Who is Jesus Christ?

The first Album I bought as a child was Bill Cosby. 

In the Album Bill says that although his father was a brilliant man, he confused Bill.  His story was that from the age of 1 to 7 he thought his name was “Jesus Christ”.  

He would walk into a room and trip over the carpet and his dad would say, “Jesus Christ, can’t you walk.” He would be sitting at the table and reach for some bread.  The water glass would be in the way so Bill would just knock it over.  His father would say, “Jesus Christ, clean the water up.”

 This illustrates how loosely we  use the name of Jesus.  

Compared to the language many of us hear in the work place every day, this is very mild.  However, it begs the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?”  Why is his name so common? What do we mean by using it as a swear word?

I hear interesting theories concerning this question.  Some say He was a great teacher, others say He was a prophet, and others that He was the Son of God.  Some do not know much about Him beyond the use of His name as a swear word.

There are many teachers, and a couple of names that are well recognized.  The names Buddha and Mohammad are two names that are recognized around the world.  These, of course, are names of two individuals who are recognized as founders of major world religions.  There are a number of different religions.  There are Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism.  And, there are Islam and Judaism that have come from the same roots as Christianity.
 
The United States was started by those who wished to worship God as they saw fit and as a result all these religions are welcome and free to worship as they see fit in our country today.  I have friends that practice these different religions and definitely believe in the need to be tolerant of others with beliefs that differ from my own.

My purpose is not to compare or to try and argue against these other religions.  My purpose here is to consider who Jesus Christ is.  Rather than considering who others say he is, I think the best place to start is with who he said he was.  I guess I am changing the question to: "Who did Jesus claim he was?

John was a close friend and follower of Jesus.  He wrote an account of the life of Jesus.  In his account, the book of John, in chapter 14 John tells of the events surrounding the night that Jesus was arrested and tried.  When Jesus is calming the fears of His closest friends, he tells them not to be troubled but to believe in God and to believe in Him.   He makes the statement that in His Father’s home is more than enough room and that He is going to prepare a place for them.  Then He makes the statement, “you know the way to where I am going.” One of these close friends who was listening was named Thomas.  Thomas was a practical man and tended to look at the facts of the situation.  So when Jesus said, “You know the way to where I am going.” (John 14:4, NLT) Thomas was the one who jumped in and said, “No, we don’t know, Lord. We have no idea where you are going, so how can we know the way?” (John 14:5, NLT)

Jesus’ response to Thomas is a cornerstone of Christian thought and teaching.  He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NLT) 

What exactly was Jesus saying?

First, He says, “I am the way.” What did He mean by saying this? 

John was a Hebrew but he was writing in Greek.  Here in this place our English translators have chosen to use the word way.  The original word was the word road.  Jesus uses a definite article, “the road.”  The definite article means that Jesus was not claiming to be a road, as in one among many but the road as in the only road.

He follows this by saying, “I am the Truth.” Now truth is admittedly a bit trickier to define than road.  According to the dictionary I used, in ancient Greek culture, truth was synonymous with reality as opposed to illusion.[i]  Jesus was in effect saying, “I am reality.”

There is a tendency to say in our present day that what is true for you may not necessarily be true for me.  This kind of relativity works in some situations, but in the real world it is best not to cross the street in front of a moving bus.  If you will allow the analogy Jesus is saying, “I am the bus. I am what is real.”

To make the point even more clear Jesus says, “I am the life.” 

Here, again, the word used for life is unique and important.   It points to all life, whether physical or spiritual throughout the universe.  Jesus is claiming to be the source of all life.

Having made three astounding claims in one sentence Jesus gives the conclusion.  He says, “No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NLT)

We understand Jesus to be referring to God when He says “the Father.” And here he is very direct and very exclusive.  He says, “No one can come to the Father except through me.

I have heard much about inclusive thinking.  It is said that in the west we like to think of either/or.  If one thing is true, a contradicting statement cannot be true at the same time.  You cannot be both up and down at the same time.  I have also heard it explained that in an Eastern way of thinking there is a both/and approach, an ability to embrace to seemingly opposed truths at the same time.  In the up and down illustration, there may be some sense in which both may be true at the same time.

Jesus and John were both Hebrews, which means they came from an eastern culture. I lived in Japan for over 10 years, and became proficient in the language, but I do not make any claims to be an authority on Eastern philosophy or the mindset.  However, I do know that in the East as well as the West, we do not call anybody who makes such outrageous claims as Jesus made a great teacher.  No need to be nice to me and say He was a great teacher and then tell me that all roads lead to God.  If all roads lead to God then Jesus was either a great liar, a complete lunatic or at the very least sorely misled.

Let me ask you a question.  Why is it that no other religious leader's name is used as a swear word?

Who do you think Jesus is?
 
If what He said is true, this is the most important question you will ever be asked.  Because He said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6, NLT)

Do you wonder what path you should be on?  Jesus says He is the path.  Do you ever wonder what truth is?  Jesus says He is the truth.  Do you want to be alive, truly alive?  Jesus says He is life.






[i]Web. 24 Sep 2013. <http://helpsbible.com>.

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