Who is Jesus Christ, and why is He so important to so many of us? Depending on your particular background and life exposure, different images may come to mind when you hear this name. You might think of a gentle teacher blessing children, a good shepherd surrounded by content sheep, or a sorrowful figure on a crucifix, for example. You may believe Him to be a first century religious leader who founded Christianity, or a wise man or a prophet. Yet while none of these images is necessarily wrong, neither do they hit the nail on the head, because Jesus was–and is–so much more!
“In the beginning there was the Word. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made by him, and nothing was made without him…The Word became a human and lived among us. We saw his glory—the glory that belongs to the only Son of the Father—and he was full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-3, 14 NCV)
Jesus is God; the Bible clearly says so, in multiple places. In today’s passage we learn several things about Jesus, whom John calls the Word:
He existed in the beginning. He was with God. He was God. He was with God in the beginning. All things were made by Him. Nothing was made without Him. He became a human being.
Notice that this passage alone excludes the conjecture that Jesus was merely a prophet or teacher, or simply the human being who founded Christianity. Of course He prophesied about what was yet to come, and certainly He taught the people. And while it is true that what we call Christianity spread like wildfire throughout the world after His resurrection, He did not come to establish a new religion, but to fulfill the prophecies about Him in Judaism and pay the penalty for the sins of mankind by His innocent death:
“Don’t think that I have come to destroy the law of Moses or the teaching of the prophets. I have not come to destroy them but to bring about what they said. I tell you the truth, nothing will disappear from the law until heaven and earth are gone. Not even the smallest letter or the smallest part of a letter will be lost until everything has happened.” (Matthew 5:17-18)
Some have contended that Jesus Himself never claimed to be God, but that is also patently incorrect, as the following conversation between Him and Jewish religious leaders indicates:
“Jesus answered, “If I honor Myself, My honor is nothing. It is My Father who honors Me, of whom you say that He is your God. Yet you have not known Him, but I know Him. And if I say, ‘I do not know Him,’ I shall be a liar like you; but I do know Him and keep His word. Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to Him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.” Then they took up stones to throw at Him; but Jesus hid Himself and went out of the temple, going through the midst of them, and so passed by.” (John 8:54-59 )
Jesus clearly identified Himself as God–by the name God identified Himself by in the Old Testament, I AM–and the subsequent attempt of the religious leaders to stone Him for claiming divinity clearly proves that they understood exactly what He was claiming. But why is Jesus so important?
Jesus is so important–so precious to millions of people–because He is God, “the Lord ‘who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.'” (Revelation 1:8) At the same time, He is the One who “became a human being and lived among us” and “…was tempted in every way that we are, but He did not sin,” (Hebrews 4:15c NCV) so that He “…is able to understand our weaknesses.” (Hebrews 4:15b NCV) Most importantly, it is because of Him that we can “…feel very sure that we can come before God’s throne where there is grace. There we can receive mercy and grace to help us when we need it.” (Hebrews 4:16 NCV) “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Ephesians 1:7)
So, who is Jesus? He is the Creator, Redeemer God, the Son of the only true God, who loved us so much that He became a human being and suffered and died to bring us back to Himself–the ultimate Good Shepherd. And why do we love Him? “We love Him because He first loved us.” (I John 4:19)
Thank You that we have You, our “great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God.” Help “us hold firmly to the faith we profess.” Help us “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”(Hebrews 4:14-16 NIV) Amen!