So much has been said and written about Jesus Christ over the centuries. Much of it is good and edifying, but not all of it.
Jesus—the man from Nazareth—had a polarizing effect on people. Many who followed Him were not those you'd expect. In fact, many theologians and religious leaders opposed Him.
But there's far more to the person of Jesus Christ than what is known historically. Who He is and the purpose of His presence on earth is often misunderstood.
A puzzle for many
I've noticed people tend to have a personal view of Jesus that fits what is important to them. This becomes clear when people are asked who Jesus is and why He's important to them.
Often times these personal views reveal ignorance about the full identity of Jesus. "He was a prophet... a good man... good teacher... a revolutionary," and the list goes on.
But many people, when asked if Jesus is God, struggle with this truth. I know I did in my own journey of faith.
"How could Jesus be human and God?" This is a puzzle to many people, including Christian believers. And yet, understanding the dual nature of Jesus is absolutely essential.
Unless Jesus was fully human, He could not provide His substitutionary atonement for all humanity.
Yet, unless Jesus was truly God in nature and without the stain of humanity's sin, His sacrificial death would not be acceptable as a means of reconciliation with God for all humanity.
Without this understanding Solo Christo, or Solus Christus—through Christ alone—is just an abstract theological belief.
A dual nature
Looking back, I didn't understand how important this truth was when I started to follow Jesus. I don't remember if anyone explained this to me. If they did, I didn't get it.
I remember spending hours reading the Bible and marking references to Christ's deity. Eventually it sunk in. Either I'm a slow-learner or just plain skeptical. Maybe a bit of both.
The better I understood the dual nature of Jesus—being fully human and fully God—my understanding of Christ's atoning death and resurrection deepened.
An essential truth
Teaching through the book of Hebrews at our school in the Philippines, I realized how little this was understood by many Christian believers, whatever their background.
Interactive discussion and explanation with the students (and staff) began to bear fruit. During this time I developed several messages focused on what I came to call the Essential Gospel, which became the nucleus for my book, The Mystery of the Gospel.
The Essential Gospel is summed up this way—He Came, He Died, He Rose. What's essential is knowing who He is—Jesus Christ, the God-Man—the Son of God who offered Himself as the Lamb of God to take away the sin of the world (John 1:29).
Who Jesus is
Here are a few important references and truths to keep in mind about who Jesus is.
- Jesus is the only mediator between God and man— 1 Timothy 2:5. No angel, no church leader, no institution or anyone or anything else can take His place.
- He is our Intercessor—Hebrews 4:14-16; 7:25; John 10:11, 14. Jesus is the one who bridges the gap between God and humanity, and knows our greatest needs.
- Jesus is the only legitimate access to God the Father and the one who reveals the Father to us—John 1:1, 14, 18; 10:7; 14:6, 9.
- Jesus was fully human—Hebrews 2:14-18, yet without sin—2 Cor 5:21.
- Jesus is fully God in nature—from His virgin birth through the Holy Spirit (Luke 1:30-35) to His physical life on the earth—Colossians 1:15-20; 2:9.
Before Jesus told His closest followers what would take place in the months to come, He asked them what people were saying about Him. Then Jesus asked them directly, "But who do you say that I am?" (Matt 16:13-15) Simon Peter declared,
"You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." (Matt 16:16)
So, who do you think Jesus is?
How does your personal view of Jesus line up with the Scriptures?
This is the 6th in a series of posts to consider the 5 Solas of the Protestant Reformation. Here are the previous posts—
Many of the theological terms used by Christians become like a foreign language to nonbelievers. Believers need to understand these terms well enough to put them in their own words, or as I call it IYOW (In Your Own Words).
I've tried to give some simple clarification of terms in these posts, but I encourage you to make your own effort at understanding these terms so you can explain them IYOW to others. Here's a simple glossary of Christianese words you can download— Christianese_glossary
If there's a specific theological term that proves hard to grasp, let me know. I'll at least point you in the right direction for an answer, if I can't help you with my own explanation.