Who is Jesus Christ? What has He done for us? What does He continue to do for us? And why is this so incredibly important?
“Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins…When you lift up [crucify] the Son of Man, then you will know that I am He, and I do nothing on My own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught Me…Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was born, I am.” (JOHN 8:24, 28, 58 NASB)
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word became flesh [a human being], and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (JOHN 1:1, 14 NASB)
We live in an interesting time. Visual entertainment technology is so advanced that we regularly see superheroes, extraterrestrials, and other characters with powers humans do not possess, doing things humans cannot do. We see them appearing and reappearing; disintegrating into mist or dust; reanimating back to life; levitating; zapping and being zapped with various powers and other magical fictional effects. So it is understandable that when we read the Biblical accounts of the genuinely supernatural miracles Jesus Christ did to evidence His identity as God, our sensibility towards that which just doesn’t happen in the existence we inhabit has been desensitized, and we conclude it’s just one more piece of fiction.
What we need to do is pull ourselves out of our video games, movies and shows long enough to contemplate what does happen in real life–and what doesn’t–and recognize that apart from the fictionalized depictions we observe on screen, I have never seen a dead person stop being dead. I have yet to attend a funeral at which the body in the casket gets up and goes back to living. I have yet to see the person standing next to me tell a crippled man, “Get up!” and see his shriveled legs fill with the muscle strength required for him to stand up and walk like you and I do. I have yet to be in a boat in the middle of Lake Michigan in a storm, have someone tell the elements, “Stop!” and immediately find myself on the shore and the storm over. It does not happen. Not a little; not ever!
What does happen is much more basic and simple, and it is what has been true for millennia–crippled people don’t start walking because they’re told to, the blind don’t see because they get clay rubbed on their eyes, the dead stay dead.
So who is Jesus? What has He done? What does He continue to do? Why is it important?
Jesus Christ is God. The Bible calls Him the Son of God, but that’s tricky these days because we’re so used to referring to ourselves as children of God. Jesus isn’t a child of God; He is the second person of the Trinity who was born a human being to die in our place. That’s why we recognize He insisted, “Before Abraham was born, I am.” Abraham lived thousands of years earlier; I AM is how God identified Himself in the Old Testament–it is His name. Jesus was telling who He is. In case we missed it, John spells it out: “…the Word was with God…the Word was God…the Word became flesh…” Jesus isn’t a great teacher or the leader of a religious movement; He is God.
What has He done for us? He opened up heaven for us–access to God; forgiveness, acceptance; eternal life. He did this by doing away with the power of sin and paying its penalty on our behalf through His death. It wasn’t a random occurrence that He found Himself a human being; it wasn’t unfortunate that He died. It was intentional: He entered our world with a goal–the mission of dying on our behalf.
What does He continue to do for us? A lot. He forgives and accepts us when we admit we’ve sinned and turn away from our wrongdoing. He gives us a new birth in our spirit, causing us to care about the things God cares about and want to do good. He imbues us with His Spirit and empowers us to do the things He wants us to. There’s a joke going around that whatever the question, the answer is “Jesus.” It’s meant to be facetious, but Jesus really is the answer to every question and the solution to every problem, because He is the only answer that satisfies and the only solution that is effective for the only thing that matters–our response to God.
And even if our response is a non-response, He is the same–He doesn’t change. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8 NKJV) Paul affirms a statement of faith of the early church:
“It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him [if we reject our sin nature and trust Him], we will also live with Him; If we endure, we will also reign with Him; If we deny Him, He also will deny us; If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.” (2 TIMOTHY 2:11-13 NASB)
Lastly, why is this important? How does it affect me? Why should I bother with this? Why pull myself away from school and work and fun to make a decision?
Why? Because life is short, and accountability for our response to Him certain. He has done His part, and more–He did what needed doing and made sure we know about it. The rest–how we respond, what we do with it–is up to us, and it makes a massive difference now, and for eternity.
Thank You that You’re the answer. Help me see that You are, and respond to You! Amen.