In case you missed it,
there are 8 chapters total, and
all the published chapters
so far are listed here.
“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 was not any thing made that was made. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. ” (John 1:1-3,14).
So far we’ve described God, His Word, the creation of the world, the fall of man, and the promise of Jesus.
Now let’s discuss Jesus himself. There is too much to say about Jesus in such a small book. To truly know him this side of eternity you must listen to him from his Word yourself. His words, the words of life, are there waiting for you and I to devour.
My purpose here is simply to give some key points to summarize his character and his good news. I’m going to briefly describe here the birth, life, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. However, before I do, a quick note about the foolishness of all of this:
The Foolishness of Christ Is For Our Salvation
The idea that God, without ceasing to be God, became the man Jesus Christ, died for our sins, and rose from the dead so we too could live forever is a “foolish” concept; at least it is largely perceived that way. What if I told you that was not an accident, but that this foolish news was designed by God to look foolish? I’m convinced that’s exactly what God teaches us in his Word.
Isaiah recorded these words from the Lord: “And he said, “Go, and say to this people: ‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isaiah 6:9-10)
That’s exactly what Jesus said was happening when he shared the good news. Right before quoting the above verse from Isaiah 6, this is what Matthew records about Jesus: “Then the disciples came and said to him, “Why do you speak to them in parables?” And he answered them, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given.” Mark records that Jesus said he spoke in parables “so that “‘they may indeed see but not perceive, and may indeed hear but not understand, lest they should turn and be forgiven.’” (Mark 4:12)
The truth is, the gospel is not really foolish, but our so-called wisdom has clouded our judgment. We have all gone astray and we are now the sinful and foolish ones. It seems to us a silly idea for God to become a baby, grow into a man, and then die, and rise from the dead. All of that is unbelievable. Yet our doubts have never been a surprise or threat to God, who knew exactly how foolish all of this would seem and look. God says that he has purposely veiled himself from the “wise.” He has purposely made himself look foolish so that he actually has to reveal himself to anyone He would “appoint” to eternal life. This is why Jesus’s followers describe those who come to faith as those appointed: “As many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” (Acts 13:48)
Look at God’s word in Paul’s first letter, to that people from the wise and ancient city of Greece, the Corinthians:
“For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18-29).
In other words, Jesus, the cross and his resurrection sounds like foolishness and God knows this and this is on purpose because God opposes the proud. You can’t just stumble into knowing and believing in Christ. God Himself must find you. If you don’t know Him my prayer is that He finds you through the rest of this book. Now let’s discuss some of the details of the life and death and resurrection of Jesus.
Adding humanity to himself
First, in this temporal space we call earth, God the Son was at one time not a man, and then he was born a man! Let’s not miss the significance of that. Sure, many of us celebrate Christmas because of the birth of Jesus, but do we truly think about what it means for the God of the universe to add humanity to his divinity? Our God is a God-man forever, uniting himself with humanity forever.
This means he loves us forever.
If we ever doubt that this powerful God loves us, we can remember that He now has arms and legs and a nose and mouth, today, right now, and forever.
It is good to have a big view of God’s sovereignty and power. He can do anything He wants, and it is good. Because of my fallen mind, and knowing God can do whatever He wants, I have tended to think that God could decide to do away with us all after a million years in heaven. Why not? God can do all that He wants, and He makes the rules. But by becoming a man we can see that God said “yes” to humanity forever. He will not forsake us because he cannot forsake himself! “if we are faithless, he remains faithful—for he cannot deny himself.” (2 Timothy 2:13)
Why would God stoop to become one of us, just to abandon us? He has said “I will never leave you…” (Hebrews 13:5) and we have good reason to believe He is telling the truth. God being born a man was an important first step for our salvation. God united Himself with his people by adding flesh to Himself without ceasing to be God. What does it mean that God became human except, at least, that He loves us, and intends to love us forever?
He is fully human.
It’s important to pause and remember that if we say Jesus is the “God-man” this should never imply we think he is some sort of demi-god or half human. No, he is fully human. This is made clear throughout the Bible. The fact that Jesus is truly fully human helps us to know that he understands our suffering. Jesus was fully God without ceasing to be fully human. This means God knows what it’s like to live on the earth, to get tired, to feel happy, or feel sad at the loss of a loved one. He had to get up early, and go to work as a carpenter.
He was even a teenager once, and maybe even had acne. He had friends who let him down, because that’s what people do. He had to sit and listen to his mom and dad when he might have known better. He knows what it’s like to laugh and cry and stub his toe. Of course Jesus experienced far more suffering than most of us ever have on the cross, but it helps to know he also had the simple aches and pains all of us have. Of course being God, he did not need a physical body to understand these things. God understands everything. He made everything! But going through life in this fallen world was a gift to us, to experience it as a man, for our sakes, so that there is not a shadow of a doubt in us that he knows. He understands our temptations and our pain.
