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The Christian Counter

     
WHO IS JESUS CHRIST?
Lesson 25

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The Bible and Holy Spirit Agree

The Bible uniquely reveals information about Jesus that cannot be found in any other place. Yet, the Bible is incomplete. John says an infinite and omnipotent Jesus cannot be adequately described on paper. (John 21:25) Knowing about Jesus is not the same as personally knowing Jesus. There may be hundreds of millions of people who claim to be a Christian, but a loyal follower of Jesus is known by love and obedience to God and by love for each neighbor. (Matthew 22:37-40; John 13:35) To help us understand what the Godhead is all about, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to help us. Jesus said, “But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking what is mine and making it known to you.” (John 16:13-14)

If it takes time and experience to understand what a friend is really like, you can understand why it might take a very long time and many diverse experiences to grasp what Jesus is like. For this reason, the historical record in the Bible covers a period of about 4,000 years. If we study the whole Bible, we can get a good picture of what Jesus is really like. In the Old Testament, Jesus says, “I the Lord do not change.” (Malachi 3:6)

In the New Testament Paul wrote, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) The nice thing about studying 4,000 years of Jesus’ behavior is that the Bible presents many separate situations and issues. By thoughtfully examining a range of events and experiences, we begin to understand how Jesus deals with human beings. Far too many people make the mistake of defining Jesus with a small sample of His words or actions. Jesus does not live in our dimension or operate on our timescale. If we limit our research about Jesus to the four gospels or the book of Psalms, we will not understand all that Jesus is. We must examine every book in the Bible.

Eternal God revealed in Old and New Testaments

The Old and New Testaments are inspired by the same Holy Spirit, have the same authority and reveal the same Jesus! Pay close attention to what John says about Jesus. “{1} In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. {2} He was with God in the beginning. {3} Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. {4} In him was life, and that life was the light of men…{10} He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. {11} He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him. {12} Yet to all that received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God – {13} children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God. {14} The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:1-14)

Theses verses contain profound information. If you reread the verses in reverse order, you will discover some interesting things about Jesus. For example, many people are confused about the title “God” as it relates to Jesus in verse one. How can “the Word be God?” Think of “God” as a last name: Father God, Son God, and Holy Spirit God. These three entities have the same last name because they are equal in every way, but they each have different roles. (Matthew 28:19; John 15:26; 16:5-11; 17; 1-5.) In this light, John 1 reveals that Jesus was God and He was a part of the Godhead from the beginning.

After reading John 1:14, you may ask, “Why is Jesus called the Word in verse one?” In simple terms this title says volumes about Jesus as the creative agent of the Godhead. The Psalmist says, “For He {Jesus} spoke, and it came to be; he commanded, and it stood firm.” (Psalms 33:9, insertion mine.) If the person who baked the cake is called “the baker,” and the person who performed the surgery is called “the surgeon, “ then the One, who through the breath of His mouth spoke the world into existence, should be called “the Word.” The disciples were amazed at the power of His words. He calmed a terrifying storm on the Sea of Galilee by speaking the word! (Mark 4:39)

Jesus is God just like the Father

The idea that Jesus is equal in every way to God the Father may be hard to grasp at first, but it is true. Jesus has all the power, authority and glory the Father does. Jesus is not a lesser God. Somehow the title “Son of God” seems to make Jesus a lesser God in some people’s minds, but this is not the case. I will explain later how the title “Son of God” refers to the state of submission that Jesus entered to save man. Jesus has existed forever. He was not created. Just like the Father and Holy Spirit, Jesus is an eternal member of the Godhead. Jesus is as worthy of honor and worship as is the Father! (John 5:23) Paul wrote, “for in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form…who is head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9,10) In Revelation Jesus said to John, “I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is, and who was, and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8) Remember, this same John wrote, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:1-3) Peter wrote, “He {Jesus} was chosen {as the one who would die for man} before the creation of the world, but was revealed in these last times for your sake.” (1 Peter 1:20, insertion mine.)

