Category Archives: Jesus Christ Questions

Questions about Jesus Christ: If Jesus Is Our Atonement, Why Did He Die at Passover instead of the Day of Atonement?

 

Every one of the Old Testament sacrifices typified Christ. The Passover, or paschal, sacrifice was a type of the Lord Jesus Christ as the Lamb of God. The paschal lamb was to be a male, without spot and blemish, and not a bone was to be broken. Jesus fulfilled this picture perfectly. As the Israelites applied the blood of the sacrifice in faith, so we today apply the spotless blood of Christ to the “doorposts” of our hearts. In all these ways, “Christ our Passover has been sacrificed for us” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

An objection sometimes arises that the paschal sacrifice was not considered an atonement; rather, atonement was provided for the Jews via the sacrifices on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). Ergo, Jesus, who was killed at Passover and who is called “our Passover” in the New Testament, could not have been an atonement for sin.

There are two ways to counter this objection. The first is simply to show how Jesus also fulfilled the symbolism of Yom Kippur. Jesus bore our sins in His own body (1 Peter 2:24) and tasted death for every man (Hebrews 2:9). In doing so, He offered a better sacrifice than those of Yom Kippur—better because Christ’s sacrifice was permanent, was voluntary, and did not just cover sin but removed it altogether (Hebrews 9:8–14).

The second counter is to point out that Jewish tradition did indeed view the Passover sacrifice as being expiatory; that is, the lamb removed sin from God’s view. The Passover lamb died under God’s outpoured wrath, thus covering over the sins of the one offering it. Here’s what Rashi, a well-respected medieval Jewish commentator, has to say: “I see the Paschal blood and propitiate you.… I mercifully take pity on you by means of the Paschal blood and the blood of circumcision, and I propitiate your souls” (Ex. R. 15, 35b, 35a).

During the tenth and final plague in Egypt, the Passover sacrifice literally saved individuals from death (Exodus 12:23). On the basis of the redemptive offering of the Passover blood, the firstborn lived. Again, Rashi comments: “It is as if a king said to his sons: ‘Know you that I judge persons on capital charges and condemn them. Give me therefore a present, so that in case you are brought before my judgment seat I may set aside the indictments against you.’ So God said to Israel: ‘I am now concerned with death penalties, but I will tell you how I will have pity on you and for the sake of the Passover blood and the circumcision blood I will atone for you’ ” (Ex. R. 15.12, on Exodus 12:10).

The Passover lambs brought atonement to the believing Jewish households on that signal night of judgment and redemption. Rabbi Abraham ibn Ezra also links the Passover with atonement: “The mark of blood was designed as an atonement for those within the house who partook of the paschal offering, and was also a sign for the destroying angel to pass by the house” (Soncino Chumash, pg. 388).

When John the Baptist saw Christ, he pointed to Him and said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29). Jesus is the “Passover lamb” in that He was silent before His accusers (Isaiah 53:7) and in His death bore the wrath of God, preserved the lives of all who trust Him, and gave freedom to the former slaves of sin.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Advertisements

Questions about Jesus Christ: Knowing Jesus vs. Knowing about Jesus—What Is the Difference?

 

Fan magazines help us answer this question. Adoring fans of movie, TV, music, or sports stars buy thousands of dollars’ worth of information, photos, and juicy tidbits. After poring over such material, the fans feel as if they really know their heroes. But do they? They may know certain facts about their chosen hero. They may be able to cite birth date, favorite color, and childhood pets, but, if they were to meet that person face to face, what would the hero say? Does the fan really know the hero?

Jesus responded to this question in Matthew 7:21–23: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’ ” There were people in Jesus’ day who thought they were friends of His because they knew the Law, made strict rules for themselves (and for others), and listened to His teaching. They followed Him, applauded the miracles, and liked some of what He said. But Jesus calls them “evildoers” and states, “I never knew you.”

Today there are thousands who know about Jesus—that is, they know some facts about Him, commit Bible verses to memory, and perhaps attend church regularly. But they have never allowed the facts to become their personal reality. They hold knowledge in their heads without allowing the truth to penetrate their hearts. Jesus explained the problem: “These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are merely human rules” (Matthew 15:8–9; Mark 7:6).

We easily substitute religion for a real relationship with Jesus. We often think that, if we are doing “Christian things,” that’s all that counts. We can appreciate the facts of Jesus’ death and resurrection, but until we have made Him our Lord, the facts do us no good (John 3:16–18; Acts 10:43; Romans 10:9). There is a difference between intellectual assent and saving faith. Knowing Jesus means we have accepted His sacrifice on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21). We ask Him to be the Lord of our lives (John 1:12; Acts 2:21). We identify with Him in His death and consider our old selves to have died with Him (Colossians 3:3; Romans 6:2, 5; Galatians 6:14; 2:20). We accept His forgiveness and cleansing from sin and seek to know Him in intimate fellowship through His Holy Spirit (John 17:3; Philippians 3:10; 1 John 2:27).

