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Christian Basics- Chapter 4, Jesus Christ

Written by: Guenther, Herb and Debbie    Posted on: 05/05/2003

Category: Bible Studies

Source: CCN

                        Jesus Christ

        We believe Jesus Christ is true God and true Man, having been     conceived of the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.  He died on     the cross a sacrifice for our sins, according to the scriptures.     Further, He arose bodily from the dead and ascended into heaven, where     at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He is now our High Priest and     Advocate, and in the Person of the Holy Spirit, He indwells the     believer. 1

        Christianity owes its life and character in every detail to     Christ.  Its teachings are teachings about Him.  He was the origin and     will be the fulfillment of its hopes.  He is the source of its ideas,     which were born of what He said and did.  The strength of Christ's     church is the strength of His own Spirit, who is omnipotent. 2

        Jesus is mysterious and wonderful, we can all be on a life-long     journey of discovery about Him.  The most wonderful aspect of all is     that some day, perhaps soon, we will be together with Him.  Let's learn     some things about Him now.  After all, why wait?  The following poem     makes my heart to yearn to be with Him soon.

                      Jesus, these eyes have never seen                         That radiant form of Thine;                       The veil of sense hangs dark between                         Thy blessed face and mine.

                      I see Thee not, I hear Thee not,                       Yet art Thou oft with me;                       And earth hath ne'er so dear a spot                       As where I meet with Thee.

                      Like some bright dream that comes unsought                       When slumbers o're me roll,                       Thine image ever fills my thought,                       And charms my ravished soul.

                      Yet, though I have not seen, and still                       Must rest in faith alone,                       I love Thee, dearest Lord, and will,                       Unseen but not unknown.

                      When death these mortal eyes shall seal,                       And still this throbbing heart,                       The rending veil shall Thee reveal                       All glorious as Thou art. 6

                      What does the Old Testament say

        The Old Testament tells us many things in many places about the     coming of Christ.  For the sake of brevity we will look at the book of     Isaiah. It has a rich store of prophecy regarding the appearance and     ministry of the Christ or Messiah.

        What will the Messiah be like?  He will be kingly (Isa 9:6-7,     32:1-3, 42:1-4).  He will have wisdom, understanding, power, and     knowledge (Isa 11:2).  He will come to those who repent of their sins     (Isa 59:20).

                                    (18)         How will He appear on earth?  He will be preceded by a messenger     (Isa 40:3).  He will be born as a child (Isa 9:6).  He will be divinely     conceived and born of a virgin mother (Isa 7:14).  He will be adored by     the Magi (Isa 60:3,6).  He will be linked to the family of Jesse (Isa     11:1).  He will be a Galilean (Isa 9:1).

        He will perform miracles such as giving sight to the blind, speech     to the dumb, and strength to the lame (Isa 35:5,6, 42:7).

        He will be rejected by His people (Isa 6:9-10, 8:14, 29:13) and by     all nations and peoples (Isa 53:1,3, 65:2).

        He will be persecuted (Isa 49:7).  He will be insulted and beaten     (Isa 50:6).  He will be silent when accused (Isa 53:7).  He will be     crucified with sinners (Isa 53:12), and buried with the wealthy (Isa     53:9).

        He will be God, or divine, (Isa 25:9, 40:10) 4

        Just this one book of the Bible, Isaiah, gives us a great deal of     information about the Messiah.  As you can see there is a great deal of     specific prophecy regarding the coming of Christ.  When Jesus was born     the Scriptures had laid out the events of His life from birth to death.     This is just one of the reasons we can be sure that Jesus was the     Christ of God.

        The Old Testament shows the yearning of the chosen people of God     for the Messiah.  Many waited day by day for His coming.  It is said     that every woman of David's line hoped to be the one to have the     privilege of being mother to the Christ.  The Jewish people were united     in the hope of the things to come.  They could look to the promises of     God to their nation and see that they had been kept.  At the same time     they were often a suffering people, they eagerly watched for God to     intervene in their behalf.

        In the same way God reaches towards today's hurting people through     the now risen Christ.  He is still faithful to His promises, and like     the Old Testament Jew, we can look back on the faithfulness of God.  At     the same time we have the most marvelous promise of God to look back     on, lets see how God gave us our Saviour and Lord.

                      What does the New Testament say?

        Obviously the focus of the entire New Testament is on who Jesus     Christ is and how to follow Him.  The four gospels specifically deal     with His life and ministry.  Many of the things told to us in the New     Testament are done specifically to show us how the person of Jesus     Christ fulfilled the Old Testament prophesies.  The book of Luke     teaches about Christ's humanity.  Matthew focuses more on His     kingliness.  The book of John concentrates on His spiritual or divine     aspects.

