What is the Gospel? Why did Jesus come to Earth? What did Jesus do while living? Why did Jesus have to die? Is the resurrection true? These are some of the most foundational questions that must be answered to get a clear understanding of what exactly the Gospel is. Over the next five weeks, let’s dive into the simple beliefs and principles of what we actually believe when we choose to follow Jesus.
Before we get too far, however, we need make sure our starting point is clear. My professors always taught me that how you start is just as important as how you get to a conclusion and the conclusion itself. If you have a weak foundation, the whole building will be compromised. So where do we begin?
Our starting point can be somewhat controversial. In fact, you can’t avoid this topic. It comes after each of us and there’s no indifference or half-hearted answers. Sooner or later, you must answer the question, “Who was Jesus?”
For centuries this question has been tossed around. It’s caused division and church splits. It’s broken friendships and turned family members against one another (Check out Matthew 10:34-39 if you don’t believe this is possible). We like to think of Jesus as this calm, gentle fellow that welcomes everyone into his home, but the truth of the matter is, Jesus is a polarizing figure and often times His claims and His teachings can divide.
So who do you believe that He is? Was a He just a great teacher? Was He a psychotic genius who figured out how to fool everyone? Was He just a legend that His closest followers made up to give people hope? Or, do we believe Him at His word and say, “He’s God in the flesh?”
C.S. Lewis writes about the famous “Trilemma.” He believes that Jesus was either a Liar (convincing millions to follow Him), a Lunatic (He really believed He was divine, but wasn’t) or He’s Lord (everything He claimed was true).
No matter how we want to look at it, Jesus was either the Son of God, or He wasn’t. You have to choose for yourself.
John the apostle was pretty clear on what He thought about Jesus. He writes,
In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God, and the Word was God. He existed in the beginning with God. God created everything through him, and nothing was created except through him. The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone.
If you keep reading, we see in verse 17 that the Word refers of Jesus. So, based on what John writes, who was Jesus?
- Jesus existed from the beginning
- Jesus was with God
- Jesus was God
- Jesus existed in the beginning with God
- Jesus is the being through which EVERYTHING was created
- Jesus gives life and light to everyone
John certainly wasn’t afraid to make a choice about who He believed Jesus was. John unashamedly wrote and preached that Jesus was the Son of God. That He was God come to Earth. No lunatic. No liar. No legend. Jesus is Lord. Let’s add an extra layer of intensity to John’s claim.
John was living in a Roman society that worshiped its government leaders. These leaders were often often referred to as the "Son of God." So for John to make such a claim is blasphemous against the state. But John couldn’t shut up about what he knew to be true. He had seen Jesus. He witnessed His miracles. He heard His teachings. He saw Him die. And then he saw Him walking around after that death. After everything he had seen, John knew that Jesus, the Son of God, had come to Earth in human form.
And if, like John, you decide this to be true then everything changes for you. Because you now believe that The Immaterial has become Material. The Divine has become Human. The Spiritual has become Flesh. There’s no ambivalence on this subject... Either Jesus was God coming into the world in bodily form, or He wasn’t. If it’s not true, then go about your business.
But if it is true... Then your life must change. Your loves must be reorganized. Your life must be restructured. Your world must be reordered. Because it’s no longer about you, but it’s about the true and core belief that God has come to Earth as a human to rescue humanity from a debt that we could never repay.
When you believe that Jesus, God in a Bod (I didn’t come up with that), has come to Earth, your mission in life shifts to letting your world know that God has come to Earth. And this is the starting point of the Gospel. It's the foundation upon which everything else stands. It’s the central tenant that claims the Creator of the Universe, the Almighty God of the Cosmos has come to Earth in the person of Jesus. And the world has never been the same since.
Make sure to check back next week as we continue looking at the foundational beliefs of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.