When we repent of our sin and surrender our lives to Him, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38; John 14:26; 16:13). The Holy Spirit comes to live inside us, changing us forever (1 Corinthians 6:19; 1 John 3:9). The facts we knew about Jesus come alive as we get to know Him personally. Let’s say you’ve read that your favorite movie star has green eyes and a dimple in her chin. Those traits are merely facts on paper until you meet her face to face. Then, suddenly, those green eyes are looking at you, and the dimple springs to her chin when she smiles. She tells you about her day, her fears, and her inner thoughts. You may recall that you had heard those facts before, but now you are experiencing them. You knew about her before, but now you know her. The abstract has become concrete. Things you thought you knew start to make sense as you enter into a relationship.

Jesus is a Person. To know Him is to enter into a relationship. The greatest commandment is to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength” (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). It’s hard to love someone you don’t know. Loving Him starts with surrendering to His plan for your life. That’s what it means to make Him Lord (Matthew 6:33; Romans 10:9–10; Psalm 16:8). The nature of God is so vast and complex that no human being can fully know everything there is to know about Him. But life is about continually seeking Him, learning more about Him, and enjoying His fellowship (Jeremiah 29:13; Philippians 3:8).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: Was Jesus a Prophet?

 

Prophets are presented in the Bible as having several functions. First, prophets are spokesmen for God. When the people of Israel asked the prophet Samuel for a king, God told Samuel, “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king” (1 Samuel 8:7). Samuel was responsible to relay the Word of God to the people of Israel, and God states that He was the source of Samuel’s authority and words. Thus, Samuel the prophet was God’s representative.

Many other passages in the Old Testament have statements such as “the word of the Lord came to …” indicating that the source of the message was God and not the prophet (e.g., 2 Samuel 7:4; 2 Kings 20:4; Jeremiah 1:4; Ezekiel 3:16; and the opening verses of Hosea, Joel, Micah, Jonah, and Zephaniah). Similarly, Jesus taught a heavenly message: “My teaching is not my own. It comes from the one who sent me” (John 7:16). He also stated that He spoke “just what the Father has taught me” (John 8:28). In Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer, He says, “I gave them the words you gave me” (John 17:8). Thus, Jesus clearly fulfilled the role of a prophet, as He was a spokesman for God.

The second primary function of a prophet in the Bible is what people commonly think of when they hear the term prophecy, and that is foretelling or predicting future events through divine revelation. Foretelling, though not the prophets’ most common task, is another form of their primary role. In speaking on God’s behalf, sometimes the message would include predicting the future. Jesus predicted the future when He told His disciples “that he must go to Jerusalem and suffer many things at the hands of the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life” (Matthew 16:21). This prophecy is recorded as fulfilled in all four Gospel accounts (Matthew 27–28; Mark 15–16; Luke 22–24; and John 18–20). Jesus also predicted that, shortly after His ascension, the disciples would receive power at the coming of the Holy Spirit (Acts 1:8). Acts 2 records the fulfillment of the prophecy: the apostles received the Holy Spirit and spoke in languages they did not know to proclaim the gospel to at least fifteen different language groups present in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Thus, Jesus clearly fulfilled the role of a prophet, as He spoke predictively.

A third function of some of the prophets was healing and miracles. Moses performed many miracles, including parting the Red Sea (Exodus 14:21–22). Elijah performed a miracle when he called fire down from heaven to burn up a sacrifice (1 Kings 18:36–38). Elisha performed a miracle when he made the ax head float in the water (2 Kings 6:6). All four Gospel accounts record Jesus performing many miracles and healings (e.g., Matthew 8:14–15; Mark 1:40–45; Luke 8:42–48; and John 6:16–21).

The title “prophet” is used many times in the Gospels when other people refer to Jesus (Matthew 21:11; Luke 7:16; John 4:19). Jesus also alluded to Himself as a prophet in Mark 6:4.

God had told Moses that someday He would send another prophet to Israel, “and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:18). Jesus was the prophet who fulfilled that prophecy (see Acts 3:22; 7:37). Jesus fulfills all the requirements for a prophet in title, word, and deed. He is the ultimate prophet in that He is the very Word of God Himself (John 1:1).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Does ‘Christ’ Mean?

 

To the surprise of some, “Christ” is not Jesus’ last name (surname). “Christ” comes from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed one” or “chosen one.” This is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word Mashiach, or “Messiah.” “Jesus” is the Lord’s human name given to Mary by the angel Gabriel (Luke 1:31). “Christ” is His title, signifying Jesus was sent from God to be a King and Deliverer (see Daniel 9:25; Isaiah 32:1). “Jesus Christ” means “Jesus the Messiah” or “Jesus the Anointed One.”

In ancient Israel, when someone was given a position of authority, oil was poured on his head to signify his being set apart for God’s service (e.g., 1 Samuel 10:1). Kings, priests, and prophets were anointed in such fashion. Anointing was a symbolic act to indicate God’s choosing (e.g., 1 Samuel 24:6). Although the literal meaning of anointed refers to the application of oil, it can also refer to one’s consecration by God, even if literal oil is not used (Hebrews 1:9).

