"No one ever spoke the way this man does."
- John 7:46
Who is Jesus?
It's a good question to ask. Jesus is the most adored, most critiqued, most studied, most interesting, most divisive figure in all of history. Who is Jesus? is the most important question anyone could ask.
In the Bible, four books called "Gospels" (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) tell the story of Jesus. He is described as a relatively unknown, average person from an insignificant town called Nazareth. By all accounts, Jesus did not amount to much in terms of worldly success. His earthly parents were uneducated and of humble means. As an adult, Jesus was jobless, homeless, and spent his time wandering around Israel with twelve men called disciples.
So why is Jesus the most famous person in history? Simply, because of the claims he made and what he came to do.
The Beginning of the Story
The beginning of Jesus' story goes all the way back to the beginning of the world, as told in a book called Genesis (which means "beginnings"). Genesis tells us that God made the world to be a perfect home for humanity to exist in unhindered relationship with him. It did not take long, however, for Adam and Eve, the first humans, to break their relationship with God by choosing to disobey him. Since that fateful day, humanity and all of creation has been cursed by sin and fraught with degradation and death.
This is, to be sure, very bad news. Only God himself could fix this. Thousands of years later, Jesus enters the scene.
No Mere Man
According to the Scriptures, when Jesus walked the earth he seemed ordinary in the eyes of the world. Yet he was anything but ordinary. He turned water into wine, healed the sick, gave sight to the blind, raised the dead, cast out demons, and spoke with an authority unlike anyone else. He rejected the religious establishment of his day and he ate with prostitutes and corrupt businessmen.
Surely, this was no mere man. Indeed, Jesus was God's very own Son. He was the God-in-the-flesh man, the One who would bridge the gap between God and humanity caused by sin. The Scriptures tell us that he perfectly kept God's commands. He came to "fulfill [God's] law" (Matt. 5:17). He never disobeyed like Adam and Eve (or us). He was the only innocent man to ever live.
Yet, in his early 30s, his life was cut short. He was betrayed by one of his own disciples, arrested at night, denied a fair trial, mocked, scourged, and publicly crucified as an enemy of the Roman government. How could this happen?!
Why Did Jesus Die?
Jesus' death was not ultimately planned by people. It was planned by God (Isa. 53:10; Acts 4:27-28). Why in the world would God put his own Son to death? Because he knew what it would accomplish. Every individual human being has rebelled against God, belittling and rejecting him, though he deserves infinite love and worship. Therefore, we deserve to be punished forever.
But because of his great love for us, God sent Jesus to take our place. Jesus lived the life we should have lived and died the death we deserved to die. And what's more--he rose from the dead, conquering sin, death, and Satan. This story, this news, is what Christians call the gospel, the "good news" that there is a way to escape God's judgment and be reconciled to him. Jesus--the most famous person in all of history--is that way. Because of what he did, God can offer us forgiveness and not compromise his justice (Rom. 3:21-26). This is very good news indeed!
What Is Your Response?
Jesus said, "The kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe the gospel" (Mark 1:15). To repent means turning from trusting in yourself or other things to find forgiveness, safety, and hope. Believing the gospel means trusting that what Jesus did for you in his perfect life and sacrificial death on your behalf is enough to forgive your sins, make you new, and bring you into relationship with the God who made you.
If you read all this and want to know Jesus, you don't need a fancy prayer or religious ritual. You don't need a pastor. You don't need to have a perfect life or a special feeling inside. All you need to do is something that isn't really doing at all: trust him. And if you trust Jesus, God gives you the precious right to become his child (John 1:12-13).
There's so much more to Jesus than what we can fit on a web page. If you want to hear more about what it means to know him, we would love to talk to you. Not because we have all the answers, but because we believe what was written about him and we have experienced his transformation firsthand. If you want to talk more, please email us or call 518-877-3314.