Long before Jesus came on the scene, God announced this special birth through the prophets. Isaiah told us he would be born of a virgin (7:14) and that this Child would be called “Wonderful Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Now, why should we call the Son “Father”? Is Jesus the Everlasting Father or is He the Son?

What is God’s Image?

God created humanity in His own image, Genesis 1:27 tells us. However, God is invisible (I Timothy 1:17; Hebrews 11:27). So how could God pattern Adam according to His own image, if He is invisible? You cannot draw a picture of invisible things. You cannot sculpt clay to look like something that does not exist. So what is God’s image? How could an invisible God make a human being in His own likeness if He is not a physical life form? We find the answer in Colossians 1:15-19. Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God. The physical presence of God is Jesus Christ. When God made humanity, He made us in His own image, patterned after His own body—the Man Jesus Christ.

When was the Son born?

So, how could God have modeled Adam after His own flesh, if the Son was born four thousand years after Creation? Can He be “firstborn over all creation” if He entered the game in the fifth inning? How could all creation have come through Him if He did not physically exist in the beginning? Is He really before all things?

It may help to look at the Gospel of John. The first verse says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Many people often substitute “Jesus” when they read “Word.” However, Jesus was not from the beginning, the Word was. The Word spoken of here could indicate God’s plan for Himself. It might also simply reflect the common Jewish habit of calling the Creator the “Word” since He spoke everything into existence.

What is the Word?

We know this Word has to somehow refer to Jesus Christ, because John 1:14 says “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The Word, which was God, came to earth as a Baby in Bethlehem. God’s plan for Himself finally came into existence.

Think of it like this illustration:

You have a dream home in mind, so you take your ideas to an engineer. He draws up a 10,000 square foot house with indoor pool and marble pillars. You buy the complete set of blueprints and take this around to show all your friends, saying, “Look at my new house!” You go page by page through the blueprints and point out the great room, the pool, the garage, and your private Jacuzzi. This house exists in your mind, even though you have not built it yet.

A friend, named Fred, likes the design and asks to borrow your plans to build his own house. You loan him the blueprints, since you do not have the money to build right now. He builds the house and returns the plans to you in good shape with a couple coffee stains. Ten years later, you finally have all your bills paid and have saved enough money to build your home. Another friend comes to your housewarming and says, “I feel like I’ve been here before. Oh, I know—you built your house just like Fred’s!”

But you would respond, “No, Fred built his house just like mine.” Even though Fred built first, He was copying your blueprints. Fred’s house was an imitation; yours is the original.

What is God’s House?
God formed Adam according the blueprints of His own divine image which He had designed before the world. When the time was right, God’s blueprint became a house, or “the Word became flesh.”

The divine design of Jesus Christ was preplanned before the first mountain rose out of the oceans. When the perfect time came, God arrived on earth in a Man, born of a virgin in Bethlehem. We were constructed according to the same blueprints God used for His own body—long before He built His own. The only way we will ever see God will be the visible image of Jesus Christ (John 1:18).

God fulfilled His own identity in the man Jesus Christ (Luke 3:22; Colossians 1:19). In Christ lives all the fullness of God’s divine nature (Colossians 2:9).

Why was Christ tempted?
The devil tempted sinless humanity in the Garden. The Son of God came free of the sin curse of Adam. The devil saw one Man who was free of bondage. He tested Jesus with lust of the flesh, pride of life, and lust of the eyes. Just as the devil had no personal interest of getting humanity to eat the fruit of the tree, so he did not seem to care what Christ did as long as He obeyed the evil one. Why would the devil care if Jesus turned stones into bread? There was no law against such magic. He just wanted this Man under his control (Romans 6:16). Our Savior refused to submit himself to Satan, and resisted him by quoting scripture.

How did people know Jesus was God?

Jesus operated in divine power, working miracles of healing and restoration. He spoke words beyond human knowledge or learning (Matthew 7:28-29). He claimed to be from above (John 5, 8, 10).

Jesus gave this as His mission statement:

  • To share the message of hope to the poor,
  • To heal broken hearts,
  • To announce freedom to the captives,
  • To open blinded eyes,
  • To give liberty to those damaged by life, and
  • To spread the news of God’s favor. (Luke 4:18-19)

What is our access to life?

Jesus tells us He has come to give us Life (John 10:9-10). However, this Door does not just fall open for everyone. To enter the door to the Kingdom, we must know how to unlock it (we will discuss this in the next two lessons).

If a person does not enter the doors of a business, that organization’s mission statement will do them no good. If we do not enter the doors of the Kingdom, Jesus’ mission statement will not benefit us either.

Is Jesus God or Man?
In John 14, Jesus was telling His men about His Father’s house. While having this discussion preparing His apostles for His departure, Philip interrupted Him with the question, “Where’s the Father?” Perhaps this was a theological question. Maybe Philip had grown confused about Jesus’ divine nature. Maybe he just wanted to meet Jesus’ dad.

Whatever the case, Jesus responded with, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip?” The Lord sounds shocked that Philip did not know who He was. He continued by saying, “he that hath seen me hath seen the Father” (John 14:9).

Jesus is the Father in human form. To see Jesus is to see the Father. To pray to Jesus is to pray to the Father. This is not to say that God is only a man. Nor is it to say that a man is now God. This simply means the fullness of God dwells in the man Jesus Christ. Jesus is fully Man with human mind, will, and emotions in total submission to His divine mind, will, and emotions.

