Recently I was asked, “Who is this Jesus Christ and what was his mission? Is he God? What was the purpose of His life on earth?” I will attempt to discuss the person and nature of Christ, considering His deity, humanity, preexistence and ministry as the incarnate Jesus. While the answer can be made in just a few paragraphs, it would be impossible to fully describe Christ. The Apostle John puts it this way: “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” (John 21:25)
With that thought in mind, let us look at Christ’s Person and Nature.
Jesus Christ is God. Four simple words. I don’t speak them lightly, but with conviction. Over and over again the Bible declares this truth. God declares it. Jesus declares it and those closest to Jesus while he lived on the earth declare it.
The attributes of Christ can only be ascribed to God. For example; Jesus is everywhere, He is omnipresence (Matthew 18:20). He is all knowing, omniscient (Mark 11:2-6, John 4:14). Jesus is all powerful, omnipotent (2 Corinthians 12:9; Matthew 28:18; Mark 1:33-34) Jesus is immutable, He is the same yesterday, today and forever immutable (Hebrews 13:8). All of these attributes are attributed to God the Father. Therefore, since they are ascribed to God the Father and Jesus the Son, Christ must be God.
In the creation of the heavens and the earth, Genesis chapter one, proclaims that it is God, Elohim, that is the creator. Jesus is called Elohim in Hebrews 1:8, John 20:27-28; Titus 2:13.
When Moses met God on the mountain, the Lord identified Himself as “I AM”, the all sufficient, eternal God. This name is given to Jesus as He calls himself “I Am” in John 8:58.
Since Christ is God and Creator, He is therefore pre-existent to creation. While there are many passages that speak of this truth, none are clearer than the first chapter of the Gospel of John. John makes statements of fact as they relate to Christ and everything else that follows in the book is given to support those facts.
We can see His preexistence through His relationship through eternity, and His equality with the Father. Jesus has always existed and that can be seen in His relationship through eternity. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:1-3)
In the Revelation, Jesus is identified as “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty” (Revelation 1:8). These phrases identify Christ as the “I Am”. I Am being He who is and was and is to come. This is the description of Jesus the Christ; He preexisted all things including time.
Jesus the Christ had two natures in His incarnate state; He was all God and He was all man. His humanity can be found in several ways. He had human parentage; he was born of a woman. He took the form of a human body in fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. That is, he was to be “seed” of the woman, He was to come from the seed of Abraham and be of the seed of David.
His human birth is well documented in the Gospels of Matthew and Luke. While He had a human mother, he was not born with a sinful nature.
We know little of His childhood until He was twelve years old and the Gospels captured the dialog between Jesus and His parents. We are told that He grew in stature and wisdom and that His parents taught Him the Law. He was raised as a son of Israel and attended the Feasts of Israel in Jerusalem with His earthly father and family.
Throughout His earthly ministry we see evidences of His humanity as He had compassion on the multitudes, He grew weary, hungered, thirsted and wept. While hanging on the cross, Jesus had compassion on His mother and gave her to the Apostle John. He had the appearance of a man (John 4:9; Luke 24; John 20:15, 21:4-5). 80 times in the New Testament, Jesus took upon Himself the human title, the “Son of Man”.
Jesus required a human body in order to fulfil the prophecies concerning the Messiah. Hebrews 2:9-17; Jesus was to “taste death for every man in order to bring many sons unto glory, and to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.” (Hebrews 2:9-10)
The scriptures are silent concerning the activities of the God-head in eternity past. However, Christ was present before the creation as the redemptive plan for mankind and creation were established before the creative acts found in Genesis 1:1.
The reason for the incarnation is to redeem mankind. He came to die for our sins (Hebrews 2; Romans 8:32), become the believers High Priest and be our example for life (1 John 2:6; Philippians 2:5-8; 1 Peter 2:24).
His earthly ministry included proclaiming the “Kingdom of Heaven is at hand”, teaching the masses, performing miracles, and confronting false teaching.
Jesus earthly ministry included His crucifixion. Through His death on the cross as the substitute for man, He fulfilled the Old Testament scriptures (Isaiah 53; Psalm 22) concerning the Messiah. With His sacrifice, atonement, reconciliation, propitiation, redemption and substitution of the Law, became manifest in Christ. The purpose of Christ’s crucifixion is that He might justify fallen man (Romans 4:23-25).
The final chapter in Christ’s earthly ministry was in His resurrection and ascension. It was necessary that Christ rise from the dead: 1) to fulfill prophecy, even His own; 2) His resurrection is the everlasting guarantee of the forgiveness of our sins; and 3) His resurrection was also the guarantee of the believer’s resurrection. He was raised for our justification according to 1 Corinthians 15:1-4, 12-17.
By His ascension we see the completed ministry of Jesus Christ. His work continues today as our great High Priest. John 17:1 ff. John 6:62. Recorded in Acts 1:9-11. His ascension marked the end of His humility. Ephesians 1:20-23.
In summary,Matthew sums up the works of Christ:
Matthew 20:28 Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.