“And He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:17
“Jesus loves me. This I know for the Bible tells me so.” This is great, but what else do we know? Let’s talk about some basic, foundational beliefs about Jesus Christ. As Paul suggests above in Colossians, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, holds the world together. Why is this the case? Why is it necessary for our salvation?
It is absolutely crucial that Jesus be 100% man and 100% God. Without this, the world is lost. St. Athanasius says, “That which is not assumed cannot be saved.” Jesus had to sanctify humanity by entering into 100% humanity and living the perfect life that only 100% God could do. God and Man are naturally separated. God is uncreated; we are created. God is perfect. We are imperfect. Even Adam and Eve at their creation had to have been imperfect to have the ability to sin. Jesus, because He is both God and Man, is the only mediator between God and Man. “But as he considered these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife, for that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.’” Jesus received full manhood from his earthly mother, Mary, and He received full godhood from His Father through the Holy Spirit. Both were equally necessary for the Word of God to be Incarnate.
We are only allowed in communion with God through the person of Jesus.
“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven…” Colossians1:21-22 Not only by His life, but by His perfect death, did He defeat sin and death. Because Jesus is 100% man, He was born with the human capability to die, but because He is 100% God, He rose from the dead, never to die again. It is through His resurrection that we can have the future hope of our resurrection and salvation. “And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”
What else do we know about Jesus?
He was present at creation. “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:16. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” John 1:1-3
He is the Word of God.
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:14
This Word, Logos, is a word (giggles) that is exploding with philosophical meaning!!! I can’t go into it all today, but in short, one of the earliest Greek philosophers (I’m talking Pre-Plato here) named Heraclitus used this word first. Word is used over and over in the New Testament to refer to Jesus. Heraclitus used it to “designate the divine reason to plan which coordinates a changing universe.” Now, if our Lord Jesus Christ didn’t change our universe, I don’t know who can! John would have known this definition when he applied it to Christ. I will have to do a whole post on the Logos one day in the future.
Jesus is the Light of the World.
“In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it….(John the Baptist) came as a witness, to bear witness about the light, that all might believe through him. He was not the light, but came to bear witness about the light. The true light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world.” John 1:4-5,7-9
“He was a burning and shining lamp, and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light.” John 5:35
“Jesus spoke to them saying, ‘I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” John 8:12
“As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” John 9:5
“’While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.’ When Jesus had said these things, he departed and hid himself from them.” John 12:36
“I have come to the world as a light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” John 12:46
“Now as he went on his way, he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven shone around him (Paul).” Acts 9:3
Jesus calling himself the light of the world was also super radical. Another school of thought, Gnosticism, emphasized the power struggle between Light and Dark (Good and Evil). Jesus personifying himself as the Light that cannot be overcome by any darkness sends a major message to the Gnostics. Once again, this is a topic for another day.
When Jesus ascends into heaven, He leaves the Holy Spirit with us, and Christians are depicted as having His light.
“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14
“While you have the light, believe in the light, that you may become sons of light.” John 12:36
“For so the Lord commanded us, saying ‘ I have made you a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth.’” Acts 13:47
“…and if you are sure that you yourself are a guide to the blind, a light to those who are in darkness…” Romans 2:19
“For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness,’ has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.’”
2 Corinthians 4:6
“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light…” Ephesians 5:8
In my slightly educated, most likely narrow-minded thought process, I think that Christians have the light of Jesus through the person of the Holy Spirit, who Jesus left as our Comforter until He returns. Please do not think that I am reducing the Holy Spirit to only being a light bulb.
Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Paul says, “I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering to prison both men and women.” This is what the early church called themselves, “The Way,” which referenced Jesus’ statement in John.
“You sent to John, and he has borne witness to the truth.” John 5:33
“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
“Then Pilate said to him, ‘So you are a king?’ Jesus answered, ‘You say that I am a king. For this purpose I have come into the world—to bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth listens to my voice.’” John 18:37
“…assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus…” Ephesians 4:21
Folks, it is very important that we derive our truth from Jesus Christ, not from our own shallow, finite minds. It is perfectly okay to claim that there is absolute truth; everyone does it. Some claim to derive their truth from their own “experiences” or “feelings.” I choose to follow Jesus, not my own ability to discern truth from falsehood.
“Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” John 3:36
“For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:33 (a reference to Jesus as God’s manna perhaps? A topic for another day)
“For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:40 (a reference to Jesus as the bronze serpent that was lifted up? Lots of OT going on here…another topic for yet another day)
“I am the bread of life.” John 6:48
“So Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drink my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:3-54 (mmmmm….controversy! J we shall discuss this later for sure)
“Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.’” John 6:68
Last but certainly not least, Jesus is the source of life. Not only was He our creator, but He is our Savior! We can have eternal life through His life, death, and ultimate resurrection. He is our resurrection, the Life.
What are the implications of this?
“So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.” Genesis 1:27
“In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” 2 Corinthians 4:4
We see here that Jesus is the image of God, and so are we.
“Just as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the man of heaven.” 1 Corinthians 15:49
“And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.” 2 Corinthians 3:18
“Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.” Colossians 3:9-10
I know that was a lot of Scripture and not much of my own words, but my own opinion is not necessary. Next week I will show you how interpreting Scripture outside of the protection of the Church leads to very dangerous heresies. We will discuss Gnosticism and Arianism in contrast to what we know is true about Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior.
For those of you who are curious about the image I chose for this blog, this icon, or image, of Christ is called Christ Pantocrator. Pantocrator is a translation of Yahweh from Hebrew into Greek for the Septuagint. It refers to Christ as the Lord Almighty. You will notice that Christ is holding a copy of Scripture, which is sometimes open to the verse that says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” His clothing made of red and blue represent the two natures of Christ, God and Man. His fingers, the sign of the cross, represent both the Trinity (three fingers) and the two natures of Christ (two fingers). The gold represents heaven and Christ as the Light. There are countless other features I could point out, but I don’t know them all. I think it is the most perfect (that a mere human can create) representation of Christ and His attributes.
We are also referred to as “icons” of Christ, made in the image of God. I’ll talk more about this soon.