Friday, 18 April 2014

Who is JESUS CHRIST really?

No other name is so well-known and at the same time so controversial as the name JESUS. Many people worship and love him, but others despise, hate or completely ignore him.

Today’s historians accept it as a proven fact that JESUS CHRIST really lived.  There is hardly any other person in the ancient world who has such a good historical record as this JESUS from the town of Nazareth. But who is JESUS CHRIST really?

There seem to be a thousand answers to this question. Some say he was a wise teacher, a revolutionary, a philosopher or simply a good person. Others consider him a deceiver or a lunatic. Muslims call him a great prophet and Christians believe that JESUS is the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. But which of these answers is actually true?

JESUS himself once asked the people who were with him, "But who do you say that I am?" (Gospel of Matthew 16:15) How would you answer JESUS’ question? Perhaps you have already made up your own opinion about JESUS. But when you talk about someone, it is only fair to also hear what that person has to say. What then does JESUS say about himself?

What does JESUS CHRIST say about himself?

JESUS CHRIST lived about 2,000 years ago in Israel. Some people who witnessed JESUS at that time were careful to keep a record of his words and deeds for future generations. These writings can be found in the most famous book in the world, the Bible. It is here that we find what JESUS said about himself:

I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (Gospel of John 14:6)

Here JESUS claims to be the only connection to God the Father and therefore the only true way to a relationship with God. This fellowship with God is the meaning of true life.

I am the door. If anyone enters by me, he will be saved. (Gospel of John 10:9)

With these words, JESUS claims to be the only entry-way to salvation.

I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life. (Gospel of John 8:12)

JESUS promises to give life-saving orientation to all who follow him. Those who stand by JESUS are therefore brought out of all the lostness, fear and darkness of human existence and find a life full of security and hope in him.

I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep
. (Gospel of John 10:11)

Here JESUS compares himself with a shepherd and those who believe in him with a flock of sheep. A shepherd guides, protects and provides for his sheep. As a good shepherd, JESUS even dies for his sheep.

I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst. (Gospel of John 6:35)

Food and drink are vital for every human being. JESUS claims to be everything that a man depends on for life. This includes the human hunger for love, acceptance, joy, justice and peace. JESUS promises to satisfy this and much more forever in fellowship with him.

I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live. (Gospel of John 11:25)

Here JESUS assures us that everyone who completely trusts in him is not destined to die. If JESUS himself is the source of life, this means that those who live in fellowship with him have a new life – now and for all eternity.

What kind of person is this who so confidently claims such extraordinary things about himself? While on earth, JESUS CHRIST was severely criticised and even attacked for making such statements. His enemies contradicted him by saying that no man on earth has the right to think – let alone speak – about himself in this way. Are you of the same opinion?

Even though JESUS was treated with such great hostility, he unwaveringly stood by his statements and also announced that he was commissioned and sent by God from heaven (Gospel of John 8:42). But why should God send someone to earth? JESUS himself also gives an answer to this question.

Why did JESUS CHRIST come?

JESUS says, I have come ...

... to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice. (Gospel of John 18:37)

... to seek and to save the lost. (Gospel of Luke 19:10)

... not to be served but to serve, and to give [my] life as a ransom for many. (Gospel of Mark 10:45)

... into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. (Gospel of John 12:46)

... that they may have life and have it abundantly. (Gospel of John 10:10)

It is striking that the motives for JESUS’ coming are connected to fearful things such as darkness, lostness, death, sin and judgement. What makes this frightening is that JESUS uses these serious words to describe the sad condition of human beings.

What went wrong?

You surely know the unpleasant feeling of having left a trusted partner such as your spouse, friend or neighbour in an argument. What a joy it is to be reconciled again! Every person has serious relationship problems and this is precisely what JESUS drew attention to.

But the relationship problems to which JESUS refers are much more dramatic than an interpersonal conflict. Again and again, he draws attention to mankind’s greatest problem: We live separated from God, the Father, the creator of all life. God created human beings as persons so that they can live in close fellowship with him.

The first human beings spoke with God and ordered their lives according to his purposes. In doing so, they found that God gave them complete joy and true fulfilment in life. This changed, however, on the day they thought they did not need God anymore. They believed the lie that they could also find a fulfilled life apart from God by having their own say over their lives. So they turned their backs on God and deliberately rebelled against him (see Genesis 2-3).