There are hundreds of prophetic passages in the Old Testament that refer to a coming Messiah who would deliver His people (e.g., Isaiah 61:1; Daniel 9:26). Ancient Israel thought their Messiah would come with military might to deliver them from decades of captivity to earthly kings and pagan nations. But the New Testament reveals a much better deliverance provided by Jesus the Messiah—a deliverance from the power and penalty of sin (Luke 4:18; Romans 6:23).

The Bible says Jesus was anointed with oil on two separate occasions by two different women (Matthew 26:6–7; Luke 7:37–38), but the most significant anointing came by way of the Holy Spirit (Acts 10:38). Jesus’ title of “Christ” means He is God’s Anointed One, the One who fulfills the Old Testament prophecies, the Chosen Savior who came to rescue sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and the King of kings who is coming back again to set up His Kingdom on earth (Zechariah 14:9).[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Does Incarnate Mean? How Was Jesus God Incarnate?

 

The Latin verbincarnaremeant “to make flesh.” When we say that Jesus Christ is God “Incarnate,” we mean that the Son of God took on a fleshly, bodily form (John 1:14). However, when this happened in the womb of Mary, Jesus’ earthly mother, He did not stop being deity. Although Jesus became fully human (Hebrews 2:17), He retained His status as God (John 1:1, 14). How Jesus is able to be both man and God simultaneously is one of the great mysteries of Christianity but is nevertheless a test of orthodoxy (1 John 4:2; 2 John 1:7). Jesus has two distinct natures, divine and human. “Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (John 14:11).

The Bible clearly teaches the deity of Christ by presenting His fulfillment of numerous Old Testament prophecies (Isaiah 7:14; Psalm 2:7), His eternal existence (John 1:1–3; John 8:58), His miraculous virgin birth (Luke 1:26–31), His miracles (Matthew 9:24–25), His authority to forgive sin (Matthew 9:6), His acceptance of worship (Matthew 14:33), His ability to predict the future (Matthew 24:1–2), and His resurrection from the dead (Luke 24:36–39). The writer of Hebrews tells us Jesus is superior to angels (Hebrews 1:4–5) and angels are to worship Him (Hebrews 1:6).

The Bible also teaches the Incarnation—Jesus became fully human by taking on human flesh. Jesus was conceived in the womb and was born (Luke 2:7), He experienced normal aging (Luke 2:40), He had natural physical needs (John 19:28) and human emotions (Matthew 26:38), He learned (Luke 2:52), He died a physical death (Luke 23:46), and He was resurrected with a physical body (Luke 24:39). Jesus was human in every way except for sin; He lived a completely sinless life (Hebrews 4:15).

When Christ took on the form of a human, His nature did not change, but His position did. Jesus, in His original nature of God in spirit form, humbled Himself by laying aside His glory and privileges (Philippians 2:6–8). God can never stop being God because He is immutable (Hebrews 13:8) and infinite (Revelation 1:8). If Jesus stopped being fully God for even a split second, all life would die (see Acts 17:28). The doctrine of the Incarnation says that Jesus, while remaining fully God, became fully man.[1]

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Is the Passover Lamb? How Is Jesus Our Passover Lamb?

 

The Passover lamb was the animal God directed the Israelites to use as a sacrifice in Egypt on the night God struck down the firstborn sons of every household (Exodus 12:29). This was the final plague God issued against Pharaoh, and it led to Pharaoh releasing the Israelites from slavery (Exodus 11:1). After that fateful night, God instructed the Israelites to observe the Passover Feast as a lasting memorial (Exodus 12:14).

God instructed every household of the Israelite people to select a year-old male lamb without defect (Exodus 12:5; cf. Leviticus 22:20–21). The head of the household was to slaughter the lamb at twilight, taking care that none of its bones were broken, and apply some of its blood to the tops and sides of the doorframe of the house. The lamb was to be roasted and eaten (Exodus 12:7–8). God also gave specific instructions as to how the Israelites were to eat the lamb, “with your cloak tucked into your belt, your sandals on your feet and your staff in your hand (Exodus 12:11; cf. Ephesians 6:14). In other words, they had to be ready to travel.

God said that when He saw the lamb’s blood on the doorframe of a house, He would “pass over” that home and not permit “the destroyer” (Exodus 12:23) to enter. Any home without the blood of the lamb would have their firstborn son struck down that night (Exodus 12:12–13).

The New Testament establishes a relationship between this prototypical Passover lamb and the consummate Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 5:7). The prophet John the Baptist recognized Jesus as “the Lamb of God” (John 1:29), and the apostle Peter links the lamb without defect (Exodus 12:5) with Christ, whom he calls a “lamb without blemish or defect” (1 Peter 1:19). Jesus is qualified to be called One “without blemish” because His life was completely free from sin (Hebrews 4:14). In Revelation, John the apostle sees Jesus as “a Lamb, looking as if it had been slain” (Revelation 5:6). Jesus was crucified during the time that the Passover was observed (Mark 14:12).

