Who Is Jesus Christ?

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In a week away, we will be celebrating Christmas; a day Christians commemorate the birth of Jesus. Christians are divided on whether to celebrate Christmas or not. The debate ranges from whether He was born on 25th December and also of the pagan origins of Christmas. Inspite of these many disagreements , however, one point of agreement between believers is that Jesus did live as a historical figure–He was born. To answer the question who is Jesus Christ? we must admit there are a phletora of opinions about who Jesus is and those opinions can be right or wrong. R.C Sproul, in the The Ligonier Statement on Christology, opens with these words: “Nearly every adult person has formed some opinion of Jesus. These opinions may be superficial, uninformed, or downright heretical. The truth about Jesus, not mere opinion, matters…and it matters eternally”.

Who Is Jesus?

I will here turn to John Chapter One to address the person of Jesus. The book of John as a gospel differs in many ways from the synoptic gospel . John’s gospel relates to us the life, teachings and miracles of Jesus—and people’s response; just as the other gospels. However, John does this with theological depths the other gospels didn’t. As you read through John’s gospel, you continuously see themes of Jesus’ divinity scattered all over the pages of his gospel though at the same time, He was fully human. J.C. Ryle rightly commented:

The Gospel of John… is in many respects very unlike the other three Gospels. It contains many things which they omit. It omits many things which they contain… The things which are peculiar to his Gospel are among the most precious possessions of the Church of Christ. No one of the four Gospel-writers has given us such full statements about the divinity of Christ — about justification by faith — about the offices of Christ — about the work of the Holy Spirit — and about the privileges of believers, believers, as we read in the pages of John. On none of these great subjects, undoubtedly, have Matthew, Mark, and Luke been silent. But in John’s Gospel, they stand out prominently on the surface, so that he who runs may read” [1]

The Testimony Of John’s Gospel About Jesus

He Is God

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God (vv.1-2).

Jesus didn’t begin to exist at a certain period in history. Neither was He created. Christ is eternal. He transcends time and history. John designates Christ as the Word in his opening statements: “In the beginning was the Word…” (vv.1-2). This speaks of the pre-existence of Christ before Creation. “In the beginning [He] was….” Before creation, Christ existed: “…he is before all things…”(Colossians 1:17 see also John 8:56-57). Now, John doesn’t only tell us of the eternal and pre-existence of Christ. He also spoke of the divinity of Christ–Christ is God: “…the Word was God”(v.1). This clearly speaks of the divinity of Christ. He is God. In Christ the words  “Immanuel” (which means, God with us) (Matthew 1:23) is fulfilled. Again in John 8:57, Jesus used the title by which God revealed Himself to Moses in the burning bush–I Am: “before Abraham was, I am.” “”Here Jesus declared Himself to be Yahweh, i.e., the Lord of the OT. [2]

He Is The Second Person Of The Trinity (Son of God).

…and the Word was with God (v.1a).

In John 1:1, we notice Jesus was not alone. The word was with ‘Somebody’ and that person we are told was God. Further, we are told Jesus shares attributes with that person, i.e., He Jesus was God. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This is the heart of the great historic doctrine of the Trinity [3]. Scripture reveals God to us as One being in three persons; God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit: “Within the one Being that is God, there exists eternally three coequal and coeternal persons, namely, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit”. [4] In Matthew 3:16-17, we see a full revelation of the Trinity when Jesus was baptised. We are told the Holy Spirit descended on Him like a dove with a Voice from heaven saying this is my beloved Son. Clearly, the eternal union of God the Father with God the Son is captured in the words: “He was in the beginning with God” (v.2). In John 17:5, Christ spoke of the glory He had with the Father before the world existed.

He Is The Creator

All things were made through him…(v.3a).

All of Creation owes its existence to Christ: “…without him was not anything made that was made (v. 3b)” He is the King of kings and Lord of Lord’s over all of life. Nothing exists outside of the creative work of Christ: “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things were created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). When we trace our path back to the beginning of the Bible, we are told “In the beginning God created…”. Looking at this in light of John’s words, we see Christ as the Creator.

