Jesus has been acclaimed as the greatest religious leader who ever lived, as being the most influential person to have lived on our planet, and as being unique to the degree that no one can be compared to Him.
But considering Jesus Christ merely on the basis of an exemplary life and His superior moral teaching will not remove the stumbling blocks to Christianity raised by an unbelieving world. The real test of what one thinks of Him must revolve around who He claimed to be and what He accomplished during His brief mission to our planet. Our conclusion must be that there is no Christianity without Christ; all centers in Him.
The predominant theme of the Scriptures is the Person and the work of Jesus Christ. He is God. He became a human being, died by crucifixion, and was buried. He rose again from the dead. He is the only, all-sufficient Savior of the world. He will come again to this earth. Removing this from the Scriptures robs them of all coherent meaning and continuity.
Jesus Christ is God
Deity is the only explanation for all that He was and all that He did.
(1) He was pre-existent with the Father.
"He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. (John 1:2-3).
(Also see John 17:5 and Colossians 1:17)
(2) He is the Son of God.
- His enemies admitted: “He…called God his Father, thereby making himself equal with God.” (John 5:18).
- Peter confessed: “We believe, and we know you are the Holy One of God” (John 6:69).
- Jesus affirmed:
“The Father and I are one.” (John 10:30).
(3) He was sinless, as only God can be.
- Jesus challenged His enemies: “Which of you can truthfully accuse me of sin?” (John 8:46).
- Peter testified: “…just as Christ suffered for you. He is your example, and you must follow in his steps. He never sinned, nor ever deceived anyone” (1 Peter 2:21-22, NLT).
- Paul stated:
“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21, NLT).
(4) He forgives sin, as only God can.
- The Scribes said: “What is he saying? This is blasphemy! Only God can forgive sins!?” (Mark 2:7).
- Jesus said: “So I will prove to you that the Son of Man has the authority on earth to forgive sins….” (Matthew 9:6). (Also see John 8:11.)
- Peter wrote:
“He personally carried our sin in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By his wounds you are healed.” (1 Peter 2:24).
(5) He performed miraculous works.
- He healed the sick: Matthew 8:9-13; Luke 4:31-44; 5:12-15; John 4:43 to 5:16; and other references.
- He fed the hungry: John 6; Mark 8, etc.
- He raised the dead: Luke 7:11-18; John 11:1-46.
Jesus Christ Became Man:
“So the Word became human and made his home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness.” (John 1:14). (See also Philippians 2:7-8)
(1) His miraculous birth was prophesied 800 years before His coming: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son and will call him Immanuel (which means ‘God is with us’)” (Isaiah 7:14).
(2) The prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. “Don’t be afraid, Mary,” the angel told her, “for you have found favor with God! You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus.” (Luke 1:30-31).
(3) Jesus demonstrated human characteristics: He became tired (John 4:6). He thirsted (John 19:28), He ate food (Luke 24:40-43), He showed feelings (Mark 6:34), He wept (John 11:35), He knew temptation (Hebrews 4:15), and He died (John 19:30).
Jesus Christ Accomplished the Works of His Father:
(1) He died on the Cross. This is the fundamental theme of the Gospel.
- The fact of His death—One-fourth of the Gospels are dedicated to His Passion and Resurrection.
- For this purpose He came into the world (John 12:27).
- His death was prophesied hundreds of years before He came (Isaiah 53:3-8).
- The meaning of His death.
- It was a ransom for sin (Matthew 20:28; Romans 3:24; 1 Peter 1:18).
- It was to pay the penalty for sin (Romans 3:24; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Man is the object of God’s wrath because of rebellion and sin, but God took the initiative in satisfying His wrath by sending His own Son to Calvary.
- It is a reconciliation. The enmity between us and God has ended (Romans 5:10), and we are restored to God (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19).
- It is a substitution: He died in our place (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21).In summary, the matter of sin has been completely dealt with (1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 10:12).
(2) He was resurrected from the dead: This is unique and fundamental to Christianity.
- The reality of the Resurrection (John 20:1-10; 1 Corinthians 15:4).
He was buried, and he was raised from the dead on the third day, just as the Scriptures said. (1 Corinthians 15:4)
- The credibility of the Resurrection:
- Jesus predicted it: Matthew 13:39-41; Luke 24:1-7.
- The tomb was empty: John 20:11-13.
- Many witnesses saw Him alive: the women (Luke 23:55, 56); Mary Magdalene (John 20:1, 2, 11-18); Peter and the other disciples (John 20:3-9, 19, 20, 24-31; 21:1-14).
The Results of His Work:
(1) He ascended to His Father (Luke 24:49-53; Acts 1:6-11).
(2) He is our eternal Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 1 John 2:1).
(3) He is our Savior: “Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31).
- He is the only Savior. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
- He is a complete Savior. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25).
- He is a personal Savior. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness: and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9, 10).
The Consummation of His Work:
(1) He shall return again to this earth (Acts 1:11; Hebrews 10:37; John 14:3).
(2) Believers in Christ shall be bodily resurrected to begin a new, undying life (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).
(3) He will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords over His new creation (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 22:3-5).
Adapted from: The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook (Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1984), pp. 152-154