The Bible says believers have symbolically applied the sacrificial blood of Christ to their hearts and thus have escaped eternal death (Hebrews 9:12, 14). Just as the Passover lamb’s applied blood caused the “destroyer” to pass over each household, Christ’s applied blood causes God’s judgment to pass over sinners and gives life to believers (Romans 6:23).

As the first Passover marked the Hebrews’ release from Egyptian slavery, so the death of Christ marks our release from the slavery of sin (Romans 8:2). As the first Passover was to be held in remembrance as an annual feast, so Christians are to memorialize the Lord’s death in communion until He returns (1 Corinthians 11:26).

The Old Testament Passover lamb, although a reality in that time, was a mere foreshadowing of the better and final Passover Lamb, Jesus Christ. Through His sinless life and sacrificial death, Jesus became the only One capable of giving people a way to escape death and a sure hope of eternal life (1 Peter 1:20–21).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Is the Significance of Jesus Eating with Sinners?

 

In Mark 2, soon after calling Matthew to follow Him, Jesus ate a meal with “many publicans and sinners” in Matthew’s house (verse 15). Matthew had been a tax collector (publican), and these were his friends and acquaintances who were now spending time with Jesus (cf. Luke 5:39). The scribes and the Pharisees complained, but Jesus’ actions in spending time with sinnerstranscendedHis culture and actually shoulddefineChristian culture as we know it.

In Jesus’ day, rabbis and other spiritual leaders were the highest members of Jewish society. Everyone looked up to the Pharisees. They were strict adherents to the Law and tradition, and they avoided those whom they deemed “sinners” because they had a “clean” image to maintain. Tax collectors, infamous for embezzlement and their cooperation with the hated Romans, definitely fell into the “sinner” category.

As Jesus’ ministry grew, so did His popularity among the social outcasts of society. Now that Matthew was part of His inner circle, Jesus naturally had more contact with the pariahs in Matthew’s circle. Spending time with the publicans and sinners was part of Jesus’ mission: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mark 2:17). If Jesus was to reach the lost, He must have some contact with them. He went to where the need was because “it is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.” Praise the Lord, the Great Physician makes house calls.

Sitting at Matthew’s dinner table, Jesus may have broken some societal taboos, but His presence there shows that He looked beyond culture to people’s hearts. Whereas the Pharisees wrote people off simply because of their profession or their past, Jesus looked past all that and saw their need.

Jesus also transcended culture when He conversed with the Samaritan woman at the well—even His disciples were surprised by that one (John 4:27). Other telling incidents: Jesus forgives an immoral woman in Luke 7, He helps a Syro-Phoenician woman in Mark 7, He touches a leper in Luke 5, and He enters Zacchaeus’s house in Luke 19.

Jesus came to save sinners (Luke 19:10). Tradition, cultural bans, and the frowns of a few do not matter when a soul’s eternal destiny is on the line.

The fact that Jesus saw individuals, not just their labels, no doubt inspired them to know Him better. They recognized Jesus as a righteous man, a man of God—the miracles He performed bore witness to that—and they saw His compassion and sincerity.

Jesus didn’t let social status or cultural norms dictate His relationships with people. As the Good Shepherd, He sought the lost sheep wherever they had strayed. When Matthew hosted the dinner party, Jesus gladly accepted the invitation. It was a wonderful opportunity to share the good news of the kingdom with those who most needed to hear (see Matthew 4:23). Yes, He would be criticized for His actions, but what prophet ever lived without criticism?

Jesus transcended cultural norms and was not above spending time with the outcasts of society. He spoke truth to sinners and loved them; He offered them hope, based on their repentance and faith in Himself (Mark 1:15).

Unlike the Pharisees, Jesus didn’t require people to changebeforecoming to Him. He sought them out, met them where they were, and extended grace to them in their circumstances. Change would come to those who accepted Christ, but it would be from the inside out. Jesus knew better than anyone that the kindness of God leads sinners to repentance (Romans 2:4).

Jesus showed us that we shouldn’t let cultural norms dictate whom we evangelize. The sick need a physician. Lost sheep need a shepherd. Are we praying the Lord of the harvest to send laborers into the field (Luke 10:2)? Are we willing to go ourselves?[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Was Jesus’ Mission?

 

Several times in Jesus’ life, He shows that He was a man on a mission. He had a purpose, which He intentionally fulfilled. Even at a young age, Jesus knew that He “must be about [His] Father’s business” (Luke 2:49, KJV). In the last days of His earthly life, Jesus “resolutely set out for Jerusalem,” where He knew He would be killed (Luke 9:51). It could be said that the fundamental mission of Christ’s time on earth was to fulfill God’s plan of saving the lost.

