Who Is Jesus Christ?

What Does the Bible Really Teach?

CHAPTER FOUR

Who Is Jesus Christ?

What is Jesus’ special role?

Where did he come from?

What kind of person was he?

THERE are many famous people in the world. Some are
well-known in their own community, city, or country. Others are known
worldwide. However, just knowing the name of someone famous does not
mean that you truly know him. It does not mean that you know
details about his background and what he is really like as a person.

2
People around the world have heard something about Jesus Christ, even
though he lived on earth some 2,000 years ago. Yet, many are confused
about who Jesus really was. Some say that he was merely a good man.
Others claim that he was nothing more than a prophet. Still others
believe that Jesus is God and should be worshiped. Should he?

3 It is important for you to know the truth
about Jesus. Why? Because the Bible says: “This means everlasting life,
their taking in knowledge of you, the only true God, and of the one
whom you sent forth, Jesus Christ.”
(John 17:3)
Yes, knowing the truth about Jehovah God and about Jesus Christ can lead
to everlasting life on a paradise earth. (John 14:6)
Furthermore, Jesus sets the best example of how to live and how to treat
others. (John
13:34, 35
) In the first chapter
of this book, we discussed the truth about God. Now let us consider what
the Bible really teaches about Jesus Christ.

THE PROMISED MESSIAH

4 Long before Jesus was born, the Bible foretold
the coming of the one whom God would send as the Messiah, or Christ.
The titles “Messiah” (from a Hebrew word) and “Christ” (from a Greek
word) both mean “Anointed One.” This promised One would be anointed,
that is, appointed by God to a special position. In later chapters of
this book, we will learn more about the Messiah’s important place in the
fulfillment of God’s promises. We will also learn about the blessings
that Jesus can bring us even now. Before Jesus was born, however, many
no doubt wondered, ‘Who will prove to be the Messiah?’

5 In the first century C.E., the disciples of
Jesus of Nazareth were fully convinced that he was the foretold Messiah.
(John 1:41)
One of the disciples, a man named Simon Peter, openly said to Jesus:
“You are the Christ.” (Matthew 16:16)
How, though, could those disciples—and how can we—be sure that Jesus
really is the promised Messiah?

6 The prophets of God who lived before Jesus
foretold many details about the Messiah. These details would help others
to identify him. We might illustrate things this way: Suppose you were
asked to go to a busy bus depot or a train station or an airport to pick
up someone you had never met before. Would it not help if someone gave
you a few details about him? Similarly, by means of the Bible prophets,
Jehovah gave a rather detailed description of what the Messiah would do
and what he would experience. The fulfillment of these many prophecies
would help faithful ones to identify him clearly.

7 Consider just two examples. First, over 700
years in advance, the prophet Micah foretold that the promised One would
be born in Bethlehem, a small town in the land of Judah. (Micah 5:2)
Where was Jesus actually born? Why, in that very town! (Matthew 2:1, 3-9) Second,
many centuries in advance, the prophecy recorded at Daniel 9:25
pointed to the very year when the Messiah was to appear—29 C.E.* The
fulfillment of these and other prophecies proves that Jesus was the
promised Messiah.

At his baptism, Jesus became the Messiah, or Christ

8 Further proof that Jesus was the Messiah
became clear near the end of 29 C.E. That is the year when Jesus went to
John the Baptizer to be baptized in the Jordan River. Jehovah had
promised John a sign so that he could identify the Messiah. John saw
that sign at Jesus’ baptism. The Bible says that this is what happened:
“After being baptized Jesus immediately came up from the water; and,
look! the heavens were opened up, and he saw descending like a dove
God’s spirit coming upon him. Look! Also, there was a voice from the
heavens that said: ‘This is my Son, the beloved, whom I have approved.’”
(Matthew
3:16, 17
) After seeing and hearing what happened, John had no doubt
that Jesus was sent by God. (John 1:32-34)
At the moment when God’s spirit, or active force, was poured out upon
him that day, Jesus became the Messiah, or Christ, the one appointed to
be Leader and King.—Isaiah 55:4.

9
The fulfillment of Bible prophecy and Jehovah God’s own testimony
plainly show that Jesus was the promised Messiah. But the Bible answers
two other important questions about Jesus Christ: Where did he come
from, and what kind of person was he?

WHERE DID JESUS COME FROM?

