When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, they became afraid and tried to hide from God. They knew they had disobeyed God and felt ashamed. They no longer wanted to have God in their lives. But God, in his love, sought them out and talked with them. God told them that they would surely be punished for their disobedience. But he also brought them a message of hope. He assured them that suffering and pain and death would not have the last word in their lives. They would not have to live forever in despair! Someday, God said, the evil one (Satan) who had deceived them would be completely crushed and destroyed. Satan would not have the final victory. God would!
The person who would accomplish this great victory was Jesus Christ. Jesus would not only destroy Satan, but he would also bring forgiveness and peace and would restore people to a loving and joyful relationship with God. Adam and Eve did not understand all of this, but God knew exactly what he was going to do in the future.
1. Who is Jesus?
Jesus is the eternal Son of God who came to earth as a human being. Before his birth, he existed from eternity as the “Word of God” through whom the world was created. As God’s beloved eternal Son, Jesus is one of the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity, along with the Father and the Holy Spirit.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made. . . . The Word became flesh and dwelt among us. (John 1:1, 3, 14)
By him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible . . . 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)
In these last days he [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He 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 1:2-3)
The heavens were opened to him [Jesus], and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matthew 3:16-17)
2. What else does the Bible tell us about Jesus?
Jesus willingly humbled himself and left his position in heavenly glory so that he could come to earth as a servant and give his life for the salvation of human beings. He did not seek to hold on to his position in heaven but freely laid it aside so that sinful human beings might find forgiveness for their sins and live with him forever in glory.
Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God . . . made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. (Philippians 2:6-8)
Jesus said: “[Father] I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world existed.” (John 17:4-5)
3. How did Jesus come into our world?
Jesus was born as a human baby to a Jewish virgin named Mary as the prophet Isaiah had prophesied hundreds of years earlier.
The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. (Isaiah 7:14)
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called 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)
Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. . . . All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet: “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). (Matthew 1:18-23)
The angel Gabriel was sent from God . . . to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph. . . . And the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “. . . You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great
and will be called the Son of the Most High . . . and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:26-33)
4. How was it possible for Mary to have a child as a virgin?
Mary conceived her child through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. Both Mary and her fiancé Joseph were totally surprised by the message of the angel who told them what was going to happen, but in humility and faith they accepted and believed what the angel had told them.
Mary said to the angel, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” And the angel answered her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy—the son of God.” (Luke 1:34-35)
An angel of the Lord appeared to him [Joseph] in a dream, saying, “Joseph son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.” (Matthew 1:20)
5. Where was Jesus born?
Jesus was born in a small town called Bethlehem, a few miles from Jerusalem, in the land of Israel. Because there was no room in the Bethlehem inn when Joseph and Mary came to the city from their home in Nazareth, Jesus was born in a cattle stall. By being born in
Bethlehem, Jesus fulfilled another Old Testament prophecy made several hundred years earlier by the prophet Micah.
But you, O Bethlehem . . . from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from of old, from ancient days. (Micah 5:2)
Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time
came for her to give birth. (Luke 2:4-6)
In the Bible, read the story of Jesus’ birth in Matthew 1:18-25 and Luke 2:1-20.
6. Why was he given the name Jesus?
Jesus was given his personal name because the name Jesus means Savior or God Saves. Mary and Joseph did not choose this name themselves. The name was given to them by the angel who told them about the child who was going to be born to Mary. The baby would be called Jesus because he would save his people from their sins.
The angel said to Joseph, “She [Mary] will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners. (1 Timothy 1:15)
7. Why is Jesus sometimes called “Christ” or “the Christ”?
Christ was originally more of a title than a personal name. The word Christ means “the anointed one.” It has the same meaning as the word Messiah in the Old Testament. In Old Testament times, a person was chosen by God for a special role such as a prophet, a priest or a king and was then anointed with oil in a special ceremony. Jesus was the Messiah (the Christ) promised in the Old Testament. He was anointed by the Holy Spirit as the greatest Prophet, our only High Priest and our eternal King.