Jesus put it this way in Luke 19:10: “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Jesus had just been criticized for going to the house of a “sinner.” Jesus responded by affirming His mission was to save people who needed saving. Their reputation for sinfulness was not a reason to avoid them; rather, it was a reason to seek them out. Many times during Christ’s ministry, He sought to forgive those whom the self-righteous leaders of the day shunned. He sought out and saved the woman at the well and the Samaritans of her town (John 4:39–41), the sinful woman with the alabaster jar (Luke 7:37), and even one of His own disciples, Matthew, who had been a tax collector (Matthew 9:9).

In Matthew 9, once again Jesus was criticized for “eating with tax collectors and sinners” (verse 11), and once again Jesus responded by stating His mission: “I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners” (verse 13). Jesus’ goal was to save. It was a goal that He reached: “I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do” (John 17:4).

All through the Gospels, we see Jesus call to repentance and forgive the worst of sinners. No one is too sinful to come to Him. In fact, He goes after those who are lost, as the parables of the lost sheep and lost coin show (Luke 15:1–10). In the story of the prodigal son, Jesus teaches that God will always welcome with open arms those who come to Him with a repentant heart (Luke 15:21–22; cf. Isaiah 57:15). Even today, Jesus continues to seek and save those who humbly place their faith in Him (Matthew 11:29; 18:3–4; Revelation 3:20).[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: Where Is Jesus Now? Is Jesus in Heaven?

 

According to Mark 16:19 and 1 Peter 3:22, Jesus is in heaven right now at the right hand of God the Father. Luke 24:51 and Acts 1:9–11 describe the bodily ascension of Jesus, which occurred 40 days after His resurrection. Jesus had told His disciples that He was going to prepare a place for them and for all believers (John 14:2–3).

It is plain from Scripture that Jesus’ ascension was a literal and bodily return to heaven. He rose up from the ground gradually and was received into a cloud while His disciples and other astonished onlookers gazed in wonder. Then two angels appeared and promised Christ’s return “in just the same way that you have watched Him go (Acts 1:11). This marked the end of the human limitations Jesus had during His earthly ministry. Some of the attributes He possessed as God had been temporarily suspended, but now the suspension was over. His heavenly glory returned—a glimpse of which was seen at the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:1–9).

King David said in the Spirit, “The LORD says to my lord: ‘Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet’ ” (Psalm 110:1). This verse means literally “Jehovah says to Adonai.” This is a remarkable conversation between two Persons of the Godhead. In Matthew 22:43–45, Jesus applies this psalm to Himself, claiming that He is more than the son of David, but that He is David’s Lord. Jesus’ place is at the right hand of God, the place of divine honor.

Other passages that indicate Jesus’ presence in heaven are Matthew 26:64; Luke 22:69; Ephesians 1:20; Colossians 3:1; Hebrews 12:2; and Revelation 5:7. Also Stephen, just before he died, had a vision in which he “looked up to heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God” (Acts 7:55).

So, biblically, Jesus is in an actual place called heaven, a place of glory where God dwells with His angels and redeemed children. In another sense, Jesus is also with us here, in this world. Jesus, being God, has all of the attributes of God, including omnipresence. So, Jesus and the Father and the Holy Spirit are everywhere and not just “in heaven.” As Solomon said in 2 Chronicles 2:6, “The heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him.”[1]

 

 

[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.

Questions about Jesus Christ: Who Was Jesus?

 

The Nicene Creed (a.d. 325) states the uniform belief of all orthodox Christianity that Christ was fully God and fully Man. All heresies regarding Christ deny one or the other of these. This portion of the chapter will show that Jesus was fully human, claimed to be God, and offered more than adequate evidence to support that claim.

His Humanity

While some have insisted that Jesus was only a man, others have said that He only appeared to be human. In reality, they say, He was a phantom—an apparition with no physical substance—pure Spirit with the illusion of material form. This doctrine is called Docetism. If this is so, then Christ was not really tempted as we are and did not really die because a spirit can do neither of these things. Hence, He was not really “one of us” and cannot be our substitute in atoning for our sins. Also, His resurrection was nothing more than a return to His natural state, and it has no implications for us as to our future. Because of this teaching that Christ’s feet never quite touched the ground, it is necessary to show that Jesus was fully human.

His development

Jesus went through all the normal processes of human development. He was conceived in His mother’s womb by the Holy Spirit (Matt. 1:18, 20; Luke 1:34–35). He was born of a woman who had carried Him to full term (2:6–7). He grew up as a normal Boy, developing physically, mentally, and emotionally (v. 40–52). He aged so that while He was in His early thirties the crowd in Jerusalem said, “You are not yet fifty years old” (John 8:57).

His affections

Jesus displayed all of the traits of humanity in His needs. Physically, He hungered (Matt. 4:2), thirsted (John 19:28), became tired (Mark 4:38), and breathed (Luke 23:46) as a human. Emotionally, He expressed sorrow (Matt. 26:38), wonder (Mark 6:6), anger and grief (3:5), and compassion (1:41). He was also tempted to sin, though He did not yield to the temptation (Matt. 4:1–11; Mark 1:12–13; Luke 4:1–13; Heb. 2:18; 4:15). The shortest verse in the Bible speaks profoundly of Jesus’ humanity in His inner life: “Jesus wept” (John 11:35).

