If we want to know who a person is, it is always best to go to the source. Today, if you ask people who Jesus is, you will get many varied answers. If you read what He said about Himself, and the report of those who lived with Him on a daily basis, you will find out who He really was.
While Jesus was here, He taught us. He did not change the words which had been written in the Old Testament (The Torah), He enlightened us as to their true meaning. “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill.” (Jesus from Matthew 5:17)
So what did Jesus’ friends say about Him? Well, many of His apostles (friends) thought He was a great teacher, a wise man, a healer and a prophet sent by God. These things were true, but not the whole truth. Yes, Jesus performed miracles in front of many people, creating a huge feast from just two fish and five loaves bread, creating fine wine from water, calming a storm with just three simple words, healing the sick, even bringing the dead back to life. These things alone set Him apart, but it was not until He died and came back to life three days later, that people really began to understand who He was and what He had done for us.
After feeding five thousand people who had come to hear Him speak, Jesus asked His disciples, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said, “John the Baptist, but some say Elijah, and others say that one of the old prophets has risen again.” “Who do you say that I am?”, Jesus asked. Peter answered, “The Christ of God.” Jesus warned them not to tell anyone. He told them that He would suffer and die, but would come back to life on the third day. (from the book of Luke chapter 9)
Many times Jesus referred to Himself as “The Son of Man.” At that time most people knew what was meant by this. Jesus was indeed declaring that He was the Son of God, the Messiah. This is the same thing that Peter had said when he referred to Jesus as “The Christ of God.”
As it is today, at the time of Jesus there were certain scriptures about the future that were open to interpretation. Because many of the events had not yet taken place, most people thought that the Messiah was to be an earthly King. Jesus cleared this up when he was brought before the council, which consisted of the chief priests and the scribes. When they asked Him if He was the Christ, Jesus said, “Hereafter the Son of Man will sit at the right hand of the power of God.” This referred to a passage written by David in Psalms 110:1. Jesus spoke of this in Luke 20:42, where He said, “The LORD said to my Lord, Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.” The council all spoke up, at this point I think they were a bit upset. In that time, anyone claiming to be God was considered a heretic and worthy of death. They asked Jesus pointedly, “Are You then the Son of God?” He answered, “You rightly say that I am.”
This poses a dilemma, Jesus said that He was the Son of God. Therefore we must conclude that either He was, and is, the Son of God, that He was insane or worse yet a liar. There is no way to ride the fence on this issue and say that he was a “good” man or a wise teacher.
When man and woman were created, God created them with the ability to make their own choices. This was done out of love. But when you give someone a choice to do what you ask them to do, even if it is for their own good, or do what they think might please them, at some point they will try what they believe will please them.
God gave us, the human race, the choice. When we chose not to follow Him and disobeyed, we changed. We had sinned.
God is a just (fair) ruler. When He created Lucifer, and the angels, they were given the same gift of choice. Lucifer became self absorbed and was able to persuade others to follow him instead of God. There was a rebellion in Heaven. God kicked Lucifer out of Heaven and told him that the punishment for sin would be death. So when we sin, our punishment must also be death.
Death is a separation. In this life when we die, we are separated from those who are still living. When we sin we are separated from God just as Lucifer and his friends were.
Lucifer knew this, which is why he tempted Eve. He knew that if he could persuade God’s people to sin, he would have been successful in stabbing God through the heart, by stealing away something He cared deeply about. God knew this would happen before He created us, the angels or even the Earth. So He created this place for one purpose. Not to play with us as if it were some sort of game. He created all of this; time, space, angels, humans, the universe, the Earth and everything on it for one purpose. So that we would not have to be separated from Him, by our sin, for all eternity. He created all of this as a way for people to be redeemed.
At the time of Christ the law allowed for substitutionary atonement. This is to say that, if a man was to steal from a vendor at the market and the punishment was to lose his hand, a relative or a friend could accept the punishment for him, as long as the substitute had not been involved or committed the crime himself. The innocent man could give his hand, allowing the guilty party to go free, forgiven of his crime. The only other requirement is that all those involved have to agree to the exchange.
It is through this law that God saved mankind. He showed us how it worked by using a lamb, innocent, pure and clean, to be the substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. All of this pointed to Jesus. The crime was sin, the punishment was death, and only one who had never sinned was allowed to be our substitute. No man or woman who ever lived was without sin. Only God was sinless. In the first chapter of John, he clarifies who Jesus is.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.”
Jesus was there at the creation of the world. He came to Earth in human form to be our substitute. He knew from the beginning what He was here to do, and it was never a surprise to Him. If He wanted to He could have stopped it at any moment. But He knew the reason that He was enduring the beatings, the pain and humiliation of death on a cross. He was doing it so that He could be with you forever. The nails did not hold Him to the cross. His love for you is what kept Him there.
So when Jesus died on the cross it was to pay our price. He exchanged His life for ours. God accepted Jesus sacrifice for our sin. The only thing left is for each of us to accept the gift that Jesus has given us. We need to give Jesus the right to pay our price.
It is a pretty good deal. Think about it.