No matter who we are we must find an answer to the ultimate question of life: “Who is Jesus?”
Why is this the ultimate question? Because Jesus made some extravagant claims about himself which, if true, can have a life-changing impact. And not just for individuals, but for nations, as history has shown.
When asked who Jesus is I come up with three answers that seem to me to be most important. If these things are true about Jesus then we must wrestle with what that means in our lives. Discovering who Jesus is is not simply an academic exercise. It is much more. So, allow me to give you my three answers and then three ways we must examine the claims of Christ if we want to see a radical change in our lives.
- Who is Jesus?
- He is the Son of God
- He is the Savior
- He is the Lord
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God (Matthew 27:43; Mark 5:7; John 10:36, 14:28). The Jewish leaders who heard him understood Jesus’ claim to mean that he was equal with God (John 5:18). This is an extraordinary claim, unequalled in the world’s religions. But for an extraordinary claim to be proven true, extraordinary evidence is required. Jesus produced that evidence through miraculous hearings never before seen, like the blind and the lame being instantly cured (Matthew 11:5; Luke 7:22; John 9:32, 10:38). His final proof of his identity came when he was raised from the dead (Acts 17:3,31; Romans 4:25).
If Jesus is the Son of God then certainly that means something significant. He means he is endowed with authority that no one else has. It means that if he requires something from us we would be foolish to ignore him or put him off. Indeed, he does require something from us, he requires something extraordinary from us. He requires that we believe in him (John 3:36; I John 3:23).
Jesus is our Savior (II Peter 2:20; John 1:29; I John 4:14). The term, savior, is a particularly Jewish concept. We’ve heard it so much in our modern day that we simply think of a savior as one who saves someone from something bad. But under the ancient Jewish context from which the term comes it means something much more. Savior refers to a blood sacrifice for sin. The terms has its root in the Old Testament passages that prescribe a system of animal sacrifices to atone for sin. By calling Jesus our savior we are effectively saying that he is the sacrifice for our sins. That is, in fact, precisely what the New Testament writers claimed (Romans 3:25, Hebrews 2:17; I John 2:2).
Jesus is the Lord (Romans 10:9; II Corinthians 4:5; Colossians 2:6; Hebrews 13:20; II Peter 1:2) . What does it mean to be Lord? It essentially means that he is a ruler, a king. But he is not just any king. Jesus is the king of kings, the king over all creation (I Timothy 6:15; Revelation 19:16). Jesus claimed lordship for himself after his resurrection when he told his disciples, “ALL authority on heaven and earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18).
If logically follows that if Jesus is lord, then he has authority to demand anything from us. To use a word from days of old we can say that Jesus is lord and we are his subjects.
Before I move on, stop for a moment and reflect about these three claims of Christ and what they mean. Jesus is the Son of God who has all authority. How did he exercise that authority? He died for our sin, becoming our savior and commands that we believe in him. These claims are extravagant, but his command is also very simple. Believe in him. If we refuse to believe in him then we deny his saving role, his lordship, and his deity.
Finding Personal Meaning In Jesus’ Claims
There are many people the world over and through history who have believed in these three claims of Christ, but his claims did not change their lives. That is because knowing who Jesus is is more than an intellectual exercise. Remember the words of James who said the “The demons believe and tremble” (James 2:19).
There are three areas of our lives in which we must come to a right understanding of who Jesus is. When we do this our lives begin to radically change. When we do this we will know and experience God’s love and forgiveness. These there areas are:
Intellectually—This means that we must get to know the claims of Jesus and information about his life, death, and resurrection. We must know what are sometimes called the “true facts” about Jesus. But caution is in order. A knowledge of Jesus is not enough. We need more than intellectual knowledge.
Emotionally—When we really discover what Jesus has done for us, suffering on the cross for the payment of our sin, we should be hit in the emotions. We should feel shame and guilt for our sin and what it drove God to do in order to save us. Discovering the truth about his resurrection should give us joy knowing that his death was not in vain and that through his resurrection we have an eternal hope. But even if we experience both an intellectual and emotional change, having strong feelings about Jesus is not enough.
Responsibly—Knowing and experiencing is not enough. It is what we do practically in the world around us that demonstrates that our intellectual and emotional change is a real spiritual experience. The person who calls himself a Christian and even uses flowery words to describe their faith, but do not openly live for him are not Christians in the right sense of the word. James said, “Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works” (James 2:18). The Apostle John said, “Whoever says, ‘I know him’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him: whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked” (I John 2:4-6).
Have you answered the ultimate question? Have you grappled with the abundance of evidence for who Jesus is? A true understanding of who Jesus is will transform a person. It will transform you.