His death

There is nothing more opposed to the divine nature than death, yet Jesus died a human death. It was witnessed by many people, including John, a small group of women followers, the soldiers, and the mocking crowd (Luke 23:48–49; John 19:25–27). His death was also confirmed by professional executioners of Rome (vv. 32–34). He was buried in accordance with the customs of the time and set in a grave (vv. 38–41). You can’t get more human than that!

His Deity

Jesus made numerous claims to be God. We will examine these claims and the evidence that He gave to support them.

Who did Jesus claim to be?

Claim to be Jehovah (Yahweh)

Jehovah or, more properly, Yahweh is the special name given by God for Himself. In the Hebrew Old Testament, it is written simply as four letters (YHWH) and was considered so holy that a devout Jew would not pronounce it. Those who wrote it would perform a special ceremony first. It is the name revealed to Moses in Exodus 3:14, when God said, “I AM WHO I AM,” and the meaning of the name has to do with God’s self-existence. While other titles for God may be used of men (adonai in Gen. 18:12) or false gods (elohim in Deut. 6:14), Yahweh is only used to refer to the one true God. Nothing else was to be worshiped or served (Ex. 20:5), and His name and glory were not to be given to another. Isaiah wrote, “Thus saith [Yahweh] … I am the first, and I am the last; and beside Me there is no God” (44:6, kjv) and, “I am [Yahweh], that is My name; and My glory I will not give to another, neither My praise to graven images” (42:8, kjv).

In light of this, it is no wonder that the Jews picked up stones and accused Jesus of blasphemy when He claimed to be Jehovah. Jesus said, “I am the Good Shepherd” (John 10:11), but the Old Testament said, “[Yahweh] is my shepherd” (Ps. 23:1). Jesus claimed to be the judge of all men (Matt. 25:31ff; John 5:27ff), but the Prophet Joel quotes Yahweh as saying, “For there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations” (Joel 3:12). Jesus prayed, “Father, glorify Thou Me with Thine own Self with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was” (John 17:5, kjv). But Yahweh of the Old Testament said, “I will not give My glory to another” (Isa. 42:8). Likewise, Jesus spoke of Himself as the “Bridegroom” (Matt. 25:1) while the Old Testament identifies Yahweh in this way (Isa. 62:5; Hosea 2:16). The risen Christ says, “I am the first and the last” (Rev. 1:17)—precisely the words used by Yahweh in Isaiah 42:8. While the psalmist declares, “[Yahweh] is my light” (Ps. 27:1), Jesus said, “I am the light of the world” (John 8:12). Perhaps the strongest claim Jesus made to be Yahweh is in verse 58, where He says, “Before Abraham was born, I AM.” This statement claims not only existence before Abraham, but equality with the “I AM” of Exodus 3:14. The Jews around Him clearly understood His meaning and picked up stones to kill Him for blaspheming (cf. John 8:58; 10:31–33). The same claim is made in Mark 14:62 and John 18:5–6.

Overview of Jesus’ Claims

To be Yahweh—John 8:58

Equality with God—John 5:18

To be Messiah—Mark 14:61–64

Accepts worship—Matthew 28:17

Equal authority with God—Matthew 28:18

Prayer in His name—John 14:13–14

Claim to be equal with God

Jesus claimed to be equal with God in other ways too. He not only assumed the titles of Deity, but claimed for Himself the prerogatives of God. He said to a paralytic, “My son, your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:5ff). The scribes correctly responded, “Who can forgive sins but God alone?” So, to prove that His claim was not an empty boast He healed the man, offering direct proof that what He had said about forgiving sins was true also.

Another prerogative that Jesus claimed was the power to raise and judge the dead: “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and those who hear shall live … and shall come forth; those who did the good deeds, to a resurrection of life, those who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:25–29). He removed all doubt about His meaning when He added, “For just as the Father raises the dead and gives them life, even so the Son also gives life to whom He wishes” (v. 21). But the Old Testament clearly taught that only God was the giver of life (1 Sam. 2:6; Deut. 32:39); the One to raise the dead (1 Sam. 2:6; Ps. 49:15) and the only Judge (Joel 3:12; Deut. 32:35). Jesus boldly assumed for Himself powers that only God has.

But Jesus also claimed that He should be honored as God. He said that all men should “honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father” (John 5:23). The Jews listening knew that no one should claim to be equal with God in this way, and again they sought to kill Him (v. 18).

What Is Messiah?