He is fully God.
Jesus is fully man, and somehow by the power of his Spirit, he is also fully God. That may be hard to comprehend, but this is what God teaches us in Scripture. He is 100% God and 100% human. Mathematically that makes no sense, but I think it does, spiritually. I thank God that the spiritual world is not restricted by our scientific observations and rules. If God wasn’t fully man, He could not fully represent sinful humanity and stand in our place. And if He was not also fully God, the sacrifice of his life would be worthy of the justice necessary to pay the penalty for sin, and free the countless multitudes of those He has saved.
Jesus sent a man named Paul to write this about himself: “by him [Jesus] all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:16-17).
Another disciple penned these words from God: “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:3).
Jesus claimed to be God
Many people will try to say that Jesus never claimed to be God and they try to make him out to simply be a good man or a good teacher. There are many scriptures that show that Jesus claimed to be God, but I want to highlight just one.
In the book of Exodus, written roughly 3,500 years ago, we learn that God said his name was “I am.”
“Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’” (Exodus 3:13-14).
We then read in the book of John that Jesus called himself by the same name. A man named Abraham lived and died many hundreds of years before Jesus, but Jesus told the Jews that he, Jesus, had seen Abraham!
Jesus said, “Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” (John 8:57-59).
Even though he committed no crime, Jesus claimed to be God, and is one of the very reasons he was nailed to the cross. “The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10:31-33).
The Life of Jesus
Jesus was God in the flesh and he was therefore able to live a good and righteous life, free of sin. He did not sin in his mind, or in his words, or in his actions. Because of this, he was the first and only good man, to stay good, and to walk the earth until his death. He lived the life no one had been willing (or truly able) to do.
During his life, he performed many amazing miracles that we read about in Scripture. He predicted many things that came true, proving that he was who he said he was. The miracles were God’s stamp of approval on all he said and did, and the news about him spread like wildfire across the world, and still does. Jesus told us the good news: that we can live forever if we fully trust and follow him! God walked the earth to tell us and show us the way to life: Himself. Jesus said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6)
In addition, just as Adam was our first representative, and we suffer for the choices of Adam, by becoming human, Jesus is the representative for all who trust in him. Death came through Adam to all. Life comes through Jesus to all who trust in him. (Romans 5:17)
The Death of Jesus
Jesus’ incarnation (being born) is important because it makes his death even more meaningful. Our all-powerful, all-knowing God came to the earth, knowing He would be killed. He laid down his life for us. Although Jesus was arrested and killed on a wooden cross, he allowed this to happen by choosing to come to the world, knowing exactly what would happen to him. That is why Jesus said, “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again.” (John 10:18)
In His death in Jesus, God defeated death for all. The fine we owed for our cosmic crimes and rebellion has been paid in full for all those who trust in Jesus. The fine that is only punishable by eternal death has been paid by the infinite value and cost of His life. In the past people have made sacrifices of their best crops and animals in an attempt to be right with God. But sacrifices never truly “paid” for wrong doing. Tthey were a temporary solution, and a symbol or a foreshadowing, of the sacrifice God would make. Jesus’s Apostle Peter said, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.” (1 Peter 3:18). God stooped to the earth as a human and laid down his life as a sacrifice and payment for our sins. By this act He both justly punished sin and also set free all those who turn and trust in Jesus. “It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.” (Romans 3:26)
A baby is made from half the mom’s blood structure (called DNA) and half the Dad’s DNA. When those two things come together they form the beginnings of a baby. Sometimes we call this a zygote. God’s Word says that Mary gave birth to Jesus as a virgin. So Jesus had a mother (Mary) but no earthly biological father. Logically speaking, this means that either Mary supplied the entire zygote, or more likely, she supplied half as a normal woman would and God miraculously supplied, out of nothing, the other half that a man normally would.
Every person’s blood is made of two building blocks of DNA called chromosomes. The two chromosomes that women have are both X chromosomes. The two chromosomes that men have are an X chromosome and a Y chromosome. This means that Mary could only supply an X chromosome, so even the baby she had was supplied by her DNA, logically, it should be a girl. This means again that God had to supply the Y chromosome out of nothing to make the X and Y come together to form the man, Jesus.
I find this important because, Jesus is sometimes called the “second Adam.” Just like Adam was created out of the ground, seemingly out of nothing, without a biological father, Jesus was also miraculously born without a biological father. This is part of why the virgin birth is important. It’s not just an interesting story. Because of the virgin birth, some scholars speculate that, besides that fact that He is God, this virgin birth of Jesus is also what kept him from inheriting Adam’s sinful nature, unlike the rest of us. So besides being fully God, this is how it was possible for him to be fully human but without a sinful nature, and free from a sinful life. Since death is the result of sin, death could not hold Jesus in the grave, and he rose to life again.