Both in the New Testament and in church history we therefore read about Jesus, Jesus Christ, Christ or Christ Jesus. Each of these names is appropriate, and many people use one name or the other without giving specific thought to the meaning of each name. Other believers, however, are very careful to use one name rather than another, depending on the specific context in which the name is used.
Someone once said to Jesus, “I know that Messiah is coming (he who is called Christ). When he comes, he will tell us all things.” Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am he.” (John 4:25-26)
Jesus asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” (Matthew 16:15-16)
Martha said to Jesus, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” (John 11:27)
8. Was Jesus truly as human as we are?
Yes. Jesus had a human nature that was just like ours—except that he was perfectly sinless. Because he was truly human, Jesus was sometimes thirsty, hungry, tired, and in need of sleep. He could also be tempted by Satan (see Matthew 4:1-11). Because he was human, he not only could pay the penalty for our sins, but he can also understand our limitations, sympathize with our weaknesses, and understand when we fall. He also knows and understands our need for guidance, instruction, encouragement, comfort, and rest. He truly is a perfect Savior.
He [Jesus] had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might make propitiation for the sins of the people. (Hebrews 2:17)
Jesus the Son of God . . . in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:14-15)
He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. (1 Peter 2:22-23)
9. What did Jesus do while he was on the earth?
The Bible tells us very little about the first thirty years of Jesus’ life. During most of that time, he apparently lived with his parents and brothers and sisters in the city of Nazareth. Around the age of thirty, he began his public ministry, going through the towns of Israel, teaching and preaching, healing the sick, casting out demons, forgiving sins, raising the dead, and helping those who were in need.
Jesus went throughout all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction. (Matthew 9:35)
The blind receive their sight and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, and the dead are raised up, and the poor have good news preached to them. (Matthew 11:5)
Demons also came out of many, crying, “You are the Son of God!” (Luke 4:41)
To a notorious sinner who repented Jesus said, “Your sins are forgiven.” (Luke 7:48)
10. How did the people respond to the miracles and teachings of Jesus?
Many of the people were amazed. Some of them knew about Jesus’ family and wondered where he acquired his knowledge and his abilities. Others gladly followed him because of his powerful teaching and the wonderful miracles he performed. Many of the leaders opposed Jesus’ teaching and accused him of breaking traditional Jewish laws. However, large numbers of the common people, as well as some leaders, came to believe in him.
They were astonished beyond measure, saying, “He has done all things well.” (Mark 7:37)
Now when he [Jesus] was in Jerusalem at the Passover Feast, many believed in his name when they saw the signs that he was doing. (John 2:23)
Many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue. (John 12:42)
(For more extensive accounts of the life of Jesus, read Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John in the New Testament.)
11. Did everyone who saw Jesus’ miracles or who heard Jesus’ teachings believe in him?
No. Many of the Jewish leaders were jealous of Jesus and rejected him and his teachings. They knew about Jesus’ family and would not believe that Jesus had truly come down from heaven. They were especially upset by Jesus’ claim that he truly was the Son of God. Eventually they handed him over to Pontius Pilate, the Roman governor, to be put to death.
They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I came down from heaven’?” (John 6:42)
The high priest stood up and said [to Jesus]. .. “I adjure you by the living God, tell us if you are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus said to him, “You have said so.” (Matthew 26:62-64)
[Pilate] knew it was out of envy that they had delivered him [Jesus] up. (Matthew 27:18)
12. Did either the Jews or the Roman governor find any good reason to judge Jesus worthy of death?
No! The Jewish leaders tried hard to find reasons why Jesus should be put to death, but they couldn’t find any. Pilate, the Roman governor, also personally examined Jesus. After the examination, Pilate publicly announced that he found Jesus to be innocent of any wrongdoing.