The word Messiah comes from the Hebrew word meaning “Anointed One.” In a general sense, the word is used of Cyrus the Persian (Isa. 45:1) and the king of Israel (1 Sam. 26:11). After the death of David, Israel began looking for a king like him because of the promise of 2 Samuel 7:12–16. But prophecies of a coming Saviour/Prophet/King go back as far as Genesis 3:15 and Deuteronomy 18. Many passages describe the coming King. He is said to be of David’s seed (Jer. 33), and born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). His acts are to include making the blind see, releasing captives, and proclaiming the Gospel (Isa. 61:1). His kingdom is described in Zechariah 9 and 12. In the period between the Testaments, two ideas of Messiah arose: one political, one spiritual. Both were expected to be found in the same Person.

Claim to be Messiah-God

The teaching of the Old Testament is clear that the coming Messiah who would deliver Israel would be God Himself. When Jesus claimed to be that Messiah, He was also claiming to be God. For example, the famous Christmas text (Isa. 9:6) calls the Messiah, “Mighty God, the everlasting Father.” The psalmist wrote of Messiah, “Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Ps. 45:6; cf. Heb. 1:8). Psalm 110:1 records a conversation between the Father and the Son: “[Yahweh] says to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand.’ ” Jesus applied this passage to Himself in Matthew 22:43–44. In the great messianic prophecy of Daniel 7, the Son of man is called the “Ancient of Days” (v. 22), a phrase used twice in the same passage of God the Father (vv. 9, 13). Throughout His ministry, the title Son of man was Jesus’ favorite way of referring to Himself, making clear illusion to this passage. But Jesus also quoted it directly at His trial before the high priest. When asked, “Are You the Christ [Greek for Messiah], the Son of the Blessed One?” Jesus responded, “I am; and you shall see the Son of man sitting at the right hand of power, and coming with the clouds of heaven.” At this, the high priest tore his robe and said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy!” (Mark 14:61–64) There was no doubt that in claiming to be Messiah, Jesus also claimed to be God.

Claim by accepting worship

The Old Testament forbids worshiping anyone other than God (Ex. 20:1–5; Deut. 5:6–9). The New Testament agrees, showing that men refused worship (Acts 14:15) as did angels (Rev. 22:8–9). But Jesus accepted worship on numerous occasions. A healed leper worshiped Him (Matt. 8:2), and a ruler knelt before Him with a request (9:18). After He stilled the storm, “those who were in the boat worshiped Him saying, ‘Truly You are the Son of God’ ” (14:33, niv). A group of Canaanite women (15:25), the mother of James and John (20:20), the Gerasene demoniac (Mark 5:6), all worshiped Jesus without one word of rebuke (cf. Rev. 22:8–9). A blind man said, “ ‘Lord, I believe.’ And he worshiped Him” (John 9:38). But Christ also elicited worship in some cases, as when Thomas saw the risen Christ and cried out, “My Lord and my God!” (20:28) This could only be done by a Person who seriously considered Himself to be God.

Claim to equal authority with God

Jesus also put His words on a par with God’s. “You have heard that the ancients were told.… But I say to you” (Matt. 5:21–22) is repeated over and over again. “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (28:18–19). God had given the Ten Commandments to Moses, but Jesus said, “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another” (John 13:34). Jesus said, “Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass away from the Law” (Matt. 5:18), but later Jesus said of His own words, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words shall not pass away” (24:35). Speaking of those who reject Him, Jesus said, “The word I spoke is what will judge him at the last day” (John 12:48). There is no question that Jesus expected His words to have equal authority with God’s declarations in the Old Testament.

Claim by requesting prayer in His name

Jesus not only asked men to believe in Him and obey His commandments, but also He asked them to pray in His name. “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do.… If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:13–14). “If you abide in Me, and My words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it shall be done for you” (15:7). Jesus even insisted, “No one comes to the Father, but through Me” (14:6). In response to this the disciples not only prayed in Jesus’ name (1 Cor. 5:4), but prayed to Christ (Acts 7:59). Jesus certainly intended that His name be invoked both before God and as God in prayer.

So Jesus claimed to be God in several ways. He claimed equality with God in prerogatives, honor, worship, and authority. He claimed to be Yahweh of the Old Testament by applying truths about Yahweh to Himself and by claiming to be the promised Messiah. Finally, He claimed to be the only way to approach God in prayer and requested prayer to Himself as God. The reactions of the Jews around Him show that they clearly understood these things to be blasphemous claims for a mere man to make. Any unbiased observer studying this historically reliable record of Jesus’ teaching must agree that He claimed to be equal with Yahweh of the Old Testament.[1]


[1] Geisler, N. L., & Brooks, R. M. (1990). When skeptics ask (pp. 103–110). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.

Questions about Jesus Christ: Did Jesus claim to be God? Even if He did make the claim, why should I believe it?

 

Among the religious leaders who have attained a large following throughout history, Jesus Christ is unique in the fact that He alone claimed to be God in human flesh. A common misconception is that some or many of the leaders of the world’s religions made similar claims, but this is simply not the case.

Buddha did not claim to be God; Moses never said that he was Yahweh; Mohammed did not identify himself as Allah; and nowhere will you find Zoroaster claiming to be Ahura Mazda. Yet Jesus, the carpenter from Nazareth, said that he who has seen Him (Jesus) has seen the Father (John 14:9).

