Who Was Jesus? a Modern Summary of an Ancient Story

The truth about Jesus is that He is the eternal, holy, and magnificent God.

After Jesus’ death on the cross, He was moved to a tomb. On the 3rd day, He rose from the dead. The resurrection is the single greatest moment in the history of the universe. More than that, it is the lynchpin of Christianity. Without it, the hope of the Christian is all but empty. The importance of this miracle cannot be overstated. Yes, it’s hard to believe. Yes, its doubted by many. But it is absolutely true! It is the distinguishing factor in understanding who Jesus really is. The resurrection of Christ is unique to Christianity and sets it apart from every other religion.

 

Around this time every year, at least 1 television network will run a special on the person of Jesus. This year, it appears to be the History Channel’s turn with their production, Jesus: His Life – executive produced by Joel Osteen. Doubtless, millions flocked to this special, intrigued by the person of Jesus. This is reasonable; the attention Jesus gathers transcends all generations and cultures. The question, “Who is Jesus and what does he mean for me?” is timeless. No one has had a bigger impact on the world than Him.

Sadly, most documentaries/films fall very short on their presentation of Jesus. It’s usually not a problem of production quality, but of biblical and historical accuracy. Influenced by a theologically liberal or unorthodox bias, they often gloss over critical facets of Jesus’ personhood and gospel – reducing Him to something He is not. What they present is not God; it’s an idol. Although I didn’t watch it, based on what I know of Joel Osteen and his preaching, I suspect this year’s History Channel special to be no better.

Nonetheless, asking yourself “Who is Jesus and what does He mean for me?” remains unequivocally the most significant question you will ever ask. The extraordinary assertions made by Jesus, as written in the bible, about Himself and His kingdom, are so prodigious and formidable they command a thoughtful evaluation from even the most rigid skeptics – certainly a more rigorous evaluation than any secular television program can produce. Either Jesus is who He said He was or He isn’t. While simple in principle, this critical distinction bears the weight of eternal life or death.

I urge you to give sincere thought and consideration as I attempt to briefly answer: “Who is Jesus?” While there’s not enough ink, computer memory, or even time to exhaustively answer that question, Scripture does give us the aptitude to handle it with scoped accuracy. Scoped, that is, to know what Scripture tells us. We can know what has been revealed to us. My hope is that this brief study on Jesus will encourage you to seek Him out as He intended us to know Him – within God’s Word. A film, no matter how well produced, will never match a thorough study in Scripture.

In this article, I will begin by addressing who Jesus was historically. Then, I will discuss the claims that set Him apart from every other figure to ever walk the earth. Whereas some may reduce Jesus to just an interesting historical figure, myth, or good teacher, I contend He is infinitely more than that. Jesus is none other than Holy God.

The Historical Account of Jesus

Even the most liberal of theologians will scarcely deny that Jesus was an actual person. He was a living, breathing person who walked, ate, and slept. The rare individual that seriously argues for a fictional/mythical Jesus does so despite heaps of corroborating historical documentation. Aside from the Bible (of which we have ~5, 000 ancient Greek manuscripts and fragments documenting eyewitness accounts), we also have documents from church fathers, Jewish historians, and Roman historians – all confirming Jesus’ real existence. The absurd notion of a fictional Jesus is modern creation put together by liberalism to subdue the holiness of God and heinousness of sin. Such a thing was never a consideration in the ancient world; it was widely believed that Jesus lived and was executed by Rome around 30 A.D.

Having established the reality of the person of Jesus, it’s helpful to also have a basic understanding of Jesus’ culture and religion: Judaism. For anyone unfamiliar with Jesus and His claims, this might seem a bit odd. After all, a follower of Jesus is not a Jew; they’re a Christian. Why would we seek to understand Judaism if we’re ultimately interested in Christianity? Our answer is already there in the phrase “Christian” – root word being “Christ”

It might surprise some that “Christ” is not the last name of Jesus. Developed from the Greek word Christos, meaning “anointed one,” this title was given to Jesus later in life. Those who walked with Jesus recognized His uniqueness. In time, they would realize just how unique He really was!

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