Who Was Jesus?

Jesus is the focal point of heaven and earth. He is the One whom the angels adore; they fall down before Him, and thousands upon thousands stand ready to serve Him. Heaven resounds with His praises, and throughout eternity, the redeemed sing the song of the Lamb. From east and west, from far and near, innumerable multitudes, for whom Jesus has become the center and essence of life, will come and praise Him.

Jesus has the greatest power on earth, and, at the same time, endures the greatest scorn, derision, and shame. Even today, many scorn Him and want nothing to do with this “Jesus of Nazareth.” Jesus is most important and beloved on the one hand, and also most despised and ridiculed on the other. Nevertheless, He stands above all, untouched by the wildest waves around Him. To His followers, He remains a solid rock, an everlasting foundation. All knees in heaven and on earth will bow before Him one day.

Who was Jesus? Every Christian knows the importance of this vital question. Jesus is the Author of our salvation, the central figure in God’s plan of salvation. Salvation is only possible through the Person of Jesus Christ. This is the essence of Christianity. This makes Christianity different and distinct from all other religions. The character of any other religion is dependent on the teaching of its founder, not on the character of that founder, or upon who the founder was. But who was Jesus?  It is not foremost His teaching but who He is that defines Christianity. The answer to this question is the essence of Christianity. Who was He?

He was truly human.

The disciples and the people living at the time knew Jesus as a man, fully human. He was born of the virgin Mary, a descendant of King David. He had all the needs and characteristics common to all other human beings. He grew tired, was hungry and thirsty, experienced joy and sadness, and shed tears. He loved His disciples and enjoyed spending time with them. At the end of His life, He died and was laid in a tomb. He not only possessed a human body but also a human spirit. We know this because the devil tempted Him, trying to awaken pride in Him. Though He was truly human, He was without sin.

He was truly God.

Besides having a human nature, Jesus also had the nature of God. He is the true God. The divine characteristics of Jesus are clearly shown in the Bible. He is the eternal Word through which all things were created (Colossians 1:16-17). The creation of the visible and invisible world is so indescribably awesome precisely because it is the work of an eternal, uncreated being.

The creation being ascribed to Jesus verifies His deity. We see in Him the unlimited power and eternal characteristics of God. As Creator, there is nothing in heaven or earth that existed before Him, thus He must be God, Who created all things for Himself.

All creation is time-oriented. Yet that which was before creation is not part of what was created. What existed before creation is the eternal, uncreated God. The text in Hebrews 1:8-10 confirms that Jesus is the one true God, yet He is not the Father. How this is possible can only be explained by the doctrine of the Trinity.

Jesus Himself said: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58). Those who deny the deity of Christ and believe in the pre-existence of all souls try to interpret these words to mean: “Before Abraham was, I existed.” But that is not what Jesus said, for He said: “I AM.” Jesus is eternal.

Furthermore, the judgment of the world has been given to Him (2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 25:31-46, John 5:22). Such judgment is only possible if the judge has full knowledge of the human heart and its moral responsibility. Only God is the ultimate Judge, and because this function has been given to Jesus, He must be God.

Another one of His godly characteristics is His power to do miracles. Through them, He proved His deity while He was on earth. He is also all-knowing. His disciples knew this and testified about it (John 16:30, John 21:17). Jesus also demonstrated His divinity by forgiving sins, something that only God can do (Luke 5:20-24). The Bible condemns worshiping anything besides God. That is idolatry. Yet Jesus was worshiped, and He accepted worship because He is God. His disciples worshiped Him because they realized He was divine (Matthew 14:33, John 9:38). These biblical texts are sufficient to prove the deity of Christ.

When Jesus talks about Himself, He never speaks of Himself as two but only as one Person. The unification of the two natures of Christ was necessary for Him to be the Author of our salvation. Otherwise, He would only have lived and died as a mere human. He would have died as a martyr only. He could not have been the sacrificial Lamb that carried the sins of the world. As a human, He could reveal the great rift that had been established between God and humankind. And as God, He could fulfill the plan of salvation. He was the holy Lamb of God “who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without spot to God” in order to obtain an “eternal redemption” (Hebrews 9:12-14).

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