The chief priests and the whole Council were seeking false evidence against Jesus that they might put him to death, but they found none, though many false witnesses came forward. (Matthew 26:59-60)
Pilate went out again and said to them [the Jews gathered there], “See, I am bringing him [Jesus] out to you that you may know that I find no guilt in him.” (John 19:4)
13. Why did Pilate finally decide to put Jesus to death even though he knew Jesus was innocent?
Jesus claimed to be the (spiritual) King of the Jews. The Jewish leaders persuaded Pilate that he would get into deep trouble with the Roman emperor if he let someone go free who claimed to be a king. The Jewish leaders made such an uproar that Pilate finally gave in to their demands and selfishly gave up on making a just decision.
Pilate sought to release him [Jesus], but the Jews cried out, “If you release this man, you are not Caesar’s friend. Everyone who makes himself a king opposes Caesar.” (John 19:12)
So when Pilate saw that he was gaining nothing, but rather that a riot was beginning, he took water and washed his hands before the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this man’s blood; see to it yourselves.” (Matthew 27:24)
14. How did Jesus die?
The Roman soldiers mocked Jesus, spit on him, beat him, put a crown of thorns on his head, and then led him away to a place called Golgotha where he was nailed to a wooden cross.
Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus . . . and they gathered the whole battalion before him. And they stripped him and put a scarlet robe on him, and twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on his head and put a reed in his right hand. And kneeling before him, they mocked him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” And they spit on him and took the reed and struck him on the head. And when they had mocked him, they stripped him of the robe and put his own clothes on him and led him away to crucify him. (Matthew 27:27-31)
And over his head they put the charge against him, which read, “This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.” (Matthew 27:37)
It was now about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour, while the sun’s light failed. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two. Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” And having said this he breathed his last. (Luke 23:44-46)
15. What happened to Jesus’ body after he died?
Joseph, a secret follower of Jesus and a prominent member of the highest Jewish Council, received permission from Pilate to take Jesus’ body down from the cross. He and a man named Nicodemus lovingly wrapped the body in a linen cloth, placed it in Joseph’s own new
tomb, and rolled a big stone in front of the tomb.
Joseph of Arimathea, who was a disciple of Jesus, but secretly for fear of the Jews, asked Pilate that he might take away the body of Jesus, and Pilate gave him permission. So he came and took away his body. Nicodemus also, who earlier had come to Jesus by night, came bringing a mixture of myrrh and aloes . . . So they took the body of Jesus and bound it in linen cloths with the spices. (John 19:38-39)
Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen shroud and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had cut in the rock. And he rolled a great stone to the entrance of the tomb and went away. (Matthew 27:59-60)
16. Did Jesus’ body stay in the grave?
No! After three days Jesus arose from the dead and came out of the tomb in which he had been placed by Joseph and Nicodemus. A violent earthquake took place and an angel came down from heaven, rolled away the stone which had been in front of Jesus’ tomb, and sat on it. When some of Jesus’ followers came to the tomb to anoint the body of Jesus, they saw that the stone was rolled away, the tomb was empty, and an angel was there to tell them what had happened. (Note: The angel did not roll away the stone so that Jesus could get out. He rolled away the stone so that others could see that the tomb was empty.)
Now after the Sabbath, toward the dawn of the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. He is not here, for he has risen, as he said.” (Matthew 28:1-6)
God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Acts 2:24)
Christ died for our sins . . . was buried . . . was raised on the third day . . . Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:3-6)
(If you have a Bible, read the story of Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection in Matthew 27 and 28, Mark 15 and 16, Luke 23 and 24, and John 19 and 20.)
17. If Jesus was sinless, why did he have to die?
Jesus died in our place. He took on himself the punishment that we deserved. Only Jesus, the perfect and sinless Son of God, could pay the penalty for the sins of others. God the Father, out of love for us, directed his Son to die in order to save sinners. Jesus obeyed his Father in order to glorify God and save us. In his incredible love and grace, Jesus willingly gave his life so that we who put our trust in him will have eternal life in his glorious presence.
