This series began in Part One as a search for a more meaningful answer to an aspiring young Christian’s question: “Why did God send His only son to die?” The short answer “to save us from our sins,” while correct, really only serves to raise more questions. In part 2, we looked at what sin is, why it matters so much to God, and why it should matter to us. In part 3, we delved into God’s response to sin. In all of that discussion, we have made great mention of the fact that God has a plan for our salvation. Now, in part 4, let us look at how Jesus really fits into that plan.
So how does Jesus fit into this plan of God’s?
If you were to say that Jesus, in fact, is God’s plan for our salvation, you would be correct. God first promised this savior in Genesis 3:15, when sin first entered the world. The verse reads in the ESV:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.
The enmity that God refers to here is opposition to Satan through the offspring born of the woman. Clearly, the “he” in the verse that will “bruise your head” is that offspring. What is meant by bruising the head is the complete victory over the evil one that had the power over death, as told to us in Hebrews 2:14-15. As for how the Crucifixion can be classified as the bruising of the heel, consider that Jesus overcame death itself, and that the ultimate fate of Satan is his utter destruction (Revelation 20:10).
There are a great many prophecies throughout the Bible that promise the coming of this Messiah – many more than we can include in this outline. But the most important of these is arguably that which is written in 2 Samuel 7, where God makes a covenant with David which promises a kingdom from his offspring that will endure forever. He would be the son of God (Psalm 2:7). It is through this offspring of David that the one promised in Genesis 3 will come. He would be sacrificed for our transgressions (Isaiah 53:5-12). And most importantly, he would be risen from the dead (Psalm 16:10, Psalm 49:15).
Who was Jesus really, and where did He come from?
Let us begin with his name. Most people know of Him as Jesus Christ. He has been known this way for so long that many people actually assume that His last name – His surname – was Christ. But that is, of course, not the case. Over the years the reference to Him as Jesus the Christ has simply been shortened. The Hebrew for Messiah and the Greek for Christ (Khristos) both mean anointed or “anointed one.”
Most people know that He was born in Bethlehem of a virgin, and many have wondered what the point is of the long genealogy written in Matthew 1:1-17. This was to document the fact that Jesus’ birth came forth through the line of King David. The names of many of those in that genealogical record are found in books of the Bible (the Old Testament) written in the inspired word of God over many hundreds of years.
But though Jesus was born of a woman, just as had been prophesied, that is not the entire significance of His origin. In John 1:1-18, we are told that before He came to live as a man, Jesus was with God since the beginning of time:
“He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.”
Some say that Jesus never claimed to be deity, but that is certainly not true. In John 10:30, he told the Jewish leaders at the temple “I and the Father are one.” And in John 8:58, he told them “before Abraham was, I am,” which was clearly a reference to the way God identified Himself to Moses in Exodus 3:14.
Paul, in his letter to the Philippians in Philippians 2:5-8, summed up how much Jesus gave up to come to Earth, to become a man, and to suffer a cruel death:
“Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”
As we near the conclusion of this series, we will examine how Jesus measures up with what the people were expecting from the Messiah that had been anticipated for well over a thousand years, what His death meant then and, more importantly, what it means to us now.
image © V. Gilbert & Arlisle F. Beers
Please note: I did not design the reading plan that I am following in my blog. All of my comments in this blog, however, are solely my responsibility. When reading ANY commentary, you should ALWAYS refer first to the scripture, which is God’s unchanging and unfailing word. Reading schedules, as well as a link to the site where you can get the reading plan that I’m currently following for yourself can be found on the “Bible Reading Schedules” page of my website at http://graceofourlord.com. For questions and help, please see the “FAQ” and “Summaries” pages there.