In the Old Testament, Isaiah quotes Jesus saying, “Listen to me, O Jacob, Israel, whom I have called: I am he; I am the first and I am the last. My own hand laid the foundations of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I summon them, they all stand up together…This is what the Lord says – your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel; I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.” (Isaiah 48: 12,13,16,17) Near the end of Job’s suffering and distress, Jesus revealed just how little Job and his friends knew about His purposes. Jesus said, “Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundations? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! Who stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid its cornerstone – while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4-7)

For some readers it may be hard to grasp that it was actually Jesus who said to Abraham, “…I am God Almighty; walk before me and be blameless.” (Genesis 17:1) When the Jews argued with Jesus about His claim that He was greater than Abraham, Jesus responded, “Your father Abraham rejoiced at the thought of seeing my day; he saw it {in vision} and was glad.” {The Jews sneered,}”You are not yet fifty years old… and you have seen Abraham! ‘I tell you the truth,’ Jesus answered, ‘before Abraham was born, I am! “ (John 8: 56-58, insertion mine.)

Old Testament writers were well acquainted with Jesus even though they did not know Him by the name “Jesus.” The writer of Hebrews stated that “He {Moses) regarded disgrace for the sake of Christ as of greater value than the treasures of Egypt, because he was looking ahead to his reward.” (Hebrews 11:26, insertion mine.) How did Moses know Christ before Christ was born? John knew that Jesus had revealed His glory to Isaiah 700 years before Jesus was born. John wrote, “Isaiah said this because he saw Jesus’ glory and spoke about him.” (John 12:41) How did Isaiah know about Jesus before He was born? When Jesus was upon Earth, notice what He said about Himself by repeating Isaiah’s words: “He {Jesus} replied, ‘Isaiah was right when he prophesied about you hypocrites; as it is written: “’These people honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. They worship me in vain; their teachings are but rules taught by men.’ You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to the traditions of men.” (Mark 7:6-8, insertion mine.) When Jesus began to select His disciples, Phillip excitedly ran to Nathaniel and said, “…We have found the one Moses wrote about in the Law, and about whom the prophets also wrote – Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” (John 1:45) What do these verses confirm? Jesus lived in Heaven before He was born to Mary. Obviously, He did not go by the name Jesus before His birth, but all the Old Testament prophets knew Him as God Almighty or Jehovah God. (Exodus 6:3) Enoch, Job, Noah, Abraham and Moses even talked with Him. Jesus is fully God and the creative agent of the Godhead. Jesus does so much! He is so much!

Mary Told to Call Him Jesus

Here is a point to consider. The angel instructed Mary to call her child by the name “Jesus.” (Matthew 1:21) In other words, Mary and Joseph could not have chosen the name of the Messiah. It is my opinion that the loss of this privilege gently imposed Heaven’s higher ownership of this baby boy. In ancient times, the mother usually had the privilege of naming her offspring at birth. (Genesis 29: 32-35; 30:6-13; 1 Samuel 4:21) This privilege was suspended for both Elizabeth and Mary (mothers of John the Baptist and Jesus) because these sons were not to be under the dominion of their respective mothers. Like the prophet Jeremiah, the Holy Spirit set them apart from birth. (Luke 1:15,35; Jeremiah 1:5) 

The Bible is very clear that Jesus lived in Heaven before He created the world. Jesus was not called by His earthy name though, until He was born to Mary. It makes sense then that we do not find Jesus called by His earthy name in the Old Testament. Remember, more than 90% of the references to God in the Old Testament are references to the person we now call Jesus! For example, in Gethsemane Jesus prayed to the Father saying: “And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.” (John 17:5) Clearly, Jesus shared glory with the Father before the world was created. On one occasion, Jesus revealed where He had come from: For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all that he has given me, but raise them up at the last day.” (John 6:38,39) On one occasion, Jesus told the Pharisees that the Old Testament specifically focused on Him: “And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. {The Father spoke at the baptism of Jesus saying, ‘This is my Son…’} You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by {knowing} them you possess eternal life. {But} These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.” (John 5:37-40, insertion mine.) Remember, the “Scriptures” at the time of Jesus were the books we now call the Old Testament. (Luke 24:27) Jesus’ remarks confirm that the Old Testament is a testimony about Himself.

