8:27
Jesus and his disciples went on to the villages around Caesarea Philippi. On the way he asked them, “Who do people say I am?”
They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, one of the prophets.”
“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”
Peter answered, “You are the Messiah.”
Question: Who do YOU say Jesus is?
leave a comment and tell us.