Bethlehem was an insignificant city. We only remember her name because of a child born in a dirty barn next to animals.
The child’s mother was a scared teenage girl, written off as a “loose” woman. It was in these humble conditions that Scripture teaches “God became flesh.” They called Him Jesus, which means “God is salvation.”
Jesus grew up in Galilee. People in the city often joked, “can anything good come from Galilee?” It was a blue-collar town on the wrong side of the tracks. Jesus spent His life in Galilee swinging a hammer as a carpenter. He never held a political office. He never wrote a book. He never married. He never attended college.
At age 30 everything changed. Jesus began to travel and minister to people. Great crowds began following Him. No one had ever spoken like Him before. He would preach and teach and perform miracles.
Religious people hated Him because He set people free from the religious banter and rituals of the day. They killed Jesus at the age of 33. He died homeless and poor.
Three years of public life is all Jesus has on His resume. Yet, no human has ever accomplished so much in any amount of time. The influence of Jesus has changed our world. We even divide history by His life. More songs have been written about Him, art commissioned of Him, books written about Him, and buildings built in honor of Him than any other person who has ever lived.
When we survey the death, evil, and injustice that plague our world, and then hear that it was made by God, we could rush to conclude that the world reflects the evil nature of God. However, the Bible tells us exactly the opposite, namely that God is holy, without any sin, and only altogether good. In fact, the holiness of God is His most frequently mentioned attribute in Scripture (Isaiah 6:3).
Not only is God good, but everything God made was originally good, including human beings, who were made in God’s image and likeness (Genesis 1:27, 31).
Sin is us separating ourselves from God. Because God is the living God and the source of life, sin results in death. This is similar to a piece of technology being unplugged from its power source; it continues to exist, but it is functionally dead. In the same way, the Bible says that because of sin, we are physically alive but spiritually dead. Furthermore, we will all die physically, just as God promised Adam and Eve in the garden (Genesis 2:17; Romans 6:23).
One of the things that makes Jesus distinct from and morally superior to everyone who has ever lived, or will ever live, is that He alone is without sin (1 Peter 2:22).
Despite the fact that God made us sinless, everyone but Jesus is a sinner both by nature and by choice (Romans 3:10-12). Anyone who says he is not a sinner is, in fact, proud; and according to the church father Augustine, pride is the worst of sins and was the cause of Satan’s fall from heaven (Ezekiel 28:17). Our sin includes our words, deeds, thoughts, and motives. Again, even non-Christians agree with the Scripture by using phrases like, “nobody’s perfect.”
This point is shocking. On the cross as our substitute, Jesus was made the worst of what we are. This does not mean that Jesus ever sinned. Rather, it means that He was made sin. Jesus became the ugliest, wicked, and defiled evil in all creation. On the cross, Jesus exchanged his perfection for our imperfection… His righteousness for our unrighteousness… His intimacy with God for our distance from God… His blessing for our cursing… His life for our death. As Isaiah 53:6 says, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned – every one – to his own way; and the Lord has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.” Also, “For our sake, He made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in Him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
The fact that Christians celebrate the murder of Jesus as “good news” seems disgusting until we understand the reason why Jesus died. The Bible teaches that Jesus was made to be our sin, and to appease the justice of God, He died for us. The little word “for” has big implications. In theological terms, it means that Jesus’ death was substitutionary. His death was in our place, solely for our benefit, and without benefit for Himself. Just to be perfectly clear, this means that Jesus took the penalty for our sins, in our place, so we do not have to suffer the just penalty ourselves. The wrath of God that should have fallen on us, and the death that our sins merit fell on Jesus. This wasn’t something forced on Him. Rather, He took it willingly. Scripture repeatedly stresses this point:
“But He was pierced for our transgressions; He was crushed for our iniquities; upon Him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5
“He poured out His soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet He bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12
He “who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification.” Romans 4:25
“But God shows His love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8
“Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures.” 1 Corinthians 15:3b
“For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18a
“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2
“Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us.” Galatians 3:13a
God created us and wants to be in relationship with us. We rebelled against Him, wanting to be our own gods, doing whatever we want to do. Because God loves us so much, He sent Jesus to die in our place for our sins. When we believe in the work of Jesus on the cross and put our trust in Him, our sins are forgiven and we are brought back into relationship with God that will last throughout eternity in Heaven.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
As you are pondering the words written on this website about Jesus, we would be remiss not to mention the fact that there should be a sense of urgency in your processing the Gospel. Your conclusions have extreme eternal consequences, and you have a limited time to make them.
