Why We Should Take Jesus Christ Seriously


David H. Linden, University Presbyterian Church, Las Cruces, NM     imputed@gmail.com    


Two religions in some way look upon their founder as God: Buddhism and Christianity. One of them was founded by a man who said that He is God. (Buddha made no such claim.)  Anyone can open his mouth and make wild statements. In the case of Jesus Christ, there was ample ancient testimony of a coming person. These predictions existed centuries before the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem about 2000 years ago. These are things Jesus of Nazareth did not write and as a man He could not influence what was written in previous centuries.


A.  The Ancient Testimony


The Scriptures of the Old Testament existed for centuries before Jesus was born. There is no debate about this. Every scholar knows it is true, and none dare say otherwise.  Here are some of the ancient predictions:


  1. His mother would be a virgin. (Isaiah 7:14) This prediction was written 700 years before Jesus’ birth. People may scoff at such a claim, but those in Mary’s village, who knew her well and knew the pattern of life back then, would have great trouble believing that she was not a virgin. Such a birth was predicted in Isaiah, and then it was twice stated boldly in the New Testament, with no apparent worry that this could be challenged. Everyone knows that virgins do not have children. The beginning of Jesus’ life on this earth as a human being was a miracle. If Jesus looked like Joseph, His enemies would have pointed this out with glee. No one hoping to deceive the world would include in their hoax something as unbelievable as a virgin birth.
  2. His father’s genealogy had to be an unbroken biological connection reaching back to King David and specifically to the kings who were born in the centuries after King David’s death. Today some find it boring that the New Testament should begin by giving all those names. But Jesus, to be the real Messiah of the Old Testament, had to have this connection to David. It had to be indisputable. He could never be The Son of David if he were not literally a son of David. Many people especially religious leaders hated Jesus and said horrible things about him. They never challenged His genealogy. I am certain that they checked Jesus’ ancestry and found what they did not want to believe. He was in the line of David as the Scriptures predicted. (See Isaiah 9:6,7; 11:1,10.)
  3. In Isaiah 9 and Micah 5 two locations are associated with Jesus. Though his mother and father lived in Galilee, they had to travel to Bethlehem where He was born. This fulfilled the prophecy of Micah 5, yet Jesus did most of His preaching in Galilee as predicted in Isaiah 9.
  4. His own people would not believe in Him (Isaiah 53:1-4). This was in spite of all the good He did, the people he healed, the people delivered from demons, and the testimony of a very important prophet who said he was the Son of God. He was rejected by His own just as Isaiah 53 predicted. The opposition to Jesus would lead to His being murdered at the instigation of the leaders of His own people. Instead of this proving Him to be a phony, rejection by His own people fulfilled what the Hebrew Scriptures predicted.  
  5. He would find worldwide acceptance (Isaiah 49:6). It is preposterous to think that some peasant carpenter who never went to school would teach and accomplish such amazing things that other nations would come to think of Him as their Creator, the Son of God, the Redeemer of the earth and the final Judge of all men. Jesus commanded the worldwide spread of His gospel, and the ancient Scriptures announced that it would happen.  (See Psalm 2, Isaiah 2:1-4, and Isaiah 52:12-15.)
  6. The timing of His coming and death (Daniel 9:25). Many predictions in Scriptures tell us what will happen or why or how, but God has been very guarded about revealing when. Often God’s best-kept secret has been the time of future events. In Daniel we read of the death of the Messiah after a series of “weeks” (each week being seven years not seven days). Since these weeks began at a well identified date, the time the Messiah would appear was set and announced centuries in advance. (I wish more Christians were aware that this information in Daniel 9 is unusually specific.) The time of Messiah’s coming was nailed down to the days of the Romans, early in the first century. Obviously that time cannot occur again. Jesus appeared in that specific moment of history. No other Messiah can ever appear in fulfillment of Daniel 9.
  7. The circumstances of His death and burial (Psalm 22 & Isaiah 53). Some details of Jesus’ death and burial are so unusual, they would not make sense to those who first read of them in the Old Testament. In Jesus’ death His hands and feet would be pierced and His clothes divided and taken by others (Psalm 22:16-18). This happened because Jesus was crucified, a Roman way of execution not yet invented when Psalm 22 was written centuries before Rome became a world power. Isaiah 53:9 predicted, “… They made His grave with the wicked, but with the rich in His death.”  When a man was crucified people expected that someone would come along after his death with a cart to take the body off to the dump to be burned. Instead, in Jesus’ case, a wealthy man made available a special unused tomb. He secured the body of Jesus and placed it there (John 19:38-42).
  8. His resurrection    Psalm 16 was written by King David about 1000 BC. He prophesized “…You will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.” Both Jesus’ death and resurrection were foretold. (See also Isaiah 53:11.)
  9. Both suffering and glory (Isaiah 52:13-15; Zechariah 13:7; Daniel 7:13,14). That the Messiah would come to rule and yet would die was a deep mystery. He did die for His people so that He could have a grateful people eternally. To them He will show His kindness forever. Peter spoke of this combination of humiliation and glory in 1 Peter 4 & 5. (See also Hebrews 2:9 where it says that Jesus has been crowned with glory and honor because He suffered death.)