10 The Bible teaches that Jesus lived in heaven
before he came to earth. Micah prophesied that the Messiah would be
born in Bethlehem and also said that His origin was “from early times.” (Micah 5:2) On
many occasions, Jesus himself said that he lived in heaven before being
born as a human. (John 3:13; 6:3862; 17:4, 5) As a
spirit creature in heaven, Jesus had a special relationship with
Jehovah.

11 Jesus is Jehovah’s most precious Son—and for
good reason. He is called “the firstborn of all creation,” for he was
God’s first creation.# (Colossians 1:15)
There is something else that makes this Son special. He is the
“only-begotten Son.” (John 3:16)
This means that Jesus is the only one directly created by God. Jesus is
also the only one whom God used when He created all other things. (Colossians 1:16)
Then, too, Jesus is called “the Word.” (John 1:14)
This tells us that he spoke for God, no doubt delivering messages and
instructions to the Father’s other sons, both spirit and human.

12 Is the firstborn Son equal to God, as some
believe? That is not what the Bible teaches. As we noted in the
preceding paragraph, the Son was created. Obviously, then, he had a
beginning, whereas Jehovah God has no beginning or end. (Psalm 90:2) The
only-begotten Son never even considered trying to be equal to his
Father. The Bible clearly teaches that the Father is greater than the
Son. (John
14:28
; 1 Corinthians
11:3
) Jehovah alone is “God Almighty.” (Genesis 17:1)
Therefore, he has no equal.%

13 Jehovah and his firstborn Son enjoyed close
association for billions of years—long before the starry heavens and the
earth were created. How they must have loved each other! (John 3:35; 14:31) This
dear Son was just like his Father. That is why the Bible refers to the
Son as “the image of the invisible God.” (Colossians 1:15)
Yes, even as a human son may closely resemble his father in various
ways, this heavenly Son reflected his Father’s qualities and
personality.

14 Jehovah’s only-begotten Son willingly left
heaven and came down to earth to live as a human. But you may wonder,
‘How was it possible for a spirit creature to be born as a human?’ To
accomplish this, Jehovah performed a miracle. He transferred the life of
his firstborn Son from heaven to the womb of a Jewish virgin named
Mary. No human father was involved. Mary thus gave birth to a perfect
son and named him Jesus.—Luke 1:30-35.

WHAT KIND OF PERSON WAS JESUS?

15 What Jesus said and did while on earth helps
us to get to know him well. More than that, through Jesus we come to
know Jehovah better. Why is this the case? Recall that this Son is a
perfect reflection of his Father. That is why Jesus told one of his
disciples: “He that has seen me has seen the Father also.” (John 14:9) The
four Bible books known as the Gospels—Matthew, Mark, Luke, and
John—tell us much about the life, activity, and personal qualities of
Jesus Christ.

16 Jesus was well-known as “Teacher.” (John 1:38; 13:13) What
did he teach? Primarily, his message was “the good news of the
kingdom”—that is, God’s Kingdom, the heavenly government that will rule
over the entire earth and will bring endless blessings to obedient
humans. (Matthew
4:23
) Whose message was this? Jesus himself said: “What I teach is
not mine, but belongs to him that sent me,” namely, Jehovah. (John 7:16)
Jesus knew that his Father wants humans to hear about the good news of
the Kingdom. In Chapter 8,
we will learn more about God’s Kingdom and what it will accomplish.

Jesus preached wherever he found people

17 Where did Jesus do his teaching? Everywhere
he found people—in the countryside as well as in cities, in villages, in
marketplaces, and in their homes. Jesus did not expect people to come
to him. He went to them. (Mark 6:56; Luke 19:5, 6)
Why did Jesus go to such lengths and spend so much of his time
preaching and teaching? Because doing so was God’s will for him. Jesus
always did his Father’s will. (John 8:28, 29)
But there was another reason why he preached. He felt compassion for
the crowds of people who came out to see him. (Matthew 9:35, 36)
They were neglected by their religious leaders, who should have been
teaching them the truth about God and his purposes. Jesus knew how much
the people needed to hear the Kingdom message.

18 Jesus was a man of tender warmth and deep
feelings. Others thus found him to be approachable and kind. Even
children felt at ease with him. (Mark 10:13-16)
Jesus was impartial. He hated corruption and injustice. (Matthew
21:12, 13
) At a time when women received little respect and had few
privileges, he treated them with dignity. (John 4:927) Jesus was
genuinely humble. On one occasion, he washed the feet of his apostles, a
service usually performed by a lowly servant.

