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Friday, March 23, 2018

Look Deeper by Jim Squires

Who is this Jesus?

Our calendar is dated by the year of His birth. Inaccurately but nonetheless used as the beginning of the modern era.

Many connect with Him as a young baby born under difficult circumstances in a faraway place.

He was the son of a Jewish carpenter and his young bride. However, there is much more to that story. He had younger brothers and sisters although some suggest they were older than Him.

The account of His birth is one set in political intrigue, international recognition and unusual stellar activity. The death of many baby boys resulted in a search to find Him. His parents fled abroad to rescue Him from harm. Only after the death of the king could his parents return to their sleepy little town in Israel.

When He began His ministry many years later, He announced in the synagogue that His actions that day were a fulfillment of a prophecy of Isaiah. This announcement reminded people of the year of Jubilee. The reaction to His statement was an attempt to kill Him by throwing Him off a cliff. As His ministry continued, He performed things that only can be described as legitimate miracles.

As recognition increased, so did opposition by the religious elite. His anger was ignited when He saw the temple in Jerusalem being turned into a market place rather than a place of worship.

One of His followers later wrote that the acts of kindness and accounts of His gracious behavior were so extensive they couldn’t be recorded in writing.

The nature of the miracles He was able to perform was wide-ranging. He actually walked on the Sea of Galilee on unfrozen water! He spoke and nature responded in the calming of a storm. He had power over evil sinister forces that left people in fear. The first time He used these wide ranging powers was in a social setting when His mother told those at a wedding feast to talk to Him when they ran out of wine.

A Samaritan woman brought out a lesson on true worship. Confrontations over taxes were addressed by noting whose image was on the coins used in monetary exchange. A question of who was John the Baptist was asked to point to God’s workings. The wisdom He showed was in knowing and believing God’s Word. This was something He showed at an early age in the temple with religious scholars.

He was clear in His teaching. He contrasted what was taught by the scribes to what He taught by saying “you have heard it said… but I say to you…”

Near the end of His three-plus year ministry He went to Jerusalem knowing He would die. He instituted the “Last Supper.” Later, the same night, He was betrayed by a disciple, arrested and tried under false accusations and crucified under Roman law.

Even the guard recognized His crucifixion was unjust. He was crucified with two others who were criminals. Even in His last hours He showed kindness to others. Events following His death were notable and unusual. There was darkness during the day, an earthquake and the temple curtain was torn apart. Dead people actually came back to life!

Who is this Jesus? Based on solid evidence, He is who Scripture tells us: He is the Son of God!

Within 40 years we see the Jewish temple destroyed by the Roman army. This is an event He spoke of. The Jewish place of worship was destroyed and unthinkable things took place. Over a million Jews were killed and over one hundred thousand went into captivity. Again as He had said.

This Jesus taught with wisdom of Scriptures. He was killed by crucifixion and was removed from the cross as a dead body. He was buried in a guarded new tomb. Yet, He arose from the dead. There were eye witnesses. Once over 500 of them. He was seen repeatedly, talked with people and ate with them.

Events that took place on Pentecost several weeks after His death and resurrection were explained by his follower Simon Peter in front of thousands. When people realized what they had done they asked “Men and brethren, what should we do?”

 In response Peter told them to repent and be baptized for the forgiveness of sins and they would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. And respond they did. Thousands that day and thousands more in the days following.

Thus began the church, which is under the rule and reign of Christ in the kingdom of God.

Who is Jesus? In the Islamic Holy Book, the Koran or Qur’an, Jesus is mentioned 25 times. The prophet Mohammed is mentioned 5 times in those same writings. The conclusion drawn by scholars is that all Muslims must become Christians because that is what the Qur’an teaches.

There is no way to heaven except through Jesus. The answer to the question of “Who is this Jesus?” He is the Way, the Truth and the life!

Jim Squires preaches at the Church of Christ. He is actively engaged in the community in his retirement.

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