In the days of Noah, God saw fit to punish the sins of mankind by sending a flood to restore the earth. Noah was saved because He believed God. He built an ark as the Lord commanded Him. People must have thought Noah had lost his mind, as they watched him spend years of his life building a boat in the middle of a desert. However, when the rain began pouring down, God allowed Noah and his family to enter the ark, and God then “shut them in.” God closed the door of the ark and there were those who experienced God’s mercy within the ark… and those who experienced God’s justice outside the ark. Why is this important? Because God has sent His Son, Jesus, to save us. His Gospel has gone out and been heard around the world. It is a witness of God’s gracious mercy and love for His creation… however, justice is again coming and the doors of salvation will be closed.
Jesus said, “For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day when Noah entered the ark, and they were unaware until the flood came and swept them all away, so will the coming of the Son of Man.” Matthew 24:37-39
God is patient and loving and offers salvation to those who believe in Jesus, God’s Son who died for your sin. However, His long, patient wick will eventually burn down and He will send Jesus to bring justice on all the unrighteous (Revelation 23:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). We don’t know when this will happen, as Noah did not know when the rains would begin. Scripture teaches it will be when we least expect it, and it will happen suddenly… like a thief coming in the night (1 Thessalonians 5:2-3). On this day everything changes… there is no more call to repentance… there are no more chances… there is only salvation for those “in Christ” and judgement for those “outside of Christ.” Today you have options; then, you will not. The justice of Hell awaits those “outside of Christ” (Matthew 25:41). The grace of eternity with God in Heaven awaits those “in Christ” (Matthew 25:34).
You may say… “these choices aren’t fair; I don’t want either.” However, you are not the author of this story. It is ridiculous to read Cinderella and complain “I think the slippers should have been ruby and not glass.” These are not our choices to make, but the author’s. We find ourselves in God’s story, and we were not there giving God counsel when He created all things. We are not the judge of Him… He is the judge of us (Job 38:2-20, 40:8).
Your time is short… you’re not promised tomorrow (James 4:13-16; 1 Peter 1:24-25). You are not even promised your next breath. Choose while you can. Choose well.
Our prayer is that you would not be like the “fool who says there is no God” (Psalm 14:1). Please don’t turn from the good news of the Gospel of Jesus Christ calling it foolishness (1 Corinthians 1:18-19). Believe the Gospel, be saved, join a church that teaches the Bible, and watch your faith grow as your understanding grows.
Hell was not made for you. If you end up there… it’s no one’s fault but your own. Jesus Christ is your provision. Turn to Him now while you can.
If you have more questions please email us and a pastor will contact you to talk through your questions.
Everyone has to make a choice about Jesus. There cannot be indifference. Jesus either spoke the truth about Himself, or He did not. He is either who He claims to be, or He is not.
Many want to sidestep a decision and brush Jesus off to the side by trying to find middle ground. Jesus will not allow this. As C.S. Lewis reasoned, you cannot say Jesus was a moral teacher or a good person and get away with it. If Jesus lied about who He is, then He can’t be a moral teacher.
You survey the evidence of His life. You study the influence that comes from the short time He spent on Earth. Does the evidence suggest Him to be a liar or a lunatic? Does the evidence point to the fact that Jesus, in fact, may be all the things He claimed to be?
If you believe Jesus is who He said He is and want to speak with a pastor about your next steps, we are available to you. Please call our office or email one of our pastors or elders. We are here for you, because we believe Jesus is who He said He was.