What Is Jesus? The Ministry of John When he was about thirty years old, John began preaching in the towns and villages along the Jordan river. His role was to warn the people that Christ was coming. His messages were to soften the people's heart so that they would receive Jesus' message. "...the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God" (Luke 2:2-6). He told the people to repent of their sins and prepare to meet their God. "In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matthew 3:1-2). Many began to wonder if John were the promised Saviour, the King they were hoping would come. John defused the rumors: "And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and will gather the wheat into his garner; but the chaff he will burn with fire unquenchable" (Luke 2:15-17). "And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ" (John 1:19-20). John continued to preach and warn. Also, he baptized people. So, he earned the name "John the Baptist." Many who heard John's message wanted to repent from their sins and turn to God. To symbolize their desire, John would immerse sincere believers in the Jordan river. This immersion, called baptism, was a public demonstration that they were forsaking sin and turning to God. The religious leaders saw that the people believed John to be a prophet. So, they went down to the Jordan river to be baptized and make it look like they were on the same side as John. But, he refused and told them to first live like they were repentant. The Beginning of Jesus' Ministry One day, as John baptized, Jesus arrived to be baptized. "Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:13-17). John objected, because he knew that Jesus was perfect and sinless and did not need to turn from sin. But, Jesus assured John that this immersion was important. His baptism was the public announcement of the beginning of His ministry, accompanied by God's voice and a sign from Heaven confirming His identity! The End of John's Ministry Shortly after this important incident, John preached against Herod's sin of adultery. This Herod was the son of Herod the Great who murdered the children in Bethlehem ("Herod" was a family title) Herod got mad as we read in Luke 3:18-20. "And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people. But Herod the tetrarch, being reproved by him for Herodias his brother Philip's wife, and for all the evils which Herod had done, Added yet this above all, that he shut up John in prison." Eventually, Herod murdered John, by ordering executioners to cut off his head. John's job was complete. Christ was on the scene. Soon, the payment for sin would be made. Jesus said this about John, "For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist..." (Luke 7:28). John trusted God and did his job well. Now Jesus the Christ would preach and teach for a time, before He paid for humanity's sins. But, who is this Jesus? And how would He be able to pay for our sin? To pay for sin, He must be both God and human. Jesus Must Be God We saw in the previous two lessons that Jesus was born of a Virgin named Mary. We learned that the Holy Spirit caused Mary to become pregnant without being with a man. She named her child "Jesus" because God's messenger angel told her to do so. The result of this God/man union was a human body in which God would dwell. We read in Matthew 1:23, "and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us." "For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me:" (Hebrews 10:5). These two verses remind us why the coming Saviour must be both God and man. Remember, the sacrifice for sin required that the substitute must be sinless. Only God is sinless. "Who shall not fear thee, O Lord, and glorify thy name? for thou only art holy: for all nations shall come and worship before thee; for thy judgments are made manifest" (Revelation 15:4). He is the only acceptable offering for our sin. Just as Abraham said in Genesis 22:8, "God will provide himself a lamb." But how would God, who is Spirit, die for us? Jesus Must Be Man He had to put on human flesh. Animals could not take our punishment for us, because they are incapable of discerning right from wrong. We needed someone who faced the same temptations to sin that we have, yet remained sinless. "For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous" (Romans 5:19). Adam chose to disobey God. Jesus chose to obey. Both were presented with the opportunity to sin. Adam yielded, Jesus didn't. Jesus' flesh was tempted just like Adam was and we are. "For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15). Both God and man in one. Quite a mind-boggling fact. But, Jesus must be both God and man if He was to pay for our sins. Jesus Is The Son of God Remember back in Lesson #2 when we talked about God's nature? We pointed out that God is trinity. He is three distinct persons combined in one being. We know His three persons as God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. At Jesus' baptism we saw God in all three persons: "And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:16-17). Jesus, God the Son, was standing in the water where He had been immersed by John. The Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) took the form of a dove which descended from the sky and landed on His head. And, God the Father spoke in a voice from Heaven. And so we see, that Jesus is the physical form of God the Son. Because He is part of God, He is God. Remember, that while God is three persons, He is one being. Colossians 1:15 and 2:9 say, "[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God" "For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily;" All of God dwelt in Jesus. Jesus is the image, the visible appearance of an otherwise invisible God. Jesus is God in flesh. Jesus is God in a form that we can look upon, relate to, speak with, and see. Now, Isaiah 9:6 makes even more sense: "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace." This child born to Mary is The Mighty God, He is The Everlasting Father, He is The Prince of Peace. He is God robed in human flesh. The Eternal Son of God "And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God" (Luke 1:35). Jesus Christ is "the Son of God." Jesus' body was born in Bethlehem in a manger, but His eternal being, as God, has existed for eternity. The prophet Micah foretold this about seven centuries before Jesus' birth. The chief priests and scribes quoted this passage to Herod the Great when the wise men appeared before him. "But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting" (Micah 5:2). In Bethlehem the promised King, the Prince of Peace (as Isaiah put it) would be born. This King existed from everlasting. In fact, the Son of God created the world. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made… And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth" (John 1:1-3, 14). Why is this important? The eternal sacrifice for our sins would only need to be offered once. Remember that the animal sacrifices were offered often to cover sin, but did not pay for sin. Jesus, because He is the eternal God, lives forever as our go-between with God. So, Jesus can save all who come to God by Him. "By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament. And they truly were many priests, because they were not suffered to continue by reason of death: But this man [Jesus], because he continueth ever, hath an unchangeable priesthood. Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them" (Hebrews 7:22-25). He made one sacrifice, which we will see in the next lesson. And His sacrifice is the only one we need. "And every priest standeth daily ministering and offering oftentimes the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins: But this man, after he had offered one sacrifice for sins for ever, sat down on the right hand of God; (Hebrews 10:11-12). Because Adam sinned, we die. There is no such thing as reincarnation. All die once. Even so, Jesus paid once for our sins. "And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation" (Hebrews 9:27-28).

Lesson #11 Review

1. How did John respond to allegations that he was the Christ?

2.Why did Jesus submit to John’s baptism?

3.Why must Jesus be God?

4.Why must Jesus be human?

5.How is Jesus also God?

6.Why is it important that Jesus is eternal?