        Who and what did Jesus say He was?  Jesus said that He was God, in     John 10:30 He states "I and the Father are one" thus telling us that He     is equal and the same as Jehovah.  Jesus not only told His followers     this but when He was being judged by the high priest He said it as well     (Matt 26:63,64).  This statement condemned Him to death on the cross.

        Jesus showed us that He was God through the power He displayed by                                     (19)     performing many miracles.  By performing the miracles, He showed that     He had God's attributes of power over nature (Mark 4:39), control over     physical disease (Mark 3:10), and control over the spirit world (Luke     4:35).  Most impressively He showed us His power over death (John     11:43,44).

        Jesus is omniscient (all knowing) in that He knew what was in our     mind before it was said (Mark 2:8, John 2:25).  He is also omnipresent     in that He was with His followers then 2000 years ago, is now with us,     and will be with us "to the the very end of the age." (Matt 28:20) 2

        Jesus is the creator of the universe (John 1:3)  Jesus was one of     the "us's" active at the time of creation (Gen 1:26).  However Christ     didn't just create the world and set it off spinning like a top,     eventually to have is slow down and fall over.  No, He is active even     today sustaining the world by His power (Heb 1:3, Col 1:16-29).  And He     doesn't just sustain the natural universe, or the physical world, but     also us.

        Lets watch Jesus grow up.  Jesus being fully God is also fully     man.  Just as we looked at His divine attributes, let us also look at     His human ones.  Jesus, although conceived by the Holy Spirit, was born     in a physical body in the usual way (Luke 2:6-7).  He had a normal body     in that He was circumcised (Luke 2:21),  He grew up (Luke 2:52), got     hungry and thirsty (Luke 4:2 John 19:28), and He got tired (John 4:6)     and slept (Matt 8:24).  Lastly He bled and died (John 19:34).  We also     know that Jesus was tempted and had the opportunity to sin, but     didn't.

        The following poem and favorite Christmas hymn expresses the     thoughts of the author on the mystery of the dual nature of the baby     Jesus.

    What Child is this who laid to rest     On Mary's lap is sleeping,     Whom angels greet with anthems sweet     While shepherds watch are keeping?     This, this is Christ the King     Whome shepherds guard and angels sing,     Haste, haste to bring Him laud,     The Babe, the Son of Mary.

    Why lies He in such mean estate     Where ox and ass are feeding?     Good Christian fear, for sinners here     The silent word is pleading.     Nails, spear shall pierce Him through.     The cross He bore for me, for you.     Hail, hail the Lord made flesh,     The Babe, the Son of Mary.

    So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh,     Come peasant, king to own Him.     The King of kings salvation brings,     Let loving hearts enthrone Him.     Raise, raise the song on high,     The virgin sings her lullaby,     Joy, joy for Christ is born,     The Babe, the Son of Mary. 7                                     (20)                           The earthly life of Christ

        Jesus was born of a virgin who was a descendent of David, as was     promised in the Old Testament.  The virgin birth is hard for us to     accept and understand.  Why would God want to do such a strange thing?     Lets back up a bit and look at why Jesus had to be born at all, why     could He have not just appeared and gone about His business?

        If God was to appear on earth as a man in the person of Jesus     Christ there were three ways it could have been done.  The first is     that He could have appeared as a grown man, done His work, and left for     parts above.  The second is that He could have been born in the normal     way of two human parents. And thirdly, He could be born of the union of     a human mother and the Holy Spirit.

        If God had merely appeared as a grown man or occupied a human body     He would have been without a human origin.  What God had in mind     required more than just the Spirit indwelling a person.  This had been     done many times in the past (Sampson etc.).  The indwelling of a human     body by the Spirit does not produce a perfect human, we as Christians     are indwelt by the Spirit and are not perfect.  We could not continue     to exist if Christ came into us and destroyed everything in us that was     not holy.  At the same time God needed the "second Adam" to be perfect     in order to be suitable as a fit sacrifice for our sins (Ro 5:14).

        In the same way if God had chosen two human parents to bear the     baby Jesus a perfect child would not have resulted.  Also this child     could not have been fully man and fully God.  Being born of a human     father would not have identified His human body as the rightful     property of His Deity.  The agency of the Holy Spirit and the mother     Mary establish both His humanity and His Deity.  It is easy for us to     identify with the baby Jesus in the manger in terms of our human     experience.  The men and woman that Jesus met when ministering had no     doubt that He was like us. He enjoyed their hospitality, and suffered     their rejection.

        Jesus was born in a manger in a hotel stable in the town of     Bethleham. They were away from home because of the census that the     Romans were taking at the time.  When He was eight days old He was     circumcised by the priest at the temple.  This was done as a sign of     the continuing covenant between God and His people.