Jesus said, “I lay down my life for the sheep. . . . No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” (John 10:14,18)
The night before he died, Jesus said, “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.” (John 14:31)
The wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)
This is love: not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. (1 John 4:10)
For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16)
18. What did Jesus do after he arose from the grave?
For forty days he stayed on earth to prove to his followers that he was truly alive and also to give them further instructions. During those forty days he appeared to his disciples on various occasions and also to more than five hundred others at the same time.
He [Jesus] presented himself alive to them [his disciples] after his suffering by many proofs, appearing to them during forty days and speaking about the kingdom of God. (Acts 1:3)
He appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time. (1 Corinthians 15:6)
Jesus came and said to them [his disciples], “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18- 20)
19. What did Jesus do after the forty days?
Jesus returned to heaven where he now rules over all things in heaven and on earth.
So then the Lord Jesus, after he had spoken to them [his disciples], was taken up into heaven and sat down at the right hand of God. (Mark 16:19)
While he [Jesus] blessed them [his disciples], he parted from them and was carried up into heaven. (Luke 24:51)
[God] raised [Jesus] from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he [God] put all things under his [Jesus’] feet and gave him as head over all things to the church. (Ephesians 1:20-22)
20. Is Jesus ever going to come back to earth again?
Yes! Someday Jesus will return to earth and will gather all believers to live with him forever.
Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” (John 14:2-3)
And while they [the disciples] were gazing into heaven as he [Jesus] went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “. . . This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.” (Acts 1:10-11)
1. What did God promise in Genesis 3:15? Did Adam and Eve understand what God promised them?
God promised that he would put enmity between the woman (Eve) and her offspring and the serpent (Satan) and his offspring. There would be continual strife between Satan and his allies and all the descendants of Eve throughout human history. However, Eve’s descendants would not live forever in separation from God and his blessing. Satan would not be victorious forever. One specific person, a descendant of Eve, would someday crush the head of the serpent, destroying his power. This person was Jesus Christ, God’s eternal Son. Jesus would someday make provision for Adam and Eve’s descendants to again live happily and joyfully with the God whom they had disobeyed.
However, though Satan would be crushed (defeated, destroyed), he would also cause much harm to the woman’s descendants and would bring pain and suffering and even death to Jesus himself. The “heel” of the woman’s seed would be “struck” by Satan, but Jesus and His followers would be eternally victorious.
Adam and Eve would not have understood all of this. The full meaning and significance of the promise of Genesis 3:15 would not be understood at any time before the coming of Jesus. However, the promise was there to give hope to everyone who trusted the Word of God in spite of all kinds of trials and fears and uncertainties in their lives.
Other passages in the Bible teach some of the same truths found in Genesis 3:15.
Revelation 12:1-17 gives a special picture of the birth of Jesus and the tremendous conflict that followed. Verse 17 reads: “Then the dragon became furious with the woman and went off to make war on the rest of her offspring, on those who keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus.” The following chapters in the book of Revelation clearly indicate that Jesus and those who believe in him will be eternally victorious.
The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. (Romans 16:20)
Since therefore the children [human beings] share in flesh and blood, he himself (Jesus) likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14)
The devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil. (1 John 3:8)
2. What do John 1:1-3 and Colossians 1:16-17 teach us about Jesus?
These passages clearly teach us that Jesus Christ was truly God in the flesh. Jesus is called the WORD of God who was with God and was God. Jesus was also the creator of our world. Nothing was made without him. All things were made for him as well as by him. He is before all things and he is the One in whom the entire world holds together (Colossians 1:17).
