Who was Jesus and What was He all about?

Was Jesus just a teacher with good advice? A revolutionary? Or a relaxed friend who wants us to take it easy? These modern caricatures are far from who he really is; Messiah, sacrifice, God and giver of life.

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Over two and a half millenia ago, a mountain kingdom on the Jordan River faced conquest and extermination from the sprawling Assyrian Empire. The prophet Isaiah watned his fellow Israelite countrymen not to put their hope in the deals they might be able to make with Egypt but to put their hope in God. Isaiah spoke of an ‘anointed’ person who would right the wrongs of the world. One day a Messiah/Christ (these are Hebrew/Greek words meaning ‘anointed one’) would come with good news for the poor. He would come to set prisoners free, bring sight to the blind, and announce ‘the year of the Lord’s favour’. Centuries later, Jesus began His ministry by reading from the scroll of Isaiah’s prophecy and claiming to be the fulfillment of it. Jesus comes to us as Messiah because we’re people who need rescuing. We need rescuring from the forces of evil oppressing the world, from the problems we’re drowning in, and from ourselves.

The Messiah rescues the world from the power of evil by sacrificing Himself. There’s a pattern of sacrifice in the Bible. It began in Genesis when Adam and Eve decided to take it upon themselves to know what good and evil are rather than trust God’s guidance. This helps us to understand what ‘sin’ means. It isn’t just doing something forbidden; it’s the desire to make ourselves our own gods, instead of honouring God who made us and to whom we belong. When Adam and Eve ate the fruit, their eyes were opened, and they saw what they had done was shameful. They hid their nakedness with leaves, but God clothed them with animal skin: the first sacrifice. Shame was covered by sacrifice.

This pattern continued. The priests of Israel offered sacrifices on behalf of the people. Animals like lambs were believed to take human’s sin when sacrificed to save the human from God’s curse. But the Old Testament sacrifices don’t end the problem of sin. The sacrifices point to the biblical message that God will do something to take away our shame and rescue us from death, but it will come at a great cost. The biblical theme of sacrifice finds its fulfilment in Jesus. Jesus is the true sacrificial lamb that can take away the sins of the world. Jesus willingly embraced death, the wages of sin, so that He could make a way through death to life. The consequences aren’t brushed away, but Jesus opens a way through them by offering us the life that conquers death.

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Jesus’ unique status as a man, who is also God, is the reason He’s able to be a successful Messiah and sacrifice. Back when Isaiah and his countrymen were facing conquest at the hands of the Assyrians, Isaiah hoped for a better future. He hoped for an anointed king who would one day save his people, but those hopes were inseparable from his belief that God would visit and rescue. It wasn’t just a man that would save Israel, it was God himself! Fast forward a few hundred years and the Gospel writer, Mark, reminds his readers of Isaiah’s prophacy. He describes how John the Baptist lived in the wilderness preparing people for a Mighty One who was coming to baptise with the Holy Spirit. Jesus subsequently arrives and Mark spends the rest of his book telling us about how Jesus frees the world from evil and suffering by giving His life. He tells us how Jesus accomplishes these incredible things: He’s the Lord God who’s come to visit His people to renew the earth and reveal God’s glory. 

So, who is Jesus? He’s the Messiah who came to rescue the world from evil by giving His life. He’s God, who conquered death, and He’s the creator and sustainer of life who came to share His life with us. Want to talk to a real person about what you’ve read here today? 

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