        When Jesus was 40 days old He was taken by His parents to be     consecrated to the Lord at the temple.  This was done for all firstborn     male Jewish children.  When at the temple a man named Simeon came and     acknowledged the baby Jesus as "the Lord's Christ" and the "salvation     which you have prepared in the sight of your people" (Luke 2:22-35).

        When Jesus was 12 years old He was taken to Jerusalem to be     confirmed in the Jewish faith.  When the family left to go home Jesus     stayed at the temple.  There He amazed those who heard His questions     and answers. When Mary and Joseph came looking for Him after noticing     that he was missing, they scolded Him.  He responded by pointing out     that He would naturally be found in His Fathers house, about His     Father's business but they did not understand.

        From this time to the time of His public ministry the Bible only     states that He was obedient to His parents.  We must assume that he

                                    (21)     worked with Joseph in his trade as a carpenter.  Jesus was part of a     family and had brothers and sisters (Mark 6:3, Matt 12:46, 13:55-56).     We can only guess that Jesus' mother Mary was widowed because Joseph is     not mentioned later in Jesus' life and John provided for Mary in her     later years (John 19:26,27).  (Luke 2:52 tells us that He grew in     wisdom and stature and was well liked by those around Him as well as by     God.  If only we could approach that goal!

        When Jesus was about 30 years old He was baptized by his cousin     John.  John had been prepared and sent ahead of Jesus to prepare Israel     to listen to Jesus.  When Jesus was baptized by John, John saw the Holy     Spirit in the form of a dove descend from heaven and sit on Jesus.  A     voice was heard coming from above, it said "This is my Son, whome I     love; with him I am well pleased (Jn 1:32-34).  The baptism of Jesus     marked a new phase in His life.  From this time forward Jesus went     about His spiritual ministry.

        The concept of the dual existence and nature of Christ, both God     and man is difficult to understand.  Perhaps because of this it is one     of the most common heresies from the earliest times.  Even today many     cults claim either that Jesus Christ was not God, such as the Jehovah's     Witnesses, or that He was not fully man, and therefore did not really     die, but only appeared to.

        The orthodox doctrine of the nature of Christ was clearly stated     at the council of Chalcedon in the year AD 451.  It said that "in one     person, Jesus Christ, there are two natures, a human nature and a     divine nature, each in it's completeness and integrity, and that these     two natures are organically and indissolubly united, yet so that no     third nature is formed thereby." 5

                            The Deity of Christ

        The deity of Christ is the real stumbling block for many in     accepting Christianity as true.  It is here that Jews, Moslems,     Unitarians, Jehovah's Witnesses, and many others come to grief.  It is     from misbelief or at least inadequate belief about the incarnation that     difficulties at other points of the gospel story usually spring. 3

        Following Christ is more than just following in the footsteps of a     great man.  To be a Christian means accepting the absolute uniqueness     of His person.  Jesus is different from any other person who has ever     lived.

                        The earthly ministry of Christ

        After Jesus had been baptized, He was directed by the Spirit to go     and fast in the desert.  For 40 days He did not eat and was tempted by     Satan.  When He had shown that he could not be tempted into sinning     angels came and fed Him.

        He then left the desert and proclaimed in the temple publicly that     He was to fulfill the Old Testament prophesies.  After this He went and     called the first disciples.  The first to be called were Simon Peter,     and his brother Andrew.  Then Jesus traveled in the area and both     taught and healed the people which He encountered.  Many of the people     were glad to receive both the healing and the teaching but the civic     and religious leadership didn't like what was happening.

                                    (22)         Jesus did not side step issues in order to be a people pleaser.     He was not a yes man, or even a very comfortable person to be around.     He continually challenged both His friends and enemies.  One of the     things that made many dislike Jesus was that they could not appropriate     His power for their goals.

        Many people began to hear of Jesus' power and wisdom.  As He     traveled thousands of people would follow him into sometimes remote     areas.  Two of His most famous miracles were His feeding of these     crowds.  It is plain to see that Jesus cared a great deal for all those     who were around Him.  Likewise, He cares for us now as well.

                              Miracles of Jesus

    The table below lists many of Jesus' miricles found in the Gospels.

