NOTE: This is the second in a series on the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s, The Essentials of our Faith. Scriptural proofs can be found elsewhere. These posts will focus on the “why” and the impact of these statements in our lives.
I think the argument can be made that no person in the history of the world has had as much of an impact as Jesus of Nazareth. We mark time before and after him (yes, I know that CE/BCE are the now the primary means of marking time, but they are the same as BC and AD). It is safe to say that no other person has had as much written about him or has been studied so thoroughly. His birth, life, and death have been studied, debated, and marveled at. Jesus is a name that brings a reaction in those who hear the name and in those who say the name. Regardless of your worldview, everyone must admit that this Jesus of Nazareth, was at the very least a remarkable individual.
For those of us who seek to follow Jesus we believe some very specific things about him. Check out the Evangelical Presbyterian Church’s statement about him,
Jesus Christ, the living Word, became flesh through His miraculous conception by the Holy Spirit and His virgin birth. He who is true God became true man united in one Person forever. He died on the cross a sacrifice for our sins according to the Scriptures. On the third day He arose bodily from the dead, ascended into heaven where, at the right hand of the Majesty on High, He now is our High Priest and Mediator.
We believe that this Jesus was unique in all of history. We believe that he was not simply a man, but fully God too. Those who are called Christians seek to live as he did. We trust him for forgiveness, redemption, and reconciliation. We see in him the ideal man and gracious God. We know him to be majestic, holy, real, and humble. There is in this Jesus a strength and wisdom that is beyond our comprehension yet, we are drawn to know him more.
He is our mediator and high priest. Jesus, we believe, stands at the right hand of God and in the gap for us. As the accuser speaks against us, he mediates for us. His life, death, and resurrection have reconciled us to the Godhead. These have made it possible for us to be united into the people of God.
All this can be ultimately summed up in one single phrase, “Jesus is Lord.” It is this reality, this truth that all who call themselves Christian can proclaim together without question.
So what? Why does any of this matter?
If you remove Jesus from Christianity, there is no Christianity. You’re thinking, “Well duh, that’s what Christianity is, moron.” But more than that, if Jesus didn’t rise from the dead then there is no Christianity. Christianity becomes the biggest lie every perpetrated on humanity. If there was no God-man who lived, died, and rose again, then we are still in our sin. There is no hope of reconciliation to us and the Godhead.
Jesus is the center of who we are as Christians. He is our big brother, our model for living. He is our teacher. He is our redeemer and the one reconciles us.
Jesus shows us how to offer forgiveness and live it out. He points to the sacrificial nature of giving ourselves fully in relationship to another.
Jesus shows us how to subvert the empires of this world through truth,grace, mercy, love, and faith. He shows us that to change the world we need not a sword but grace and truth.
We live in a time where our brokenness is on full display. In times like this we must speak truth and grace. Conflict must be entered into. The one who is following Christ does not shy away from the difficult conversations. She doesn’t run from them. She enters in, completely and fully. As she does, she seeks truth and speaks it. Grace, mercy, and love are the context. All of this is what we learned from Jesus. All of this was perfectly portrayed in him.
At the end of the day, it matters because as we embrace Jesus as Lord we embrace the mission of reconciliation. We discover our purpose and our identity.
Why does it matter that we “get Jesus right?” Because it is in him we find who we are and what we are to do. In him we are freed from shame and guilt. In him we find ourselves.