19 Jesus was sensitive to the needs of others.
This was especially evident when, under the power of God’s spirit, he
performed miracles of healing. (Matthew 14:14)
For example, a man with leprosy came to Jesus and said: “If you just
want to, you can make me clean.” Jesus personally felt this man’s pain
and suffering. Moved with pity, Jesus stretched out his hand and touched
the man, saying: “I want to. Be made clean.” And the sick man was
healed! (Mark
1:40-42
) Can you imagine how that man must have felt?

FAITHFUL TO THE END

20 Jesus set the finest example of loyal
obedience to God. He remained faithful to his heavenly Father under all
kinds of circumstances and despite all types of opposition and
suffering. Jesus firmly and successfully resisted Satan’s temptations. (Matthew 4:1-11)
At one time, some of Jesus’ own relatives did not put faith in him,
even saying that he was “out of his mind.” (Mark 3:21) But
Jesus did not let them influence him; he kept right on doing God’s work.
Despite insults and abuse, Jesus maintained self-control, never trying
to harm his opposers.—1 Peter 2:21-23.

21
Jesus remained faithful until death—a cruel and painful death at the
hands of his enemies. (Philippians 2:8)
Consider what he endured on the last day of his life as a human. He was
arrested, accused by false witnesses, convicted by corrupt judges,
laughed at by mobs, and tortured by soldiers. Nailed to a stake, he took
his last breath, crying out: “It has been accomplished!” (John 19:30)
However, on the third day after Jesus died, his heavenly Father
resurrected him back to spirit life. (1 Peter 3:18) A
few weeks later, he returned to heaven. There, he “sat down at the
right hand of God” and waited to receive kingly power.—Hebrews
10:12, 13
.

22 What did Jesus accomplish by remaining
faithful until death? Jesus’ death actually opens to us the opportunity
for eternal life on a paradise earth, in harmony with Jehovah’s original
purpose. How Jesus’ death makes that possible will be discussed in the next chapter.


*  For
an explanation of Daniel’s prophecy fulfilled in connection with Jesus,
see the Appendix.

#  Jehovah is called a Father because he is the
Creator. (Isaiah
64:8
) Since Jesus was created by God, he is called God’s Son. For
similar reasons, other spirit creatures and even the man Adam are called
sons of God.—Job
1:6
; Luke
3:38
.

%  For further proof that the firstborn Son is not
equal to God, see the Appendix.

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES

  • Fulfilled prophecy and God’s own testimony prove that Jesus is the
    Messiah, or Christ.—Matthew 16:16.
  • Jesus lived in heaven as a spirit creature long before he came to
    earth.—John
    3:13
    .
  • Jesus was a teacher, a man of tender warmth, and an example of
    perfect obedience to God.—Matthew 9:35, 36.

Study Questions

1, 2. (a) Why does knowing about someone famous not mean
that you truly know him? (b) What confusion is there about
Jesus?

3. Why is it important for you to know the truth about
Jesus?

4. What do the titles “Messiah” and “Christ” mean?

5. Of what were the disciples of Jesus fully convinced
regarding him?

6. Illustrate how Jehovah has helped faithful ones to
identify the Messiah.

7. What are two of the prophecies that were fulfilled in
connection with Jesus?

8, 9. What proof that Jesus was the Messiah became clear
at his baptism?

10. What does the Bible teach about Jesus’ existence
before he came to earth?

11. How does the Bible show that Jesus is Jehovah’s most
precious Son?

12. How do we know that the firstborn Son is not equal to
God?

13. What does the Bible mean when it refers to the Son as
“the image of the invisible God”?

14. How did Jehovah’s only-begotten Son come to be born
as a human?

15. Why can we say that through Jesus we come to know
Jehovah better?

16. What was Jesus’ primary message, and where did his
teachings come from?

17. Where did Jesus do his teaching, and why did he go to
great lengths to teach others?

18. What qualities of Jesus do you find most appealing?

19. What example shows that Jesus was sensitive to the
needs of others?

20, 21. How did Jesus set an example of loyal obedience
to God?

22. What did Jesus accomplish by remaining faithful until
death?

Published in 2005

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