Jesus can be a controversial figure for some people. For centuries the outside world has viewed him as little more than a nice person who taught people how to live, or worse, a complete lunatic who led people into his crazy way of life. As Christians, we see him much differently. We have been redeemed by him, loved by him, and bought with his precious blood. But often we fall into similar patterns of thought regarding Jesus. We believe that he is more than a mere man, but we treat him as little more than an example for us to follow as we live our daily lives. While he is most certainly the one who obeyed perfectly and modeled for us, he is so much more than that. And as we read the Gospels the question that most frequently arises is “who is this Jesus?” not “how can I follow his example?” Because in reality a close reading of the Gospel accounts shows us that no amount of our own attempts to be like him will produce results in our lives. Why? He is God, and we are not.
I have been reading through the Gospels for the last couple
of months, and our church is going through the Gospel of Mark on Sunday
mornings, so these thoughts and ideas have been swirling through my mind a lot
lately. In the next few posts I hope to get some of those ideas on paper (or
Internet paper, so to speak). I want to get away from simply viewing Jesus as a
good example for me to follow, and I hope you do to. Even though theologically
we hold to right thoughts about him, we often functionally treat him as little
more than this good teacher with some good ideas for happy living. So before we
begin looking at all of the characteristics that describe Jesus, we must begin
with his identity.
If the overarching question in the Gospels is “who is this
Jesus?” then the consistent question that must first be answered is: “who is he
at the core of his being?” Where does his identity come from? What enables him
to do all of the miracles, signs, and wonders? How does he know the thoughts
and actions of people before they even do them? How does he refrain from sin? Before
we begin applying the actions of Jesus to our lives we must first stop and
worship at the feet of who he is. He is God. Everything he does flows out of
this very truth. Jesus Christ is God made flesh (John 1:1-3; Colossians
1:15-20). He has always existed (John 9:58). He created the world by the word
of his power. He is one with the Father (John 10:28-30; John 17:11). He is the
second person of the Trinity. The same Jesus who walked this earth and shows up
in the Gospels is the same Jesus who lives and reigns today at the Father’s
right hand. Jesus Christ is God.
And it’s not just the biblical writers who attest to his
deity. Jesus was pretty clear about it too (Luke 6:5; Luke 23:43; John 9:58; John
18:6—and countless other passages). In fact, it is one of the reasons he was
crucified. The Jewish authorities believed him to be blaspheming God by
claiming to be God. To them it was complete nonsense to declare himself to be
The fact that Jesus was (and is) God is further evidenced by
his sovereignty and knowledge even while he walked this earth. Every attempt to
overtake him was thwarted until the appointed time had come. And Jesus knew
when that would happen (Matthew 26:45-46; John 18:4). His complete power and
authority was shown even to the point where he drew his final breath (John
19:28-30), leading those who witnessed his crucifixion to declare that he was
the Son of God (Matthew 27:54). Jesus bore our sins completely and fully, and
gave himself over to death only when atonement was fully complete. He was
sovereign over it all.
So what does all of this mean for us? It means that we
worship and trust him as the perfect, holy, God made flesh. It means that no
attempt to “be like Jesus” will be sufficient on our own. You can’t just simply
follow him and do what he does—he is just too majestic and other than us. He
deserves much more than mere imitators.
He deserves our full, life-long devotion. He is worthy of it all. Jesus
Christ is God incarnate. He is perfect, holy, and good. And he is our Savior.
The Gospels should cause to ask repeatedly, “who is this
Jesus?” First and foremost he is God, and the manifestations of his deity, as
shown in the Gospels, are endless.