These verses are among the strongest and clearest statements in the Bible that Jesus was and is truly God. Though Jesus himself was visible with a human body, he is called the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation—that is, the One with authority and prestige and honor (Colossians 1:15). Some cults teach that John 1:1 teaches that Jesus was “a god” rather than GOD in the flesh. However, the original Greek of this passage does not support this heresy. Moreover, if Jesus was simply “a god” who is to be worshiped and honored alongside of the one true God, then the Bible would repeatedly contradict itself since it teaches us in many places that there is only one true God who is worthy of worship and praise. John 1:14 teaches: 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. And in John 1:18 we read: No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. Other passages confirm this same truth about the deity of Christ. For example, in Titus 2:13 we read of our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:1 speaks of the righteousness of our God and Savior Jesus Christ. Paul teaches in Philippians 2:6 that before coming to earth as a human, Jesus was in the form of God. Revelation 1:17 describes Jesus as the first and the last and Revelation 21:6 and 22:13 refer to him as the Alpha and the Omega (titles also applied to God; see Revelation 1:8). Isaiah 9:6 refers to the coming Messiah (Jesus) as Mighty God. These exact same words are used in Isaiah 10:21 to refer to the only true God.
3. What does the Bible tell us about the birth of Jesus and the family of Jesus?
Jesus was born to a young virgin named Mary in the city of Bethlehem in the land of Israel. God sent an angel to Mary and told her that she, though a virgin, would give birth to a baby boy. The angel told Mary that the child would be conceived by the Holy Spirit of God without any involvement on the part of any man. After the angel came to Mary and told her about the coming birth of her child, he went to a man named Joseph who was engaged to Mary. Joseph was a humble and God-fearing carpenter in the city of Nazareth where both he and Mary lived. The angel told Joseph that Mary had become pregnant through the work of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was shocked by the announcement and planned to break off his relationship with Mary quietly to protect both Mary and the baby. However, the angel told Joseph that he should marry Mary but that they should not live together as husband and wife until after the baby was born. Joseph and Mary accepted the message of the angel and did what he told them.
Because both Joseph and Mary were in the line of King David, they had to go the city of David called Bethlehem to enroll and pay taxes. Bethlehem was about 70 miles away from Nazareth. Joseph and pregnant Mary made the long journey together. When the young couple came to Bethlehem, they found that there were so many visitors in town that there was no place for them to stay. An innkeeper offered a stable for a resting place for them and it was here in this very humble place that Jesus was born. Mary and Joseph later had to flee to the land of Egypt with their baby boy to escape the wrath of King Herod who tried to kill Jesus. Herod was very jealous of Jesus and saw him as a potential threat to his throne. After King Herod died, Mary and Joseph and Jesus returned to Israel and went to the city of Nazareth where Jesus lived until he was about 30 years old. See Matthew 1 and 2 and Luke 1-3 for additional information about the birth, family, and ancestry of Jesus.
Sometime after Jesus was born, Mary gave birth to a number of sons and daughters with whom Jesus grew up. (See Matthew 13:55-56). Roman Catholics, however, believe that Mary stayed a virgin for her entire life, so they teach that the persons referred to as Jesus’ “brothers” and “sisters” were really his cousins or possibly children of Joseph by an earlier marriage. But the Bible does not teach this.
The birth of Jesus was clearly foretold in various passages of the Old Testament. Isaiah 7:14 foretells that the coming Messiah would be born to a virgin. Micah 5:2 foretells that the Messiah (or Christ) would be born in Bethlehem. Both Matthew and Luke tell us that Jesus was born in the family line of King David. Matthew 1 focuses on the family history of Joseph who was regarded as the legal father of Jesus while Luke gives us the family history of Mary.
4. What does Philippians 2:5-7 teach us about Jesus?
This passage teaches that the person we know in history as Jesus of Nazareth actually lived in heaven as the Son of God before he came to earth. However, he voluntarily gave up his glory and many of his privileges and appeared on this earth in the form of a human baby. He came to earth as a servant so that he might redeem men from punishment and enable all those who believed in him to inherit eternal life.