Have you ever played the game “The Blob?” This is a game of tag where the person you tag has to hold your hand. This happens again and again until there is a group of people holding hands running after just a few. If one person on the end begins running in one direction, they all pull the people on the other end of the line, reaching for others to tag and pull them with them. This is the picture I have in my mind when I think of the resurrection of Jesus. By becoming a man, conquering death, and rising to heaven, Jesus has linked arms with those He has touched and is pulling them with Him to heaven. If God didn’t cross into heaven as a man, none of us could. He made a way for us.
So far we’ve discussed the meat of the good news: Our good and holy God made heaven and Earth, and all humanity. We rebelled against Him and trusted in ourselves, which has been our ruin. So God came to the world through Jesus, linked arms with us by becoming human, lived a godly life, told us how to live, and to wait for his return to the world, then died in our place taking the bullet for us. He then rose again from the dead, so that all who trust in him can be raised to life forever.
Some ask, as I did, well what about all those who lived and died before Christ, how were they saved? They were saved by Christ, because Christ was always a certainty. Sacrifices of sheep and goats never permanently covered sin but was a symbol and a shadow of the Great sacrifice. Abraham’s faith was only counted to him as righteousness because of the future sacrifice of Jesus. This is made clear through God’s Word spoken through the disicples of Jesus. John said that the “I Am” in whom Abraham rejoiced thousands of years before was Jesus (John 8:56–58). The “Lord” who motivated Moses was “Christ” (Hebrews 11:26). The Redeemer who brought the Israelites out of Egypt thousands of years before was Jesus (Jude 5). The Rock that the Israelites drank from in the wilderness was Christ (1 Corinthians 10:4). The King of the prophet Isaiah’s temple vision was Jesus the Son of God (John 12:40–41). Faith in Christ is the only way anyone who has ever lived will rise to life.
A story about birds
I remember going to church as a kid and hearing about how God “sent his only Son” and it honestly made no sense to me. I was okay with talking about “God.” To talk about this guy named “Jesus” only got in the way. To talk about “God” was cool. God is invisible! Jesus, well… he wore a toga (or he did in my head). God made the universe! Jesus… made some chairs, and helped some sick people get well. “God” is an acceptable philosophical, smart, topic most people enjoy. “Jesus” is.. getting a little weird.
So any talk of this silly, dress-wearing, hippie of a man was hard for me.
And then, when I was still a teenager, I read a short story that helped me understand in a study-Bible of mine. This is my paraphrase:
A farmer lived through a cold, snowy winter, and looked out his window. He saw a flock of tiny birds, obviously cold, in the subzero temperatures. The birds all huddled together, shivering from the snowy cold. He felt compassion for them, and he knew his warm barn had plenty of room for these birds. So he put on his coat, opened the barn doors, and waited for the birds to enter the barn. He waited and waited, but they did not see the open barn doors. They continued to shiver outside.
Next, he grabbed some bird seed and made a trail to the barn. The birds ate some of the seeds but they did not follow the seeds into the barn. Some of the seeds were soon covered by the snow, and lost.
Next, he came behind the birds and tried to shoo them into the barn, but frightened, they flew away in the opposite direction and then returned to gather into their shivering mass. The farmer thought to himself, “If only I could become a bird, I could explain to them that the warm barn is a safe place and not a confinement.”
As the farmer was thinking about this, he heard church bells ring in the distance. And then the farmer understood the reason God sent Jesus. Just as those shivering birds want warmth, we want life and truth. The farmer may have failed to communicate with the birds, but God hasn’t failed to communicate with us. God became a man to get our attention, to communicate with us, and to show us the way to life, forever, with him. (Adapted from a story by Philip Yancey and Paul Harvey, (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1985), 351–52. Copyright © 2010
The Ax: Without ceasing to be God, He became the man Jesus Christ, to die for our sins and rise again to eternal life, so that all who trust in Jesus will be saved.
The Ox: Being fully God, Jesus was sinless and paid for sins by his death; being fully man he replaces Adam and represents all men who trust in Him for eternal life.
In this chapter we discussed the person and the life of Jesus:
- His story is foolishness to the world, and it is the wisdom of God
- He is fully God
- He is fully human
- He claimed to be God
- His life is worth infinitely more than yours or mine, being God and sinless
- He died on a cross in our place for our sins
- He rose from the dead so we could do the same
GOSPEL MEMORIZATION GRAPHIC
EXAMPLE OF HOW TO SHARE THE GOSPEL
After every couple chapters I will write example of how you can share what you’ve read with others, and we will build upon these sentences until the end of the book:
“Let me tell you about the Gospel, which is the good news that we read about in God’s Word (the Bible): God exists and He is good. He made mankind good and upright, but we all have disobeyed God. God said the punishment for sin is eternal, wide-awake death. But God in love and mercy decided to bring men and women back into fellowship with Himself. Without ceasing to be God he became the man Jesus Christ, died on the cross for sins, and rose from the grave that all who put their hope in Him would also rise to eternal life…”