The claims of Christ are many and varied. He said that He existed before Abraham (John 8:58), and that He was equal with the Father (John 5:17, 18). Jesus claimed the ability to forgive sins (Mark 2:5–7), which the Bible teaches was something that God alone could do (Isaiah 43:25).

The New Testament equated Jesus as the creator of the universe (John 1:3), and that He is the one who holds everything together (Colossians 1:17). The apostle Paul says that God was manifest in the flesh (I Timothy 3:16, KJV), and John the evangelist says that “the Word was God” (John 1:1). The united testimony of Jesus and the writers of the New Testament is that He was more than mere man; He was God.

Not only did His friends notice that He claimed to be God, but so did His enemies as well. There may be some doubt today among the skeptics who refuse to examine the evidence, but there was no doubt on the part of the Jewish authorities.

When Jesus asked them why they wanted to stone Him, they replied, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God” (John 10:33, NASB).

This fact separates Jesus from the other religious figures. In the major religions of the world, the teachings—not the teacher—are all-important.

Confucianism is a set of teachings; Confucius is not important. Islam is the revelation of Allah, with Mohammed being the prophet, and Buddhism emphasizes the principles of the Buddha and not Buddha himself. This is especially true of Hinduism, where there is no historic founder.

However, at the center of Christianity is the person of Jesus Christ. Jesus did not just claim to be teaching mankind the truth; He claimed that He was the truth (John 14:6).

What Jesus taught is not the important aspect of Christianity, but what is important is who Jesus was. Was He the Son of God? Is He the only way a person can reach God? This was the claim He made for Himself.

Suppose this very night the President of the United States appeared on all the major networks and proclaimed that “I am God Almighty. I have the power to forgive sin. I have the authority to raise my life back from the dead.”

He would be quickly and quietly shut off the air, led away, and replaced by the Vice-President. Anybody who would dare make such claims would have to be either out of his mind or a liar, unless he was God.

This is exactly the case with Jesus. He clearly claimed all these things and more. If He is God, as He claimed, we must believe in Him, and if He is not, then we should have nothing to do with Him. Jesus is either Lord of all or not Lord at all.

Yes, Jesus claimed to be God. Why should anyone believe it? After all, merely claiming to be something does not make it true. Where’s the evidence that Jesus is God?

The Bible gives various reasons, including miracles and fulfilled prophecy, that are intended to convince us that Jesus is the one whom He said He was (John 20:30, 31). The main reason, or the sign which Jesus Himself said would demonstrate that He was the Son of God, was His resurrection from the dead.

When asked for a sign from the religious leaders, Jesus replied, “For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the whale, so will the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matthew 12:40, RSV).

In another place He said, when asked for a sign, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up…  but he spake of the temple of his body” (John 2:19, 21, KJV). The ability to raise His life back from the dead was the sign that separates Him not only from all other religious leaders, but also from anyone else who has ever lived.

Anyone wishing to refute the case for Christianity must explain away the story of the resurrection. Therefore, according to the Bible, Jesus proves to be the Son of God by coming back from the dead (Romans 1:4). The evidence is overwhelming that Jesus did rise from the grave, and it is this fact that proves Jesus to be God.[1]

 


[1] McDowell, J., & Stewart, D. D. (1993). Answers to tough questions. Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.

Questions about Jesus Christ: What Language Did Jesus Speak?

 

While Jesus very likely spoke Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek, Aramaic was likely the language Jesus spoke the most. The Gospels record Jesus speaking numerous Aramaic words: talitha koum (Mark 5:41); ephphatha (Mark 7:34); eloi eloi lama sabachthani (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34); abba (Mark 14:36). Historians, archaeologists, and cultural anthropologists are almost universally agreed that Aramaic was the common or colloquial language in Israel during Jesus’ time. Aramaic was very similar to Hebrew, but with many words and phrases that were borrowed from other languages and cultures, especially Babylonian.

Hebrew was spoken primarily by the scribes, teachers of the law, Pharisees, and Sadducees, the “religious elite.” Hebrew was likely often read in the synagogues, so most people were probably able to speak and understand some Hebrew. Since Greek was the language of the Romans, who had power over Israel during Jesus’ time, Greek was the language of the political class and anyone who wanted to do business with the Romans. Greek was the universal language at that time, so, the ability to speak Greek was a highly desirable skill. Some, however, refused to speak Greek out of resentment toward their Roman oppressors. When Jesus spoke with Pontius Pilate, it is possible that He spoke to him in Greek, although Pilate, as the governor, likely would have been able to speak Aramaic as well.

Jesus, as God incarnated in human form, could have spoken any language He chose. In His humanity, Jesus likely limited Himself to the languages common to His culture: Aramaic, Hebrew, and Greek. Jesus likely spoke whichever of the three languages was most appropriate to the audience He was addressing.[1]

 


[1] Got Questions Ministries. (2010). Got Questions? Bible Questions Answered. Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.