Progressive Revelation 

The truth about Jesus is continually unfolding. In fact, the last book in the Bible is appropriately called “The Revelation of Jesus Christ” because it describes how Jesus will be revealed to the world at the end of time. Our knowledge about Jesus is based on progressive revelation. In other words, the revealing of all that Jesus is- has been progressively unfolding over thousands of years. Early prophets did not know as much about Jesus as people who came later. Each succeeding prophet stood on the shoulders of the earlier prophet, providing a more complete picture of Jesus and His work. Notice one instance of this progression in the Bible: “God (Jesus} also said to Moses, ‘I am Lord {Jehovah}. I appeared to Abraham to Isaac and to Jacob as God Almighty {El-Shaddai}, but by my name the Lord {Jehovah} I did not myself known to them.’” (Exodus 6:2-3, insertion mine.) This text presents a bit of a problem because Abraham and Jacob knew about God’s Hebrew name Jehovah. Notice these two texts: “And he {Jehovah} said unto him {Abraham}, I am the Lord {Jehovah} that brought thee out of UR of the Chaldees, to give thee this land to inherit it.” (Genesis 15:7 KJV, insertion mine.) Later, God spoke to Jacob in a vision as he was fleeing from his brother Esau: “And, behold, the Lord {Jehovah} stood above it {the ladder reaching to earth}, and said, I am the Lord {Jehovah} God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed…(Genesis 28:13, KJV, insertion mine.) These two texts, as well as Genesis 22:14, indicate that Abraham and Jacob knew of the name Jehovah. So, what did Jesus mean when He said to Moses, “by my name the Lord {Jehovah} I did not make myself known to them.” I understand Jesus to mean that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob did not understand the meaning of His name Jehovah. In ancient times, Hebrew names were carefully selected to describe character, emotions, or an event at the time of birth. In this sense, although Abraham and Jacob knew the title “Jehovah,” they could not understand that the awesome meaning of the name would not be revealed until the time of the Exodus.

At the time of the Exodus, Jehovah (Jesus) performed a series of astonishing miracles. These miracles established the Hebrews as a nation under His sovereign leadership. Jehovah sent Moses and Aaron to speak to Pharaoh. Jehovah sent ten plagues on Egypt, both man and beast. Jehovah destroyed Pharaoh and his army in the Red Sea. At this time, the Deliverer of Israel began to identify Himself with the Hebrew name Jehovah. Jesus did this so that all nations would know the King of the Jews was Jehovah God. About 1,400 years later, Jehovah was born to Mary and He died on the cross with the title written above His head: “The King of the Jews.” (John 19:19-21)

Sacred Name

Some Christians today insist that Jesus must be called by a Hebrew name such as “Yashua,” “Yehoshua,” “Jehovah,” Yahweh,”ect. I find these claims to have no merit. From secular history and Bible history, we know that the name “Jesus” was a common Jewish name used at the time of Christ’s birth. (Acts 13:6; Colossians 4:11) If it is inappropriate to call Jesus by His given name, why was Mary required to give her son the name “Jesus”? The basis for insisting on one sacred name for Jesus stems from Jewish superstition. The Jewish people became so superstitious about God that they refused to speak or even write the names “Yahweh” and “Jehovah.” Actually, one name is no more sacred than any other title or name that God uses. It is God Himself who makes a name and title holy, not a specific name that makes Him holy. Regardless of the name or title you may find in the Bible to identify Jesus, we should never use any of His names or titles carelessly. (Exodus 20:7). One of the highest and most exalted titles given in the Bible for God is “Father” and Jesus instructs us to address the Ruler of the Universe with the endearing title, “Our Father.” (Matthew 6:9) Furthermore, because “Father” is an exalted title for God, Jesus forbids anyone from calling a clergyman, “Father.” (Matthew 23:9)

So, Who is Jesus?

Jesus is all of the following:

Jesus is Jehovah God. (Exodus 6:3)

Jesus is the Lord thy God. (Isaiah 48)

Jesus is the King of kings and Lord of lords. (Revelation 19:16)

Jesus is the Angel of the Lord. (Genesis 22:11-18; Exodus 3:2-6; Judges 2:1-5)

Jesus is the Creator of Earth. (Exodus 20:8-11; Colossians 1:16; John 1:10; Hebrews 1:1,2)

Jesus is our Redeemer. (Isaiah 48; Ephesians 1:7)

Jesus is our Friend. (John 15:13-15)

Memory Verse – John 14:1-4

Jesus said to His disciples, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God; trust also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.

1.      Do you think our trust in the Father should be any different from our trust in Jesus?

2.      Please give about three examples of who Jesus is?

3.      When the Bible talks about Jesus being the Word, what does that mean?

4.      Down through the centuries of time, does Jesus remain consistent the way He deals with mankind?  Yes or No! Give an example.  

Notes:







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