Did Jesus pray to Himself?
Of course not. Being both Man and God. Jesus’ humanity cringed at the thought of the brutal beating and slow death on the cross—His sinless nature loathed the thought of bearing the guilt of the world’s wickedness. When the Son prayed, “Father, not my will, but Your will be done,” we see Jesus submitting His human will to His divine will. Jesus prayed to keep His flesh submitted to the power of the Spirit.

Since Spirit and flesh can occupy the same space at the same time, the Man Jesus could pray to the eternal God within Him, without technically praying to Himself. This concept should not be too hard for us to grasp. We talk of having Jesus in our hearts, and we have no problem praying to this God within us. Yet we never would suggest that we are praying to ourselves.

Overall, we need to be careful about asking questions beyond God’s express plan for our understanding. God did not go into explicit detail on the DNA structure of Christ, the nature of His home life, what kind of games He played, or exactly how the human and divine natures connect within Him. Rather than try to sound sophisticated and super-intellectual about things we will never understand, we should focus on proclaiming the essentials of the message: God came to earth to buy our salvation and break the power of the evil one.

A friend betrayed Jesus

After sweating blood during His agonizing prayer in the garden, Jesus leads His men to meet those coming to arrest Him. Judas leads the angry mob and shows them who Jesus is by kissing His bloody cheek. They took Jesus, after a little confusion, and lead Him to trial. All night the ordeal dragged on from religious law, to provincial law, to local law, until the governor finally decreed His death. Mid-morning they crucified the Lord between two thieves. He cried out many significant things from the cross. One of those statements confused the listeners, and it still confuses people today.

Did God betray Jesus?

In the darkness of mid-day, Jesus called out, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” (Matthew 27:46). Most did not understand this ancient expression. Some thought He was calling Elijah, a prophet. The scripture tells us, however, He was speaking Hebrew, saying, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?”
Some people assume that this means God turned His back on Jesus. But would this make sense with His nature? Does God just walk out on people in their dark hour? Could Jesus really be God if God left Him? If the Father left the Son on the cross, did just a man pay for our sin? Could Jesus really forgive our sins if He died as a God-less man? Well, to be brief, no, no, no, no, and no.

When we read Psalm 22:1, we read, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” This verse was written in Hebrew—the very language Jesus quoted from as He hung on the cross. He quoted the exact words of this psalm as He hung there, dying in front of His enemies. This psalm talks distinctly about the Messiah’s death on the cross:

“I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. But thou art he that took me out of the womb: thou didst make me hope when I was upon my mother’s breasts. I was cast upon thee from the womb: thou art my God from my mother’s belly.

“I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture.” (Psalm 22:6-10, 14-18, KJV)

This passage goes on to confirm that God did not leave Jesus on the cross. It says, God did not despise the one who was afflicted (the Messiah), and “neither hath he hid his face from him; but when he cried unto him, he heard” (Psalm 22:24). Ultimately, instead of saying that God had forsaken Him (as any human would assume in such intense anguish), Jesus confirmed God’s faithfulness to never turn His back.

Jesus is our Passover

Jesus died at the same time the priest would be killing the Passover lamb. Passover was a feast day to remember when God got the people out of bondage in Egypt. Jesus’ death marked the beginning of humanity’s escape from bondage to sin. The Lord did not die just to forgive our sins. He took on flesh and blood so that by death He could set us free from the bondage of our death fear (Hebrews 2:14-15)

What is the point of Communion?

Jesus instituted a symbolic tradition on the night before His crucifixion (Matthew 26:17-29). Gathered with His disciples in a second story room, Jesus took the flat bread they were eating, broke it and said, “Take, eat; this is my body” (Matthew 26:26). He gave them this food to eat as a tangible reminder of His sacrifice. They were not eating His real flesh since He was standing before them when He said, “This is my body.”

Then He told them to drink the grape juice (literally, ‘fruit of the vine’) and said, “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28). By continually keeping communion (the Christian Passover) we illustrate the Lord’s death until His return (I Corinthians 11:23-34).

Communion concludes the confusion Jesus raised among His followers in John 6 when He told them they would have to eat His flesh and drink His blood. He was talking about spiritual things, namely a person taking Him into his or her life. Communion presents a literal sense of what one’s soul does by feeding on the Spirit.

Burial and Resurrection

Jesus lay dead in the tomb for three days. His disciples worried what would happen to them. Nobody involved seemed to know what to do. On the third day, some ladies came to the tomb to make sure His body had been embalmed properly. They found the tomb open. Later that day, Jesus appeared to Mary and then the men. He spent the next 40 days preparing them for the job ahead of them.

Why did Jesus have to come?

God operates on a type of you-broke-it-you-fix-it policy. Since a man had given the devil authority over the world, a Man had to take back that power. What Adam messed up, Jesus restored. The first Adam came from below. The second Adam (Jesus) came from above. Those who cling to their ancestry in Adam will return to where He came from—dirt. Those who adopt the bloodline of Jesus will go where He came from—heaven (I Corinthians 15:20-22)

Like a secret agent infiltrating a hostile POW camp, Jesus came to earth. He tunneled our way to freedom by His death, burial, and resurrection. The gospel is what saves, or rescues, us (I Corinthians 15:1-2). The gospel is this:

  1. Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;…
  2. he was buried, and
  3. he rose again the third day according to the scriptures: (I Corinthians 15:3-4).

Just hearing the gospel does not rescue us, but obeying it does (II Thessalonians 1:8).

Next time…

How do you obey Jesus’ Death, Burial, and Resurrection?