When Jesus was on earth, therefore, he was truly a human person just like all other humans except for the important fact that he was completely without sin of any kind. At the same time, he was also the eternal Son of God who frequently exhibited divine knowledge, wisdom, and power. Sometimes his life clearly demonstrated his humanity. For example, he became tired, hungry, and thirsty, and experienced suffering, pain, rejection, sorrow, and misunderstanding. At other times he demonstrated that he was also divine as he healed the sick, raised the dead, multiplied food for the multitudes, knew what people were thinking, foretold the future, and forgave sinners.
In the Gospel accounts, therefore, we find passages which clearly show that Jesus did “empty” himself of some of his divine prerogatives—as taught Philippians 2:5-7. In reading other stories in the Gospels, however, we recognize that Jesus, though human, was also divine. We should never forget either Jesus’ humanity or his divinity.
5. What does Philippians 2:10-11 teach us about Jesus?
Someday Jesus will be glorified by all people who have ever lived. They will bow down before him and recognize and acknowledge who he is and what he did. Everyone will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. This will be a fantastic time when all those who ignored Jesus or opposed him or doubted him or denied him or defamed him will openly and publicly acknowledge that Jesus is truly the Lord of lords and the King of kings. This does not mean that everyone will be saved. Many will not be. However, Jesus will finally receive the recognition and honor due him as the Son of God and the Son of Man— true God and true man—who is worthy of glory and honor and praise forever.
6. What does Isaiah 7:14 teach about the coming Savior?
Isaiah lived about 700 years before the birth of Christ. He foretold that the Savior to come would be born of a virgin and would be called Immanuel, which means God with us. Though many people living in Isaiah’s time may not have understood the full significance of Isaiah’s prediction, Matthew 1:22-23 clearly states that Jesus’ birth fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy. Since Matthew wrote first of all to the Jewish people, he emphasized how the birth of Jesus fulfilled the prophecy of one of their best known prophets (Isaiah). Luke also indicates that Mary was a virgin when she became pregnant with her child (Luke 1:26-35). In Luke’s account we have the clear statement that he would be called the Son of the Most High.
7. When Jesus was on earth, he did many mighty and wonderful miracles. Why did so many people oppose him and reject him when he did so many good things?
The ones who were strongest in opposing Jesus were usually people with some kind of religious authority. A group called Sadducees opposed Jesus since Jesus accepted the entire Old Testament as the Word of God and they didn’t. They may also have seen Jesus as someone who was upsetting the Roman authorities with whom they (the wealthy Sadducees) often had a good relationship. The Pharisees often opposed Jesus because many of them were self-righteous and felt that they did not need Jesus for anything. (See, for example, Luke 18:11-12.) They also saw Jesus as someone who frequently broke God’s law (as they understood it) and, in their minds, was therefore leading the people astray. (See, for example, Matthew 9:11, 12:2; Matthew 12:24; Matthew 15:1-2; and many others.) The Pharisees also were alarmed and jealous that Jesus was becoming increasingly popular (John 4:1; John 7:32). They felt that Jesus was standing in the way of their own personal goals for power and authority. They were also disturbed because of the things Jesus taught about money, since the Pharisees were lovers of money (Luke 16:14.) Jesus therefore strongly warned the people against the teachings of the Pharisees and the Sadducees (Matthew 16:6, 11, 12). Because of their hypocrisy and self-righteousness, Jesus frequently spoke against them, thus arousing them to even greater anger and hatred. (See, for example, Jesus’ exceedingly strong statements in Matthew 23:1-36.)
Some of the common people also disbelieved in Jesus (John 5:38, 6:36, 10:26, 12:37), partly because of the influence of the religious leaders. However, many others eagerly followed Jesus and believed in him. They listened to what he taught, rejoiced in his miracles, and followed him from one place to another. (See, for example, Matthew 4:25, 7:25, 8:1, 13:2, 19:2, 21:9; Mark 2:12, 6:2; 10:l; Luke 5:15, 8:42, 11:29, 14:25; John 2:22-23, 4:39, 4:53, 7:31,32, 10:42, 12:42, 16:27). The people did not always follow Jesus for the right
reasons, but many of them were deeply impressed with what he said and did, and they followed him wherever he went.