Have you ever asked yourself what gives or what should give fulfilment to your life? Inside every person there is a longing for personal fulfilment in life. Until this day, most people seek this fulfilment everywhere except in God. By neglecting God, man misses his true happiness in life and offends God who is the source of true joy. With such an attitude, man becomes hostile to God – whether he intends to or not. Such a lifestyle of ignoring God and his purposes is described in the Bible as sin.

od is completely good and righteous; therefore he detests evil such as murder, adultery, unkindness, gossip, envy, falsehood, theft, greed, quarrels, meanness, shamelessness, treachery, dissipation, injustice, schemes, violence, pride, boasting, disobedience, disloyalty, mercilessness, egotism, love of money, ingratitude, unforgiveness, obscenity, deceit, cruelty …

Everyone who honestly considers this will have to admit that human beings do precisely those things which God detests. And this is the great problem: man is not good because his life contradicts what God has declared good and righteous. Since God is holy and takes responsibility for all life, he cannot accept this behaviour, as it mocks him and harms mankind. Therefore God is justifiably angry with all men. In the Bible, God unequivocally says that every person must give an account before him after this life. On a determined day, God will judge and punish men for all their sins.

Is there a way to end hostility with God and avoid the eternal judgement of God’s wrath? Yes, thank God, there is! To be precise, this is the good news of JESUS CHRIST, the reconciler of the world. Especially when you understand what your condition before God is, you will also see who JESUS CHRIST really is.

JESUS CHRIST, the reconciler!

When JESUS asked his followers who they considered him to be, a man named Simon gave the only right answer.

"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. (Gospel of Matthew 16:16-17)

Without exaggerating, JESUS was able to call himself the source of life, the only way of salvation and the truth in person because he is none other than the Son of God who came down from heaven to give his life as a sacrifice. Many people know that JESUS CHRIST was killed by being nailed to a cross, but only few people know the true reason for his death. God the Father sent his Son JESUS CHRIST with a very specific purpose into the world: he was to become a man and pay with his life for the guilt of many sinners. Completely voluntarily, JESUS suffered what we as human beings have deserved – God’s righteous judgement for sin. The Bible says,

... he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

We as humans have turned our backs on God, but JESUS’ back was whipped. We had the bad thoughts, but JESUS’ head was wounded with thorns. We acted against God and our fellow humans, but JESUS’ hands were pierced. We went our own wrong ways away from God, but JESUS’ feet were nailed to the cross. We deserved to die, but JESUS died in our place. Instead of punishing us, God opened the way to reconcile us to himself by sacrificing his own Son to die.

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (Gospel of John 3:16)

Through his sacrifice on the cross JESUS CHRIST has become the reconciler. He alone mediates between guilty men and the righteous God. By paying with his life for the sins of men, JESUS leads men back into a relationship with God.

Be reconciled to God!

God the Father confirmed that he had accepted the sacrifice of his Son by raising him from the dead three days later. JESUS CHRIST lives and has the power to forgive sins and give eternal life. Those who completely trust in JESUS CHRIST to be saved from guilt, death and judgement, and entrust themselves with their whole life to this reconciler, have peace with God and eternal life in close communion with him. This message of reconciliation – which is also called the gospel – is addressed to all people. But only those who believe in JESUS CHRIST are also reconciled to God. Those who think lightly of this great love of God and despise and reject JESUS CHRIST’s sacrifice of reconciliation have no other hope. God’s wrath and his eternal judgement remain for those who do not want to be reconciled to him.

Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (Gospel of John 3:36)

Dear reader,
Thank you very much for reading this far. Do not wait any longer, but come with your entire burden to JESUS CHRIST, who can give you forgiveness and true peace with God. JESUS says,

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. (Gospel of Matthew 11:28)

Whoever comes to me I will never cast out. (Gospel of John 6:37)

Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. (Gospel of John 5:24)

Come and confess your sins in prayer to JESUS CHRIST and ask him to save you and reconcile you to God.

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:20)

(This text was originally written in German by some friends of mine for the website www.jesuschristus.dean independent and interdenominational ministry for proclaiming the good news. I was very pleased to translate this text into English for them.)


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