What The Bible Says About Christ
Recently LIFE MAGAZINE carried an article dealing with the question, "Who Was Jesus?" Let me share with you a few excerpts from that article.
Jon Murray, president of American Atheists said, "There was no such person in the history of the world as Jesus Christ. There was no historical, living, breathing human being by that name. Ever. [The Bible] is a fictional book, non historical narrative. The myth is good for business."
Susan Haskins (author of Mary Magdalene; Myth and Metaphor.) said: "He was a feminist. He cured ill women, allowed them to become people who related his truths, forgave a repentant prostitute, allowed her to touch him. Women gave their money to support him. Mary Magdalene was the first to witness the Resurrection -- what is more important than that, in Christianity? She was an apostle to the apostles, told by Christ to go tell them he had risen. There should be a role for women to preach and teach today -- a role too often denied."
Regarding His resurrection, Barbara Thiering (Dead Sea Scrolls interpreter and author of Jesus, The Apocalypse) said: It's in the scrolls if you really study the codes: It was not a resurrection. He was put on the cross. Those within his own party, trying to help him commit suicide, gave him poison -- the sponge dipped in vinegar. He was unconscious but not dead. His side was pierced, blood came out. A dead body does not bleed, so his followers knew he was not dead. They put him in a cave. He lived until his seventies, and it was he -- Jesus acting behind Paul -- who led their party out of Judaism and to Rome. He married Mary Magdalene and had four children."
I will be honest with you friends, I do not remember ever reading anything more ridiculous as these statements about Jesus Christ. Obviously these writers have no respect at all for the Bible even as an accurate historical document. Instead of going to the Bible to learn the truth, they have twisted it to suit themselves. While I may have an interest in what others may have written about Jesus Christ, I am more interested in what the inspired word of God records for us. So let's spend our time considering what the inspired record has to say about this One called Jesus Christ.
Who Do Men Say That I Am?
There was a time in Jesus' life here on earth that Jesus posed an interesting question to His disciples, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?" (Matthew 16:13b). Jesus' disciples were very candid with Him in their response concerning what they had heard others say about Him. "And they said, 'Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.'" While that is certainly an interesting collection of personalities that some men associated Jesus of Nazareth with, it is Jesus' second question that really gets to the core of the matter. "He said to them, 'But who do you say that I am?' And Simon Peter answered and said, 'You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus answered and said to him, 'Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.'" (Matthew 16:15-17). Exactly what was it that the Father in heaven had revealed about Christ? And precisely how did the Father make it known?
Christ In Prophecy
First we have the voice of the prophet Isaiah writing some seven hundred years before the days and events of the first century. Notice with me a few things that the inspired writer Isaiah wrote. First consider his inspired words in Isaiah 7:14, "Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and shall call His name Immanuel." Next in Isaiah 9:6-7 he went on to say, "For unto us a child is born, Unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this." Obviously the New Testament passages that correspond to these words of Isaiah are abundant. In examining some of those NT verses, we find acceptance and fulfillment of Isaiah's prophetic words. Consider these passages and notice how the wording corresponds with Isaiah's words. (Cf. Matthew 1:23; 28:18; Luke 1:27-33; John 1:45; 7:42; 1 Corinthians 15:25-28; Titus 2:13; Revelation 12:5).
Words And Phrases Defined
Any frequent reader of the NT has already recognized that there are many names, words and phrases that the writers use to refer to Christ. Of course in the definition of these there are many things to be said about Him. First is His designated name from the prophecy that we have just observed in Isaiah and the angel's repeating of that name in the early books of the NT when his birth is being announced to the virgin and her soon to be husband. His name will be called "Jesus, the Son of the most Highest and Immanuel," (Cf. Matt. 1:23; Lk. 1:31-32). Christ means the anointed one, i.e., the Messiah. Immanuel is defined in the verses where
it is found as literally "God with us." On a number of occasions in the NT whenever Jesus referred to himself as God's Son the Jews correctly recognized that in doing so He put himself on an equal plane with the Father, i.e., Deity, God. The writer John would add to this in John 1:1-2, 14, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth."
Whenever the Bible speaks of being God, or being a member of the Godhood, it speaks in terms of One's Divine nature. There are three specific Bible passages that I have in mind at this time, (Cf. Acts 17:29; Romans 1:20; Colossians 2:9). Paul in Colossians 2:9 says concerning Christ, "For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." When you speak of Jesus' Divine nature you are talking about who and what He is, i.e., His very essence. While one may change his personality or appearance, one does not change who or what his is nature is. When Jesus emptied Himself (Cf. Philippians 2:7), He did not divest himself of His
nature for that would have been impossible to do.
His Deity remained while He took upon himself human flesh. This was clearly evident in a number of different ways, but especially in the fact that He accepted worship (only God is to be worshiped), and He demonstrated His power to forgive sins (Mk. 2:5, 7), again something that only God can do.
Christ Our Savior
Probably one of the more important revelations about Jesus Christ that is given is the fact that He is our Savior and actually of the world (Cf. John 4:42). Jesus even said of himself, "I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives His life for the sheep" (John 10:11). Paul further explains that it is in Christ Jesus that we experience, "redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our sins" (Cf. Colossians 1:14; Ephesians 1:7). In another place Paul says concerning Christ that He has "abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel" (2 Timothy 1:10). But let the reader of this please understand that even though He is indeed the Savior of the world, He remains the "author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Hebrews 5:9).
Christ was prophesied of, He was born of a virgin, lived as a man for some thirty-three years, performed numerous wonders, signs and miracles for literally thousands to see, taught great truths to a multitude, He was mistreated, rejected and denied, He was crucified on a tree, He shed his precious blood, was buried in a tomb, arose from the grave the third day according to the Scriptures, returned to the Father and now sits at His right-hand ruling (present tense) over His appointed Kingdom. And at the appointed day He will return in the clouds to judge the world according to His word (Cf. John 12:48-49).
By Randy Reynolds
From Expository Files 2.2; February, 1995