The witness to Jesus before He even arrived on this earth is massive. For an imposter to arrange this would be impossible. No one can set up a hoax centuries in advance. What to expect of the Christ was well documented in Scriptures that were possessed by the Jewish people for generations – a people widely dispersed throughout the Roman Empire, yet all having the same holy books. Thus we must take seriously the confident Christian claim about Jesus Christ that He was the One sent by God (John 8:42). We ought to take Him seriously.  


B.  The Evidence of Jesus’ Time


We have reliable reports of what Jesus and His apostles said. Here are samples in the Bible:


John 5:33-40    Jesus said: "You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth. Not that I accept human testimony; but I mention it that you may be saved. John was a lamp that burned and gave light, and you chose for a time to enjoy his light. "I have testimony weightier than that of John. For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me. And the Father who sent me has himself testified concerning me. You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, for you do not believe the one he sent. You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life.”


A few things stand out here:   


·    A man widely recognized by the people as a prophet in Israel, John the Baptizer, identified Jesus as the Son of God (John 1:34).

·    The Scriptures testified about Him. (See also Luke 24:44,45.) Jesus showed from ancient Scriptures that they spoke of Him. The people all knew He was pointing to what had been in their Bibles for centuries. They saw with their own eyes that these things were fulfilled. This was no hoax. He was and is the Son of God.

·    Jesus pointed to His works as persuasive evidence that He had come from God. He often said He had come from heaven (John 6:33,38). The miracles He did were a witness to who He was (John 10:25). He said if we do not believe His words, we ought to believe the miracles He performed (John 10:36-38 & 14:11). They showed that He was from God.


Very often these astounding works happened in a very public setting. (John 5 & 9 are examples.) His enemies could not deny His miracles. Unbelievers in His day and in the generation that followed gave up on their attempts to prove that these things did not happen. The explanation they resorted to was that He did them in the power of the devil (Matthew 12). Some fake miracle workers in our day carefully screen those they are willing to have up front in public for their supposed healings. Not so with Jesus; He healed a man with a withered hand in front of His severe critics as they watched in scorn and then plotted His death (Mark 3).


Jesus confounded scholars with His teaching, which, unlike theirs, was clear, logical, authoritative, and closely tied to Scripture. Jesus was an outsider to the establishment. He loved those others despised, and was a friend of tax-collectors and prostitutes (not as a customer but a deliverer). Former prostitutes were grateful to Him for saving them. Lepers were cleansed. Three persons were raised from the dead. These were facts Jesus’ enemies could not dispute. So WHO was this man? He was and He is all the things He said: the Son of David, the rightful King of Israel, the Messiah, the Son of God, the Son of Man, and the Savior of the world.


C.  The Testimony of His Apostles


Acts 10:36-43    After Jesus ascended to heaven the Apostle Peter said:  “You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.  You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.


"We are witnesses of everything he did in the country of the Jews and in Jerusalem. They killed him by hanging him on a tree, but God raised him from the dead on the third day and caused him to be seen. He was not seen by all the people, but by witnesses whom God had already chosen -- by us who ate and drank with him after he rose from the dead. He commanded us to preach to the people and to testify that he is the one whom God appointed as judge of the living and the dead. All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name."


