(by Charles Stanley, Crosswalk.com) – What difference does it make who Jesus is? He lived 2,000 years ago, so how could that matter today? The truth is, knowing who Jesus is can mold your character, impact your belief system, and change your lifestyle. And more than that, it will determine your eternal destiny.
One of the best ways to understand someone is to find out what he thinks about himself. Jesus said many, many things about who He was – He said that He is the Son of God (Matthew 16:16-17), that He and the Father are one (John 10:30), and that the Father is the One who sent Him. (John 5:37) He also announced that He did not come to be served, but to serve and that He came to give His life as a ransom for many (Matthew 20:28) – He came as a substitute payment in behalf of humanity. He agreed with His accusers when they called Him “King of the Jews.” His “I am” statements from the book of John reveal that He claimed to be the Good Shepherd who loves the sheep (John 10:11), the Bread of Life who can prevent hunger (John 6:48), and the True Vine who abides in us as we abide in Him. (John 15:1)
Jesus also said He was the Door to Heaven (John 10:9), and in John 14:6, He expanded on that thought: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but though Me.” That statement has caused many people to back away, thinking, “What a bigoted, egotistical statement! How narrow-minded to think that the only way to Heaven is through the person of Jesus Christ.” And yet, this man called Jesus is exactly who He says He is. He is the Good Shepherd. He is the Bread of Life. He’s the way, the truth, and the very life itself….
Now, if you believe all the other things Jesus said, but decide He can’t be the only way to Heaven, then you are saying He told partial truths or lies. You can’t have it both ways. Either Jesus is who He says He is, or He is not. So you cannot say, “Jesus is a good man, a wonderful teacher, an effective preacher, a great healer, philosopher, and humanitarian, BUT…” Whenever your belief in Christ’s validity has caveats, you make Him a liar. When it comes to all that He said about Himself, either He is a counterfeit and a fraud, or He is exactly who He says He is – the eternal Son of the living God, the Savior of the world, and the One who will some day judge each one of us.
And of course, to find out who Jesus really is, we have to look at His death. From the biblical accounts, it is obvious this was no ordinary death. His crucifixion was plotted by the religious leaders – the same men who had exaggerated the requirements of the Mosaic law and then coerced the people to obey in minute, burdensome detail. These same men were jealous of Jesus because their position of authority was threatened by His popularity with the crowds. So, in spite of the fact that they enforced the Law with others, these men were so ungodly that they were willing to lay aside one of the most basic principles in Scripture: “You shall not murder” (Exodus 20:13). They were committed and determined, at all cost, to kill this man Jesus. They felt so threatened by Him that they were totally blinded to the truth of who He was.
The death of Jesus was plotted by those who hated Him. And it was performed by Roman soldiers, a group that had no earthly idea what they were doing. They crucified two thieves, between whom they crucified the living God, clothed in human flesh, the sinless One born of a virgin, who began His ministry in the power of the Holy Spirit. He never harmed anyone. He never rebelled against the government. He never violated the law. It was a death He in no way deserved, and therefore, it looked like a vicious plot and a tragedy. But remember what Jesus said? – that He came to do His father’s will and to give His life as a ransom for many. So why was He dying? Because, together with the Lord Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, God the Father had planned His death before the world ever began, knowing that man would sin against Him and be hopeless and helpless to save himself.
On the cross, it was not simply a man dying; it was an…eternal scene in which God the Father placed upon His Son the sin-debt of all mankind, past, present, and future. And then God unleashed the full force of His wrath to punish Jesus – instead of you and me.
There is one more aspect to investigate if we really want to know who the man Jesus Christ is – we have to go beyond His death. That is not possible to do with anyone else, of course, but because Jesus is the Son of God and the living God, He did exactly what He had promised: He rose from the dead. Even His disciples were shocked, though He had told them ahead of time. With His resurrection, Jesus settled once and for all that there is life after death, not just for Himself, but for all who believe on Him. (John 11:25-26) His resurrection also proves that everything He ever said is true.
Jesus said He is coming back. Can we believe that? Yes, because the Bible says so, and also because all the other promises Jesus made that could possibly be fulfilled in His lifetime came to pass exactly as He had said.
Knowing the truth of who Jesus is means you are confronted with a decision: Will you believe the testimony of the Scriptures and receive Him? Or will you turn your back on truth and walk away to face a hopeless eternity? Next time you see a manger scene, remember who’s lying there – His life, His death, His words about Himself, and His resurrection. Jesus is not just a baby; He the Son of God, sitting at the Father’s right hand, with all the sovereign power of the universe, and with the offer of eternal life to anyone who believes on Him.
Posted at Crosswalk.com on July 7, 2006. Reprinted here on December 15, 2011 for educational purposes only.
1. What do you think is the main idea of Charles Stanley’s commentary?
2. The Hebrew prophet Isaiah said: “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given, and the government will be upon his shoulders, and his name shall be called wonderful, counselor, mighty God, the everlasting father, the Prince of Peace.” (Isaiah 9:6)
Do you think Isaiah was prophesying about Jesus? Explain your answer.