Article: 7 Min

Five Quick Essential Facts About Jesus

by Greg Gilbert, contributed by our Friends at Crossway

Have you ever been in this situation—your friends are sharing opinions about a person you’ve never met, or a movie you’ve never seen, or book you’ve never read? You might feel left out. You hear snippets of what they say and want to form opinions, but you get frustrated not knowing whose judgment to trust, and you wish to break out of your ignorance.

We don’t want you to have this experience with Jesus. Tons of smart people, skeptical people, and religious people talk on and on and on about the question, is Jesus God?

We suspect that you sincerely want to know whether Jesus is God—that’s why you’re reading this.

You won’t find the answer to that question from Christian apologists (apologists meaning not people who say sorr,y but people who defend our faith). You won’t find it in tweets or long debates on YouTube. You won’t even find it entirely on this page. You have to open the Bible for yourself because that’s where we find Jesus’ own claims to be God. Otherwise, you’ll just be overhearing conversation about Jesus without encountering him for yourself.

It’s one thing to hear someone else answer a question. It’s another thing to come to those conclusions yourself.

1

Where Do I Find the Answer?

If you really want to know about someone these days, you research it or you “Facebook stalk” that person. Our guess is you wouldn’t go asking other people what they think about that person. Instead, you would take a look at that person’s own self-disclosure, whether via social media, or their resume, or in an interview.

No reasonable person debates that Jesus actually lived. He existed, historically. The self-disclosure we have of him are four first-century biographies written by his followers. Fascinatingly, they’re the most accurate ancient historical documents of all time—they’re more reliable than the stuff you read about Caesar in grade school (Check out “Why Should I Trust the Bible?“).

The first book for you to read about Jesus would be John. It’s one of these biographies or “gospels.” Know what’s awesome? Two thousand years ago, John anticipated your question. In his account about Jesus, John wrote, “But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20:31 NIV).

Read John, then Matthew, Mark, and Luke—they are all in the Bible. Ask yourself as you read, “Is Jesus God?” How does he go about claiming to be God? Does his life match up with his claim?

And if he really is God, what are the implications? If Jesus is God, would that have any impact on your life?

2

Why Would I Want the Answer?

Maybe that seems like a lot of unnecessary work to do if we could just give you “our reasons” for why Jesus is God. We could do that and answer the question for you, but that won’t do you any good. Here’s why. At the end of the day, you have to answer that question.

We often hear in society that truth doesn’t matter or doesn’t exist, but let’s be real here. One day we’re going to die (100% of people die!) and something is going to be true. Everyone can’t be right. There can’t be the God of the Bible and reincarnation and nihilism… someone’s got to be right. The task is seeing which worldview fits best with reality. If Jesus is God it’s a game changer for life.

And we care about your life! We know that you reading this are a real person, with meaningful life on earth ordained by God, and an eternity ahead of you.

Jesus is not only God to us, he’s everything the Bible says that he is. We have come to know him in our experience to be the same man the Bible reveals him to be. And we want you to know him too.

This question is actually one of the most important questions in the whole Bible, because our worldview hinges on that question. It’s also the most important question in your life—Is Jesus God?

“This one who is life itself was revealed to us, and we have seen him. And now we testify and proclaim to you that he is the one who is eternal life. He was with the Father, and then he was revealed to us. We proclaim to you what we ourselves have actually seen and heard so that you may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ.  We are writing these things so that you may fully share our joy.” (1 John 1:2-4 NLT)

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1

A Historical Person

Maybe you have never really thought about who Jesus is, or whether his claims have any implications for your life. After all, we’re talking about a man who was born in the first century into an obscure Jewish carpenter’s family. The basic facts of his life—where and when he lived, how he died—are all pretty well agreed upon. But what about the significance of his life and death? Was he a prophet? A teacher? Was he the Son of God, or just an unusually gifted man? And for that matter, who did he think he was? For all the questions, though, everyone seems to agree on one thing: Jesus was an extraordinary person.

2

An Extraordinary Person

Without a doubt, in his day there was something about Jesus that caught people’s attention. Over and over Jesus said things that left his contemporaries amazed at his wisdom, and even confronted them in ways that left them fumbling around for a way to make sense of it all (Matthew 22:22).

