Category Archives: Jesus Christ Questions

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.