The most important question you will ever answer in your life is, “Who do you say Jesus is?” (Matthew 16:13) Simply put, we believe Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, True God and True Man, come into the world to save us, make us His, and give us life. The Roman historian Tacitus records in history that a man named Jesus of Nazareth was crucified under Pontius Pilate 2,000 years ago. It is not a question of whether a man named Jesus once lived 2,000 years ago, the question is, who is he?
Many people want to say that Jesus was simply a good teacher or had some wise things to say about living, like Buddha, Confucius, the Dalai Lama, a philosopher, or some other famous ‘wise’ person. Others might say He was simply a prophet or miracle-worker. Others might call Him a revolutionary or one with much compassion for the poor and hurting, like Mother Teresa.
But who does Jesus say He is? Jesus says He is much more than simply a prophet, good person, moral teacher, or someone who does miracles. Jesus says He is none other than God Himself, the ‘I AM.’ (John 8:58). He is the one who was, who is, and who ever shall be. Jesus also said He is, ‘the light of the world’ (John 8:12), and “the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:6). Jesus is the only way to life and salvation from our sins.
Peter correctly answers Jesus question ‘who do you say I am?’ with the words, “You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God” (Matthew 16:16). Jesus is God but is also called the Son of God, the second person of the Holy Trinity – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
The very name of Jesus means ‘salvation’, or ‘The Lord saves.’ He was also given the name ‘Immanuel’ at His birth, which means ‘God with us!’ Thank goodness that the true God is one who is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love! He is a God who comes to be with us and saves us!
Why did He come into the world? What was His mission?
John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His one and only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Although He is God and the King and Creator of the universe, He loved us so much to become one of us and lived the perfect life we could never live and died the perfect death to pay our deserved punishment for all of our sins. In Jesus, God takes all His wrath for our sins out on Himself! Through His life, death, and resurrection we have forgiveness, eternal life, and the certain hope of the resurrection on the Last Day and a restored creation forever.
The Christian Church for centuries has affirmed and confessed that Jesus is their Lord and Savior with the words of Apostle’s Creed. The section about Jesus states, “I believe in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord, who was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the virgin Mary, suffered under Pontius Pilate, was crucified, died, and was buried. He descended into hell. The third day He rose again from the dead. He ascended into heaven and sits at the right hand of God the Father Almighty. From thence He will come to judge the living and the dead.”
Martin Luther in His small catechism gives a wonderful explanation of what this means: “I believe that Jesus Christ, true God, begotten of the Father from all eternity, and also true man, born of the Virgin Mary, is my Lord — who has redeemed me, a lost and condemned person, purchased me and won me from all sins, from death, and from the power of the devil; not with gold or silver, but with His holy precious blood and with His innocent suffering and death — that I may be His own and live under Him in His kingdom, and serve Him in everlasting righteousness, innocence, and blessedness, just as He is risen from the dead, lives and reigns to all eternity. This is most certainly true.
Does Jesus come today?
Jesus didn’t stay dead but rose victorious from the grave over the powers of sin, death, and hell. He then ascended into heaven where He reigns over the world, and is our advocate before the Father (1 John 2:1). Jesus comes to us still today through the presence of His Holy Spirit. His Holy Spirit is in and works through the hearts of believers, where His Word and Gospel is proclaimed, and where His sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion are administered.
Will Jesus come again?
Jesus will return on the Last Day to judge the living and the dead and to give eternal life to all who believe in Him. Believers do not need to fear His wrath because their sins are forgiven.
How do I receive this forgiveness and life from Jesus?
At the end of his gospel, John writes, “These are written that you might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you might have life in His name” (John 20:31) Life in Jesus is given by grace as a gift through Holy Baptism (Romans 6:4), and through putting your faith in Jesus as your Lord and Savior (John 3:16).