A long time ago in a land far away… Jesus was spending some special time with His friends (a.k.a., “disciples”) when He asked them an interesting question: “Who do men say that I am?” Interestingly enough, that question still gets kicked around nearly 2,000 years after He asked it. People say He was a great teacher, a prophet, even a reincarnation of some ancient holy man. His closest friends, however, knew He was much, much more. In fact, they knew Him to be God Himself in human form.
Jesus of Nazareth was an historical figure who lived in the Middle East in what is today called Israel. He was born over 2,000 years ago to a poor Jewish girl named Miriam (Mary in our English Bibles), who was engaged to be married to a craftsman named Joseph. In actuality, Jesus had no earthly (biological) father. He was born “of the Holy Spirit” in a supernatural conception, making Him literally the Son of God (as well as the son of mankind through His mother). He was the long-before prophesied Messiah, or Christ, the Anointed One, promised by God to deliver His people Israel, as well as the whole world, from bondage. The well-known Bible verse, John 3:16, tells us why. “For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”
As Jesus grew to adulthood He is thought to have worked alongside His stepfather Joseph as a carpenter or builder. When He turned 30 years old, however, He began to fulfill His real mission on earth: to call people to renounce their sinful lifestyle and turn to obedience and devotion to God. This process is called “repentance,” and it means to change your mind about your life and begin to follow Jesus every day. He ministered in Palestine for three years, during which He performed extraordinary signs such as healing life-long diseases and deformities, raising dead people to life, and demonstrating authority over natural elements. He also reached out to touch, both literally and spiritually, the “untouchables,” the lepers, the prostitutes, the tax collectors, the downcast.
The most important work that Jesus did, however, was completing what He alone in all of creation could do: take sin on Himself and die in my place on an executioner’s cross so that I, by believing in Him, might join Him in a perfect, eternal place called Heaven when I die. The Bible says, “He who knew no sin [Jesus] became sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21) The really good news is that He did not stay dead; no, He was raised from the dead after three days and spent the next 40 days appearing and giving instructions to as many as 500 people about how to live lives pleasing to God. Then He rose majestically from the earth and disappeared back into Heaven, where He is preparing for us to join Him when He returns as Savior and Master of all.
That time is rapidly approaching, friends. Do not delay. Put your trust in Jesus’ finished work on the Cross today, and become His child forever. John 1:12; 1 John 3:1