He Is Life And Light Of The World

In him was life and the life was the light of men (v.4).

As the Creator, all lives take their source from Christ. Without Christ, no one has life. Paul says in Acts 17:28 that “In him we live and move and have our being”. This depicts Christ as the Sustainer of all lives. “He upholds the universe by the word of his power” (Hebrews 1:3). Christ is both the natural source of life and the spiritual source. Spiritually, all human beings, without a saving knowledge of Christ are in darkness, that is, living in sin and separated from God. This interprets to mean they are dead without light. But Christ gives life which dispels darkness and brings light into the life of anyone who comes to Him in faith.

In v.10, we are told “He was in the the world, and the world was made through him, yet the world did not know him” (v.10). The question is, “Why”?  It is because the world is dead spiritually and separated from God. Paul says in 1Corinthians 2:14 that “The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned”. To know Christ and receive Him requires a spiritual work. One has to be regenerated by the spirit to come in faith. When this happens, we are brought into God’s family by faith in Christ: “But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God” (vv.12-13).

He Is The God-Man

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (v.14).

Core to Christian beliefs is the virgin birth of Christ. He “was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary” Perhaps, done of the most contested doctrine of Christianity is the nature of Christ —his divinity and humanity ‘fused’ together in One person called–hypostatic union (see also Historic Heresies Relating To The Nature of Jesus). Jesus is fully God and fully human. God took on human flesh in Jesus Christ. He became the God-man among His creation: He “dwelt among us”. He became man and lived among His own people (1John 1:1-2).

God walked among humanity in Christ and manifested His glory: “we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son” God’s glory—the radiance of His majesty and power was revealed through Christ. “The Son, the Word–who is eternally with the Father, face to face with him, gazing upon and enjoying the glory that emanates from him– has now become flesh in our fallen world”.[6]

When Jesus was born, we are told “an angel of the Lord appeared to [shepherds watching over their flocks by night], and the glory of the Lord shone around them” (Luke 2:9).

Jesus is superior over all others and the book of Hebrews describes Him as “…the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature”(Hebrews 1:3). In His glory, Christ reveals to us “grace and truth”. His coming to earth was to show us the grace of God towards humanity and lead us into the truth of God’s word.

He Is The Lamb Of God

Behold, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!(v.29).

Here is one of the most important truths to know about Christ. He is the Lamb of God. The Jewish reader will immediately understand what John The Baptist was saying when he described Christ as the Lamb of God. In Old Testament rituals, the Lamb without blemish was used to atone temporarily, for the sins of God’s people (Exodus 12:3, Leviticus 3:7). Now the rituals of the Old Testament pointed to a better sacrifice for sins because as the Hebrew writer will say: “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). The efficacy in the blood of bulls and goats was powerless to do away with sin once and for all. But Christ, “the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!”(John 1:29) offered an acceptable sacrifice to God for the atonement of sin once for all (Hebrews 10:10). Christ is God’s acceptable sacrifice for sin.

He Baptises With The Holy Spirit

So far, our attention has been on the relationship between God the Father and God the Son. But all of God’s revelation of Himself is Trinitarian. So here in John 1, John doesn’t leave us without telling us of the Holy Spirit through the words of John the Baptist: “…He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit” ( John 1:33). Jesus baptises us with the Holy Spirit. This means, when we come to faith in Him, He gives us the gift promised by the Father. Without the Holy Spirit, no one can be a believer (Romans 8:9). And the Holy Spirit joins us in union with the Godhead.

These are not exhaustive statements about Christ. But I believe these are basic stepping stones to an in-depth study of Christology–the doctrine of Christ.

Notes:

  1. J.C. Ryle’s Expository Thoughts on the Gospels (Kindle Edition).
  2. John MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible. Notes on John 8:58 (Thomas Nelson, Inc., 2006, Kindle Edition).
  3. John Piper, In The Beginning Was The Word (online article Read here).
  4. James R. White, The Forgotten Trinity, (Bethany House Publishers, 2012, Kindle Edition).
  5. Sinclair B. Ferguson, Child In The Manger (Edinburgh, Banner of Truth, 2016) Pg.35
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