God created humanity in his own image. The crowning touch to his creation. But humanity fell into sin and was separated from God. That separation was eternal and there was nothing we could do to reverse our fate. But God could, and did. God provided a savior, Jesus, who would be able to restore the broken relationship between God and man.
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Who Is Jesus?
Before we look at what Jesus did to restore our relationship with God, it is important to first understand who he is. As Christians, we understand the Bible to teach that he is fully God and fully man. This is a challenging concept that we do not understand completely. But it is important in Jesus’ work in our redemption.
The article on God briefly discussed the triune nature of God. The Trinity includes God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. Not three gods, but one God having three individual persons. This is expressed in the Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20. Here Jesus instructed his church to go out into the world making disciples. And baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They are not to baptize in the name of the Father, the name of the Son, and the name of the Holy Spirit. But in the name of the triune God.
While Jesus clearly understood himself to be distinct from the Father, he also understood himself to be one with him. In John 10:30, Jesus said, “I and the Father are one.” Not two, but one. And in John 8:58 he tells the religious leaders that “before Abraham was born, I am!” In this response, he identified himself as existing before Abraham. But more importantly, the “I am” is what God used to identify himself when he called Moses. It is the name of God.
In the apostle’s writings, we most often see them identifying Jesus as Lord. This Greek word equated to the Hebrew word that was commonly substituted for YHWH, the name of God. And Thomas, when he first encountered the risen Jesus declared him to be “my Lord and my God” (John 20:28).
As you read the gospels it is clear that Jesus interacted with this world as a human. He was born (Luke 2:7) and developed physically and mentally (Luke 2:52). He knew hunger (Matt. 4:2), thirst (John 19:28), human emotions (John 11:35), was limited in knowledge (Mark 9:11; 13:32), and grew weary (John 4:6). Jesus died (Matt. 27:50) and was buried (Matt. 27:59-60). And his disciples claimed to have seen and touched him (1 Peter 1:16-18, 1 John 1:1).
The author of Hebrews, while describing Jesus said that he was “fully human in every way” (Heb. 2:17). Jesus did not just appear to be like us. He was fully and completely human, although without sin (Heb. 4:15). Just how Jesus was able to be fully human and fully God is a mystery. But it is well attested in the Scripture. And the church has held this to be true since its beginning.
What Jesus Did
As significant as the full divinity and Jesus is, of greater significance for us is what he did. Humanity was hopelessly lost in sin and separated from the life of God. And destined for eternal separation from the God who had created us. God’s solution to our separation was Jesus. Jesus became our savior and the means to heal the rift between us.
Incarnation is a word that describes diety taking on human form. And it is the term we use to describe what God the Son did in becoming the human Jesus. The incarnation of Jesus was more than just God wrapping himself in flesh. He actually became human.
The Scripture describes the incarnation in a variety of ways. In Luke 1:35, Gabriel told Mary that the Holy Spirit would come upon her and the child she would bear would be the Son of God. From the moment of his conception, the child that Mary carried in her womb was fully God and fully man.
Paul also refers to the incarnation in Philippians 2:5-8. He describes Jesus as being in very nature God. He was God. But he took on the nature of man and was made in our likeness. There are many questions that theologians debate about this passage. But it is clear that it involves incarnation, one who was in nature God taking on the nature of humanity.
An Atoning Sacrifice
Jesus grew to adulthood and then began to proclaim the kingdom of heaven. He taught about the kingdom, healed the sick, and cast out demons. But in his life, he did little that God had not used others to also do. It was in his death that Jesus accomplished what only he could do.
In Jesus’ death on the cross, he became an atoning sacrifice for our sins (1 John 2:2). He carried our sins to the cross (1 Pet. 2:24), paying the penalty for them in our place. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Cor. 5:21).
Jesus’ atoning death on the cross brought about reconciliation between God and lost humanity (Col. 1:22). God offers this reconciliation to us as an act of his grace to be received by faith (Rom. 3:25, Eph. 2:8). All who put their faith in the shed blood of Jesus receive a new life and a restored relationship with God.
Jesus’ work did not end with his atoning sacrifice. Jesus died on the cross, was taken down, and placed into a tomb. But the tomb was opened on the third day to reveal that Jesus was no longer there. He had risen from the dead. And his resurrection was more than just a return to the life he had just given up. He was resurrected into a new type of human. One that would no longer face death (Rom. 6:9).
His death brought about forgiveness for sin (Eph. 1:7). And his resurrection was a victory over death (1 Cor. 15:54). Because Jesus lives, we also can look forward to life eternal. Jesus is the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18). And all who trust in him will someday follow him in our own resurrection, taking on new bodies and being like him (1 John 3:2).
A later post in this series will discuss this topic in greater detail. But it is worth pointing out here that Jesus’ work on our behalf did not end with his crucifixion and resurrection. At some unknown time in the future, Jesus will return to earth. And when he does, all of those who have died waiting for his return will be resurrected and join the believers then alive (1 Thess. 4:14-17). We will be given new bodies ( 1 Cor. 15:42-54) and will be with the Lord forever.
Some Questions to Consider
- Did Jesus’ divinity offer him an advantage during the 33 or so years he lived on earth?
- Philippians 2:7 says that Jesus “made himself nothing.” What do you think this means?
- How does Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross reconcile us to God?
- What impact does Jesus’ resurrection have on believers today?
You are welcome to respond to these questions in the comment section below. If you do, be sure to check the “Notify me” checkbox just above the Post Comment button so you can get any feedback. Note that all comments are moderated. Only respectful comments relevant to the topic will be posted.
Posts in the Discipleship Series
- Bible Study – Discipleship 101
- Spending Time Together – Discipleship 102
- Worshipping Together – Discipleship 103
- Drawing Near in Prayer – Discipleship 104
- Understanding Who God Is – Doctrine 201
- What Is Humanity – Doctrine 202
- What Is Sin? – Doctrine 203
- Jesus: Our Savior – Doctrine 204
- Gifted to Serve: Discipleship 301
- Meditation, Solitude, and Fasting: Discipleship 302
- What Is the Bible? – Doctrine 401
- The Nature and Work of the Holy Spirit: Doctrine 402
- What Is Jesus’ Church?: Doctrine 403
- Creation and Providence – Doctrine 404
- The Doctrine of the Kingdom of God
Other Related Posts
The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.
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