Nobody is more central to Christianity than Jesus. But who is He really?
We can ask, "Who was Jesus?" Our sources for Jesus' life are primarily the gospels.in the New Testament. He lived and worked in Galilee, and was crucified in Jerusalem at the time of the Passover in approx. 30 A.D. Different sources tell us that the cross contained an inscription: "Jesus Nazarenus Rex Iudaeorum" ("Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews").
The Messiah, the Savior, God's Son and the Word are some of the descriptions that have been used for Jesus. He often called Himself the Son of Man. In the Old Testament we can read prophecies about Jesus. The prophet Isaiah speaks about Him as "Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace". The different names can help us understand who Jesus is, not only who He was.
Many of Jesus' contemporaries hoped that He would be the One who would free Israel from Roman rule, and they were disappointed when this didn't happen. But Jesus is One who can set us free! In the gospel of John, chapter 8, Jesus says, "If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed". We as people would like to think of ourselves as good, and want to do what is good. Then we experience that we still do what is evil and what can harm others. The Bible describes this as being a slave of sin, and this happens because we have a human nature in which there is nothing good. If we believe in Jesus, we receive help so we can be set free from the power of sin in us, and we can start serving God. The apostle Paul writes very clearly about this in his letter to the Romans, chapter 7.
True God and true man
Many people deny the divinity of Jesus. They will argue that He was nothing more than a human being among other people, albeit one that we can look to as the ideal example.
We believe that when Jesus was in heaven, He was true God. When Jesus was here on earth, He was true man. He was born into the world, at a set time, as a human being with the same nature as we have.
In the Koran, Jesus is mentioned as a great prophet who performed miracles and had a gospel for the people. Among Christians, the belief in Jesus as the Son of God is central. However, perceptions vary when it concerns Jesus as both God and man. Many people also regard Jesus as divine in the years that He lived among the people, and therefore had no battle against the sin that is found in human nature. However, we believe that when Jesus was in heaven, He was true God. When Jesus was here on earth, He was true man. He was born into the world, at a set time, as a human being with the same nature as we have. He had the Holy Spirit dwelling within. He was reminded by the Spirit, and was obedient to the Spirit's guidance. His work on earth was to defeat all the sin found in His human nature. When this was completed, He returned to God. The evangelist John writes in chapter 14 of his gospel about how Jesus promised the disciples that they would receive the Holy Spirit, so they could also receive strength and help to keep His commandments.
The author of salvation
What God wanted to do through Jesus Christ, was to complete His plan of salvation so that we people can share God's eternal kingdom, and have the right to live as His children. Paul explains this in the beginning of his letter to the Ephesians. Jesus experienced what it means to have human nature. It was as a human being that He attained perfection. In the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 5, it's written, "[Jesus], who in the days of His flesh, when He had offered up prayers and supplications, with vehement cries and tears to Him who was able to save Him from death, and was heard because of His godly fear, though He was a Son, yet He learned obedience by the things which He suffered. And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him."
Jesus is more than an example; He is our Savior.
In His lifetime here on earth, Jesus was a human being just like us. That's why we believe that He was also tempted to such things as bitterness and accusation, backbiting, envy and pride. But He didn't let these things enter His mind. He was in distress and cried out to God for help. Jesus' prayers were heard and He overcame those effects of human nature that He knew were sin. He never gave in to the desire, or lust, to do wrong. Perhaps Jesus saw a cross before Him when He was tempted. In His mind He took those inclinations to commit sin that He felt, and nailed them firmly to the cross. In this struggle against sin He resisted to such a degree that it figuratively speaking cost Him His blood. Because not giving in to sin caused suffering. But Jesus endured until the very temptation to commit sin was dead. By the Holy Spirit He received strength to overcome in temptation. Jesus has said to everyone who wants to follow Him, that he must "deny himself, and take up his cross daily". Who is Jesus? He is the One who teaches us to deny ourself and take up our cross. He is our forerunner, and we can be His followers.
Jesus was nailed to a real cross at a place called Calvary. Then it was no longer figuratively speaking that it cost Him His blood. He died there.
Jesus is our Helper in all situations when we from the heart pray for strength not to give in to or sin.
In the gospel according to John it is written that in His last hours, Jesus knew that the work was finished. He had accomplished the work that God had sent Him to do; He had done God's will. There was no sin in Jesus. He was blameless. Therefore God could raise Him up from the dead. Who is Jesus? "He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world," writes John in his first letter. Jesus is the Reconciler. He is our Advocate, One who speaks for us. If we have committed sin, but acknowledge it and ask for forgiveness, God will forgive us for Jesus' sake.
Jesus is our Helper in all situations when we from the heart pray for strength not to give in to temptations or sin. Then we will "obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need," that is, so we don't sin. We can read about this in the letter to the Hebrews, chapter 4. Jesus received the power of resurrection when He conquered death, and we can receive help by this same power. This is "grace to help in time of need".
Jesus is the starting point so we can get a life in goodness and love, and a life in which we have peace with one another. But how can we get such a taste of heaven here on earth? How can we get to heaven and partake of God's eternal kingdom?
Jesus is the way
We must know the way, and we must have an access card. God more than willingly gives us this access card to heaven. It has some words printed on it: "Valid for all who obey Jesus!" How can we find this way? If we read in the gospel according to John, chapter 14, we find the answer. Jesus comes to meet us and says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father [God] except through Me".
There is good reason to get to know Jesus better!
When we get to know Jesus, we start to sense that we need to bring our life into the light. You can read more about this in the article "Conversion".