The Resurrection    There were many eyewitnesses of Jesus’ resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:3-8). His body was laid in a carefully guarded tomb (Matthew 27:62-66). After rising in that same body, He showed He was alive for a period of 40 days before He returned to heaven (Acts 1:3).


D.  Why Did He Come?


Jesus said, “… The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Speaking of His impending crucifixion Jesus said, “… It was for this very reason I came to this hour” (John 12:27). Hours before His crucifixion Jesus quoted Isaiah 53:12, “It is written: ‘And he was numbered with the transgressors…’ ” Then He added, “…This must be fulfilled in me. Yes, what is written about me is reaching its fulfillment" (Luke 22:37). Here is more of what Isaiah 53 says of Christ, written 700 years before His birth:


·         He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed (v.5).

·         We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all (v.6).

·         For He was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people He was stricken (v.8).

·         Yet it was the LORD's will to crush him and cause him to suffer … the LORD made his life a guilt offering (v.10).  

·         He will bear their iniquities (v.11).

·         He poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For He bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors (v.12).


Jesus made it clear that He had come to be a sacrifice for sinners.

He claimed He could forgive sins, and died because of those sins so He could do so.

He offered eternal life, by taking the penalty of the sins which had condemned us to eternal death.

He found us captive to sin and the devil and died as a ransom to secure our freedom.


E.  Apostolic Teaching on the Role of Jesus Christ


Because of sin, man is under God’s wrath, alienation, and condemnation. Jesus by His death removed all of that from us, because He experienced it for us. He saves us from a sinful life and from Satan and his deception. The Lord Jesus graciously satisfied the justice of God, which would have brought judgment on us. We are granted access to God. Jesus has replaced the death we deserve with the life we do not. He is not finished in what He will do for His people. Many things await His Second Coming, including the resurrection of our bodies and a new earth. Already we have been given the Holy Spirit as a “down payment” of all the great things yet to come. [All of this teaching is scattered throughout the writings of Jesus’ apostles.]


F.  How We Take Jesus Christ Seriously


Repentance:      Of course, God requires that we repent of our rebellion. He does not require that we do penance or anything to make up for our sin. Nothing a sinner can do would be acceptable anyway. We can only come to the Lord as sinners unworthy of the forgiveness we need, but we must turn from our sin. One of Jesus’ first public words was “Repent!” (Mark 1:15).


Faith:      We come to the Lord empty-handed. The gospel is about what God has done for us, not the duty He requires of us. We have nothing to offer God, but He has something to give us. We must simply believe Him that He will forgive us and grant us eternal life. And all of this is an underserved gift to us. We believe that Christ is all we need for God to accept us. We trust only in Jesus’ merits because we believe God’s promise. We do not trust in ourselves but Jesus Christ alone. In this way we receive from God eternal life. No one understands it all, but His promise is personal, wonderful, clear, trustworthy, and all we need. Jesus said:


·    "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:28,29). 

·    "I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty” (John 6:35). 

·     “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).  


In Jesus Christ believers are forgiven, declared righteous before God, given new life, and accepted as sons and daughters. Jesus made His bold claims because He knew Who He was and that He could deliver on His Word to us. So with the ancient Scriptures, the eyewitnesses of His resurrection, and the Holy Spirit convincing us, we take Jesus Christ seriously.  


He predicted that His kingdom would increase in size the way a tiny seed grows to be a tree, and like yeast in a batch of dough it would spread throughout the world (Matthew 13:31-33). His kingdom continues to spread just as He said it would. This should make us take Jesus Christ seriously. The ancient Scriptures were detailed and were fulfilled. The offering for sin has been made on the cross of Calvary. The One who promised eternal life has risen from the grave. He is God; He is Lord; He is Savior, and He is the One we trust for our salvation.  We gladly take Him seriously. Join us in confessing Jesus as Lord. We urge you to believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, and when you confess Him as your Lord you will be saved (Romans 10:9).


John, who knew Jesus well, said his book was written “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).  “To all who received Him …He gave the right to become children of God” (John 1:12).