Jesus never wrote a book, never went to university, never travelled far from his home town, never held a political office, and never made much money. Yet this Jewish carpenter has altered the course of history, with billions of people devoting their lives to him across centuries, countries, and cultures.
who IS HE?
Jesus claimed to be the Son of God. He said he could forgive sins. He said that one day he would judge the world and that what would matter then would be how we had responded to him in his life.
This is a huge claim! Consider it for a moment... Christians don't believe Jesus was just a good moral teacher. Someone who just taught people how to live well and love others. They believe he is God - all-powerful, all-knowing, completely 'other' - who was born as a helpless baby. Lived, ate, slept, just like the rest of us.
C.S. Lewis, who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, writes,
"A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be [insane] - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell... Either this man was, and is, the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse... but let us not come with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
Jesus didn't give the option of only being a great moral teacher to us. That's not what he claimed about himself. He claimed he was the Son of God - God made flesh.
But, of course, he was also a great teacher. Many people, of all faiths and none, regard Jesus to be an incredible example of a life of selfless love, who taught others to live in the same way.
"I believe there is no one lovelier, deeper, more sympathetic, and more perfect than Jesus. I say to myself, with jealous love, that not only is there no one else like him, but there could never be anyone like him."
What did he come for?
We were created to live in relationship. We can tell this simply by looking at how people live all across the world - with others. It's why we seek friendships, partners, and lovers. It's why, throughout history, humans have formed societies and gathered together.
According to the Bible though, we weren't just created to live in relationship with anyone, but to live in relationship with God. That's the story of Adam and Eve and the Garden of Eden. But humanity turned its back on God, believing it could do better on its own.
At that moment, a chasm of emptiness entered humanity and it has corrupted us and the world around us. We've been trying to fill that chasm, in all sorts of ways, ever since. Maybe you've attempted to fill it with money or power. Maybe with drugs, alcohol, or sex. Maybe with success - whether in music, sport, or work. All of us, to some extent, try to fill it with human relationships.
Some of these things aren't even bad for us. The problem is that it's only God that can satisfy the emptiness and rescue us. It's only God that can renew this broken world.
And so Jesus came to do exactly that - to rescue people and renew all things. His perfect life, sacrificial death, and victorious resurrection means the captives will be set free, the wounded will be healed, and our sin, guilt, and shame will be removed. It means that one day everything sad will come untrue. He came to bring about what the Bible calls the Kingdom of God. Tim Keller says this,
"The Kingdom of God, the new heaven and new earth, [is] a healed creation... absolute wholeness and well-being - physically, spiritually, socially, and economically... That is the Kingdom of God - complete healing of all the relationships in creation. We will be reconciled to God; to nature; to one another; and to ourselves."
WHY IS IT GOOD NEWS for me?
Jesus offers to satisfy that emptiness in our lives - to satisfy our desire for meaning and purpose; to satisfy our desire for life beyond death; to satisfy our desire for forgiveness for the things we all do wrong.
Jesus offers us freedom from things - freedom from sin, guilt, and shame; freedom from addiction; freedom from fear. But he also offers us freedom for things - freedom to be in relationship with God; freedom to love; freedom to change.
And Jesus promises that, one day, he will renew all things and bring about his Kingdom - that absolute wholeness and well-being that Tim Keller spoke about.
How do we respond?
By surrendering our lives and following Him. By repenting of the things we've done wrong and trusting in his grace and forgiveness.
This message, this good news about what God has done for us, is the heart of Christianity.
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