Nature Miracle                      | Matthew | Mark    | Luke    | John ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Turning water into wine              |        |        |        | 2:1-11 Feeding of five thousand            | 14:15-21| 6:35-44 | 9:12-17 | 6:5-15 Walking on the sea                  | 14:22-33| 6:45-52 |        | 6:16-21 Providing tax money in fish's mouth  | 17:24-27|        |        |      Feed of four thousand                | 15:32-39| 8:1-9  |        |      Withering of fig tree                | 21:17-22| 11:12-14|        |      First catch of fish                  |        | 5:1-11  |        |      Second catch of fish                |        |        |        | 21:1-14 ---------------------------------------------------------------------------- Healing Miracle                      | Matthew | Mark    | Luke    | John  Healing of nobleman's son at Cana    |        |        |        | 4:46-54 Restoring sight of blind man at      |        |        |        |      Bethsaida                            |        | 8:22-26 |        |      Restoring sight of man born blind    |        |        |        | 9:1-41 Raising of Lazarus                  |        |        |        | 11:1-45 Curing of demon-possessed man (men)  | 8:28-34 | 5:1-20  | 8:26-39 |      Raising of Jairus's daughter        | 9:18-26 | 5:22-24,| 8:41-42,|                                          |        |  35-43 |  49-56 |      Healing of invalid at Bethesda      |        |        |        | 5:1-18 Curing of woman with twelve-year    |        |        |        |        bleeding                          | 9:20-22 | 5:25-34 | 8:43-48 |      Restoring of paralytic at Capernaum  | 9:1-8  | 2:1-12  | 5:17-26 |      Curing of leper near Gennesaret      | 8:1-4  | 1:40-45 | 5:12-15 |      Healing of Peter's mother-in-law    | 8:14-17 | 1:29-31 | 4:38-39 |      Restoring of withered hand          | 12:9-14 | 3:1-6  | 6:6-11  |      Healing of child with demon          | 17:14-20| 9:14-29 | 9:37-43 |      Restoring blind and dumb demoniac    | 12:22  |        | 11:14  |      Giving sight to two blind men        | 9:27-31 |        |        |      Healing of dumb demoniac            | 9:32-34 |        |        |      Healing of deaf-mute                |        | 7:1-37  |        |      Restoring sight to blind Bartimaeus  | 20:29-34| 10:46-52| 18:35-43|      Healing Syro-Phoenician girl        | 15:21-28| 7:24-30 |        |      Healing centurion's servant          | 8:5-13  |        | 7:1-10  |      Restoring demon-possessed man in    |        |        |        |        synagogue                        |        | 1:23-27 | 4:33-36 |      Raising son of widow of Nain        |        |        | 7:11-16 |      Restoring woman crippled for        |        |        |        |        eighteen years                    |        |        | 13:10-17|      Healing a man with dropsy            |        |        | 14:1-6  |      Healing ten men with leprosy        |        |        | 17:11-19|      Restoring of Malchus's ear          |        |        | 22:49-51|18:10-11                                     (23)         After about three years of public ministry Jesus went to Jerusalem     to celebrate the Passover.  He was received by cheering crowds.  Many     expected Him to form a new government and throw out the Romans.  When     he told them that His kingdom was not of this world they became     disillusioned.  At the same time those who had a vested interest in     maintaining the status quo began to plot in earnest to kill Him.

                    The death and resurrection of Christ

        The event of Christ's death is central to the Christian church and     faith.  Jesus death on the cross is both the foundation of our     salvation and a powerful example of obedience and love. The     resurrection of Jesus after His death on the cross is the single most     important event in history.  It proclaimed not just His victory over     death, but ours also.  We will devote chapter 5 to the study of     Christ's death and resurrection.

                      The present activity of Christ.

        What do we know about the present activities of Christ?  First we     know that all authority on heaven and earth has been given to Christ     (Matt 28:18).  This means that Jesus is the active sustainer of the     universe.  You can thank Him that everything doesn't just fly into     bits.  As the active force in creation, He willed the universe into     existence.  Now the force of His will keeps the natural laws which we     call physics, chemistry, and biology etc in effect.

        Secondly, Jesus is the head of His Church (Eph 1:22, Col 1:18).     The Church is the body of Christ because all saved persons are saved     into Christ.  In John 16:13 we are told that the Spirit teaches what He     hears.  The Spirit is present in heaven before Christ to hear the many     things Christ has yet to tell us (John 16:12-15).  Christ has the power     to take us the many and form us into one body of many members, the     Church.

        Thirdly, Jesus is the giver of Spiritual gifts through the     ministry of the Holy Spirit.  Christ has both called and equipped us     for the service of the Church and worship of Him.  While some gifts are     universal in nature some are given only to certain people (Rom 12:3-8,     I Cor 12:4-11).  Christ has a plan for each one of us according to His     purpose (Phil 2:13, Eph 2:10, Jn 10:10).  We should not reject what God     has given us the ability to do.  We need to recognize that often the     reasons for the way He has equipped us us not apparent to us.

     

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