Note: Andrew Burns sponsored a series on Bible characters, going from A to Z, on his website and invited a number of people to choose a letter. I got in quickly and chose “J” for Jesus, without wanting to diminish, in any way, his preeminence by including him in the list of Bible characters. On the contrary, my desire was to honor him as the One and Only. The original post is located here. Now that time has elapsed, I’m posting the article on my own site. It’s below, as originally published.
Jesus is God in the flesh, unique, without sin, the perfect sacrifice for man’s restoration to God. Almost all information about him is found in the Bible. The reliable history of his life and mission are recorded in the four accounts of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, in the New Testament. There are but a few historical references to him outside of the Bible, but eyewitness accounts are found only there.
Jesus was born of a virgin. His deity is central to his mission and message, Jn 8.24. It is also part of the core gospel, demonstrating that attempts to pare down the gospel only to the death, burial, and resurrection are amiss.
His titles are many, to reflect the fullness of the Godhead in him; among them: Word, Son of God, Son of man, Messiah (=Christ, Anointed One), Immanuel (=God with us), Lord, Savior. The name Jesus means salvation.
Jesus came to earth with the mission of dying for mankind in order to free from sin and to reconcile man with the Father, Lk 19.10.
Jesus cured people as an act of compassion and to show that he had God’s approval. But his real interest was in forgiving people of sin and releasing them from its power, Mt 9.1-8.
Jesus offers himself as an example to be followed, Jn 13.1-17. His obedience calls us to obey. He wants his followers to die to self, just as he died for others on the cross, Mt 16.21-26; Lk 14.25-35. He wants them to serve as he did, Lk 22.24-27.
Jesus limited himself to speaking only the word of the Father who sent him, Jn 8.28; 12.49-50; 14.24. This is another example he sets for his followers.
Jesus seeks followers who will be his friends, brothers, and agents of his mission. He sends his people into the world to proclaim the Good News, Mt 28.18-20; Mk 16.15-16; Lk 24.44-49; Jn 20.21.
Jesus insisted that obedience was necessary to salvation, Mt 25.46; Jn 14.23. He affirmed that the Father’s commandment is eternal life, Jn 12.50, that is, obeying his commandment allows one to enter eternal life. “For the Son of Man will come with his angels in the glory of his Father and will judge all people according to their deeds” Mt 16.27 NLT. The final judgment will use people’s deeds as the basis for salvation or condemnation. To enter the kingdom, one must do the Father’s will, Mt 7.21. He gave the commandment of immersion as a condition to discipleship, Mt 28.19-20. One cannot call him Lord and then not do what he commands, Lk 6.46.
Jesus taught that repentance was essential to salvation, Lk 13.1-5. He sent his disciples to preach “repentance for the forgiveness of sins” Lk 24.47. He taught, as a part of the Great Commission, that baptism was essential to salvation, Mk 16.16; Jn 3.3, 5.
Jesus promised to build his church. This promise was fulfilled in Acts 2. Jesus said he would rise from the dead, and did so. Jesus said he would be present with his followers as they fulfilled his mission, Mt 28.20. In the book of Revelation, he shows himself present (especially chapters 2-3). Jesus promised to return a second time, so his promise is trustworthy, Jn 14.1-3. The Lord is faithful, 2Th 3.3; Hb 3.6.
Jesus is one with the Father. He prayed that followers might be one with them and united with each other, Jn 17. He intervened when disciples competed for first place among themselves, Lk 22.24ff. He does not permit division.
Jesus left his followers a pattern to follow, both in his own words and actions, as well as in his specific instructions for the church, Mt 18. Many instructions he left for the Holy Spirit to give to his chosen apostles and prophets, Jn 14.26; 15.26; 16.13. We have these instructions in the New Testament.
Jesus died in our place. He came “to give his life as a ransom for many” Mt 20.28; Mk 10.45. He suffered our penalty for sin, Isa 53.5.
Jesus will come again, not to live on earth, nor to suffer again, but he will appear in power and glory to take his followers with him to heaven, 1Th 4.13—5.11; 2Th 1.5-12; Hb 9.28; 2Pt 3.1-13. His coming will signal the end of the universe. All will be judged by his word, Jn 12.48.
Jesus is the focus of our faith. All that God has for man is in Christ, Ep 1.3; Cl 2.2-3, 9-10; 2Tm 2.10. We get into Christ by faith and immersion, Gl 3.26-27. He is our glory, our hope, and our joy.