Eventually, it was the Jewish religious leaders who convinced the Roman authorities that Jesus should be put to death. (See John 7:32; Matthew 26:57, 59.)
8. Why do many people reject or oppose Jesus today?
There are many different reasons why so many people oppose or reject Jesus. Some people know very little about him, and what they claim to know is often not true. Other people think that Jesus’ claims for himself (the Son of God, the Savior of the world, the only way to God) are far too strong. Others believe that the teachings of Jesus are not as good and as helpful as the things they have been taught all their lives by their parents and teachers.
Some believe that the Bible is not trustworthy or true. Still others do not like (or agree with) Jesus’ teachings about sin and everyone’s need to repent and confess their sins to a holy and righteous God. Many others teach that Jesus was far too strict and are very displeased with his condemnation of many of the vices they enjoy. Jesus also stressed that no one can come to the Father except through himself, and that seems to them to be very arrogant and self-centered and far too restrictive. Many people feel absolutely no need for a Savior, since they consider their own lives to be “good enough” to earn for themselves a place in heaven. Many people have never read most of the Bible and look upon it as something of an “antique” which has little relevance for people who live in the 21st century. They do not like the Bible’s teaching about creation or its emphasis on man’s selfishness and basic sinfulness. So, since they don’t have a sense of need, they do not look for or long for a way out of their need. If there really is a God, they are quite sure that they don’t have any reason to fear him or his judgment. They are quite confident they can do all that might be necessary without the help of anyone else. These are some common reasons why so many people today do not believe in Jesus as the only way to salvation or why they do not believe that they even need salvation.
9. Why did a perfect Savior have to die, even though he was totally sinless?
Jesus did not die because of anything he had done or failed to do. He lived a perfect life with absolutely no sin or failure of any kind. Precisely because he was sinless himself, he did not have to atone for any of his own sins AND he was able to die in our place as a perfect substitute for us. Hebrews 4:15 reads: We do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. 2 Corinthians 5:21 teaches: For our sake he made him [Jesus ]to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him [Jesus] we might become the righteousness of God. And in Hebrews 2:14-17 we read: Since therefore the children [human beings] share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. . . . 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.
10. If you had only 20 minutes to talk to someone about Jesus, what are some of the things you would tell them?
Different Christians might emphasize different things. Some of them will emphasize those truths about Jesus which were particularly significant in their own conversion. Others might emphasize some important truths which they feel are sometimes neglected. Still others might emphasize truths about Jesus which are often misunderstood or misrepresented. The answer to this question depends somewhat on who you are and on whom you are telling about Jesus.
In general, however, it is important to include most of the following teachings—as time and circumstances permit. Jesus is the eternal and uncreated Son of God. He came to earth as a Jewish baby born to a Jewish virgin named Mary, who became pregnant through a special act of the Holy Spirit. Jesus had no earthly father, but he was brought up in the home of a carpenter named Joseph, who married Mary after she became pregnant. Jesus lived for about 33 years in the land of Israel, where he taught large numbers of people, performed many wonderful miracles, lived a perfect, sinless life, and eventually died on a cross at the hands of Roman soldiers. Though Jesus was declared to be perfectly innocent by a Roman official, the jealous religious leaders of the Jewish people persuaded the Roman governor to hand Jesus over to the soldiers to be crucified. After three days, Jesus rose again from the dead, remained on earth for 40 more days, demonstrating that he had conquered death and teaching about God’s kingship. Then he returned in glory to his Father in heaven where he reigns over the entire world. Because Jesus was perfectly sinless, he willingly and voluntarily died on the cross as a substitute to pay the penalty for the sins of all those who put their faith and trust in him. Someday Jesus will come back to earth again to judge all people and to reign forever in glory with all those who loved and trusted and served him.