“Many who heard him were astonished, saying, ‘What is the wisdom given to him?’ . . . and ‘How are such mighty works done by his hands?’” (Mark 6:2 ESV)

Then there were the miracles. Hundreds and hundreds of people saw with their own eyes Jesus do things that no human being should be able to do. He healed people from sickness; he made water instantly turn into fine-tasting wine; he told lame people to walk again, and they did; he stood on the prow of a boat and told the ocean to be quiet—and it did; he stood in front of the tomb of a man who had been dead for four days and called to him to come back to life—and the man heard him, stood up, and walked out of the tomb (Matthew 8:24–27; 9:6–7; John 2:1–11; 11:38–44).

With every one of his miracles and in every one of his sermons Jesus was making and backing up claims about himself that no human being had ever made before—claims that he was God.

3

God

On a number of occasions Jesus took a name for himself exclusively used for God, the present tense “I am” (John 8:48–58), which brought to mind the ancient and famous name of Israel’s almighty God (Exodus 3:14).

Prophecies that Jesus claimed to fulfill also pointed to his deity. The people of Israel were looking forward to a king occupying the centuries-vacant throne. One prophet described this King as “Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end” (Isaiah 9:6–7 ESV). The people of that day would have seen that this promised King didn’t sound like just another man who would sit on the throne for a time and then die. They would have heard their God promising that he himself would come and be their King.

Jesus also asserted his identity as, “the Son of God.” It wasn’t just a royal title; it was also a claim that Jesus was equal to God in status and character and honor. John explains: “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because . . . he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18 ESV).

Jesus also asserted his identity as, “the Son of God.” It wasn’t just a royal title; it was also a claim that Jesus was equal to God in status and character and honor.

4

One of Us

Christians call the reality that God became human the incarnation. The Bible tells us that Jesus got hungry, he got thirsty, he got tired, and he even got sleepy. He did things with a deeply human tenderness, compassion, and love (Matthew 15:32; Mark 6:34, John 11:33–36). He not only was human; he showed us what God intended humanity to be all along.

Jesus was identifying with us, becoming one with us so that he could represent us in life and death. When Adam, the first man, sinned, he did so as the representative of all who would come after him (Genesis 3:1–15). “One trespass led to condemnation for all men” (Romans 5:18 ESV). Jesus would let God’s sentence of death—his righteous wrath against sinners—fall on him. So, Jesus allowed one of his own disciples to betray him to the Roman authorities who sentenced him to be crucified. In Jesus’s death on the cross, all the sin of God’s people was placed on him. Jesus died for them. He died in their place. There’s only one thing that would lead the Son of God to do this: he deeply loves us. “For God so loved the world,” one biblical writer said, “that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16 ESV).

But Jesus did not remain dead. When some disciples entered Jesus’s tomb two days later, “they saw a young man sitting on the right side, dressed in a white robe, and they were alarmed. And he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here’” (Mark 16:5–6 ESV).

5

Alive

Through Jesus’s resurrection from the dead, something breathtakingly extraordinary happened. Everything he ever claimed for himself was vindicated. (1 Corinthians 15:14–19).

Only the resurrection had the power to turn his own followers—cowardly, skeptical men—into martyrs and eyewitnesses who were willing to stake everything on him for the sake of telling the world, “This man Jesus was crucified, but now he is alive!”

The resurrection is the hinge on which all Christianity turns. It’s the foundation on which everything else rests, the capstone that holds everything else about Christianity together.

Who Do You Say He Is?

Maybe you’re not ready to believe his claims. What is holding you back? Once you identify those things, don’t just walk away from them. Examine them. Pursue them. Find answers to your questions. Don’t put this off. This is the most important question you’ll ever consider!

Maybe you’re ready to say, “I really do think Jesus is the Son of God. I know I’m a sinner and a rebel against God. I know I deserve death for that rebellion, and I know Jesus can save me.” If so, then you simply turn away from sin and trust Jesus, and rely on him to save you. And then you tell the world! This is who Jesus is. He is the One who saves people just like me, and just like you!

Content adapted from Who is Jesus? by Greg Gilbert. This article first appeared on Crossway.org; used with permission.
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Since it was fallen
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For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin.

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Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.