Jesus of Nazareth has been a dominant figure of history for over twenty centuries. Many people have many different ideas about who he was, and what he did. So what really happened in first century Israel, and why is it so important?
The primary account of Jesus’ life is a collection of historical documents commonly known as the Bible. As a Christian community, we believe that the Bible is more than just a set of records and moral teachings. The Bible is the word of God. It is a unified account of God’s plan for humanity.
God made this world to be perfect. He ruled over the world. We lived under his authority, and our relationship with Him was flawless. God put us in charge of the world; to care for it, to be responsible for it, and to enjoy it under his supreme authority. There was no pain, no suffering, no death.
But we knew better. We wanted to rule our lives. We wanted to be in control of this world. We wanted to be God. The Bible calls this sin, and the effects were catastrophic. Our rebellion destroyed our relationship with God, and our relationships with each other. The once-perfect world now contained suffering, injustice, even death.
God cared enough about us to take this rebellion seriously. He must call us to account for our actions. So He gave us exactly what we wanted. God’s judgement was to cut us off from himself. God is the source of all life, all truth, all that is good and right. Without Him, there is nothing but death. The Bible calls this hell.
We are all equally guilty of rebelling against God, and equally deserving of his judgement. But the story doesn’t end there.
The central theme of the Bible is God’s plan to rescue us from sin and death. His plan to finally fix this broken world. His plan to give all of us the opportunity to restore our perfect relationship for all eternity. His plan to send His only son, Jesus, to save us.
Jesus was much more than a man. In Jesus, God took on human flesh and entered our world. Jesus lived a perfect life. He never sinned. He never rebelled against God’s rule. He did not deserve death.
And yet Jesus died on a Roman cross. Why?
The incredible message of the Bible is that Jesus, the perfect Son of God, died as a substitute in our place. He paid the penalty for our rebellion. He took the full force of God’s justice, so that forgiveness might be possible for us.
God accepted Jesus’ death as payment for sin, and raised Him from the dead. As God’s ruler, Jesus has been appointed judge of this world. One day, He will return and call everyone to account.
We have a choice. We can take the penalty of our sin, and be separated from God forever. Or we can accept Jesus’ offer of forgiveness, and live with Him as the ruler over our lives.
That’s why Jesus is so important.
There’s much more we could say about Jesus. If you’ve got questions we’d love to hear from you. Our weekly Sunday services are a great time to meet people and ask questions. We also regularly run several courses that you might find interesting:
Life of Jesus is a course that explores the historical claims of Christianity. It runs for six weeks, and features a series of videos shot on location in Israel by historian John Dickson.
Christianity Explored is a seven week course that looks at the big questions of life. Why are we here? Is there a God? What is life all about? It’s a great opportunity to find out more about Jesus and Christianity, and includes plenty of time for questions.