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Who is Jesus?

“Each account emphasizes different details of His story, yet together these accounts form a beautiful mosaic of who He is.” By Hakeem Bradley

“Who is Jesus?” Millions have asked this question throughout the last 2,000 years, resulting in countless conclusions. There are four early records of His life called the “Gospels,” based on the eyewitness claims of His early followers. These Gospels are four literary masterpieces that declare the story of Jesus as “good news” for everyone to know about. Each account emphasizes different details of His story, yet together these accounts form a beautiful mosaic of who He is. But wait …why did the authors of these Gospels believe His story to be good news? 

Understanding History

During Jesus’s time, the Roman Empire was the most dominant kingdom in the world and reigned over the entire Mediterranean region. Sadly, being ruled by foreign powers was not unfamiliar territory for Jesus’s nation. But they were not without hope, even under this new empire. They anticipated the arrival of a king who would liberate them from the foreign powers and would come from the lineage of a former Israelite king named David. This anticipated king was known as the “Messiah.” 

For several years, Jesus walked from town to town calling for His fellow Jews to place their trust in what He articulated as good news: the arrival of God’s Kingdom (Mark 1:14-15). He understood Himself to be the King and God’s chosen representative to relationally reconcile humans with God. Yet, this reconciliation was not an idea that Jesus made up in His day; rather He was the climax of a story that began back in Genesis 1. 

In The Beginning

The relationship between God and humans began at creation when God made humans as His ruling representatives on the land (Genesis 1:26-31). Following this, the scene switches to an abundant garden where a man and woman are invited to dwell with God (Genesis 2:2-25). However, things took a drastic shift after a deceiving serpent came onto the scene and the humans chose to disobey God’s wise instruction not to eat from a forbidden tree (Genesis 3:1-7). As a result, they were ushered out of the garden, but not without hope. God stated that there would come a descendant from the woman’s lineage that would be hurt by the serpent but would inflict a lethal blow to the serpent (Genesis 3:15). As the biblical story continues, humanity goes into a downward spiral generation after generation, leading to chaos, violence and death. 

The Grace of God

Nevertheless, God did not abandon humanity. Out of the downward spiral, God chose a man named Abram, later known as Abraham, to be the vehicle through whom He would restore His blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:1-3). Abraham’s family grew as generations passed and they became known as “Israelites.” Terribly, this family was enslaved in Egypt, but God raised a man named Moses to be His representative in delivering the Israelites from enslavement (Exodus 1-15). Afterwards, God led them into a wilderness and formed a partnership with them. 

As the years went by, the experience of this covenant was a mix of triumphs and failures on the part of the Israelites. When they entered the land that God gifted them, they established a kingdom, of which David became the most celebrated king in their history. God promised David that one of his descendants will rule as king forever (2 Samuel 7:12-16). Decades later, the kingdom split in two and God sent messengers to call both kingdoms to be faithful to Him and their partnership. After centuries passed, both kingdoms ultimately were unfaithful and were overtaken and kicked out of their land by the Assyrians and Babylonians, respectively. 70 years later, some of the people were allowed to return to their homeland under the reign of the Medo-Persians, but were then overtaken by the Greeks, followed by the Romans. How would God fulfill His promises after all of this? Through a Jewish baby born in Bethlehem named Jesus. 

The Ministry of Jesus

Jesus was raised in a small town named Nazareth and when He was around 30 years old, He began His vocation as a rabbi (Luke 3:23). His first stop was to be baptized by His cousin, John the Baptizer and there, God openly identified Jesus as His beloved Son (Matthew 3:13-17). 

Like His ancestors, Jesus was led into a wilderness where His faithfulness to God was tested, but He succeeded! Afterward, He publicly declared that He was sent to proclaim that God’s Kingdom was present, especially to those on the social margins (Luke 4:18-19). He was the awaited Messiah, but different than anticipated. Many expected the Messiah to bring liberation by defeating the Romans in war, but King Jesus was on a mission to overthrow the tyranny of a much larger enemy: the devil, sin and death. He was a new Moses, leading others to freedom from these powers. Yet, Jesus would not accomplish this mission with a sword, but through the giving of His own life. 

For roughly three years, Jesus revealed God’s Kingdom through healing people from illnesses, casting out demons, forgiving sins, teaching, revealing God’s character and so much more! Throughout his ministry, Jesus was called by various titles like the Son of God, Son of David, and other alternatives. Yet, the most common title that Jesus used for Himself was the Son of Man. In some of His teachings, He taught that the Son of Man came to earth to look for and rescue those who were “lost” (Luke 19:10) and to give His life to rescue them (Mark 10:45). His goal was to rescue people from the tyranny of the spiritual enemies. However, this goal did not come without opposition, especially from Israel’s leaders whom He often critiqued. At the end of His ministry, Jesus went to Jerusalem and these leaders to plan to arrest and kill Him (Matthew 26:1-5).

Jesus’s Death and Resurrection

Jesus was betrayed by one of His closest friends, arrested by Israel’s leaders and handed over to the Romans to be executed. He was executed on a cross and while others saw His death as defeat, it was actually His lethal blow to that old serpent and His defeat of sin (John 19:16-37). But it did not stop there. He was victorious over death itself when He rose from the dead a few days later (John 20:1-29)! He reappeared to His followers for several weeks and then tasked them with spreading the good news about God’s Kingdom by forming new followers of Jesus from all nations (Matthew 28:18-20). Through the risen Jesus, God’s blessing was being restored to all nations as God promised to Abraham. Then Jesus returned to His Father to sit on His throne as the Davidic King over all (Luke 24:50-53) and He will return to renew creation once and for all. 

But until then, Jesus invites you and I to join into the story that He has carried forward and lives on today. God’s Kingdom is just as present today as it was 2,000 years ago, and the Kingdom is presently available to anyone who trusts Jesus to be and do all that He claimed. 

Jesus’s rescuing liberation, reconciliation and healing are accessible to you and me, right now. He has guaranteed it. 

For Further Reflection

Jesus has revealed who He is, and you are invited to know Him personally. That invitation includes becoming like Him in character and action as a participant in His Kingdom’s mission. Our participation includes learning and living by His teachings with other Jesus followers, sacrificing our time and resources for others in need and sharing the news that Jesus brings peace, restoration and healing to the world. Take some time to read the Gospels and repeatedly reflect on what their words reveal about King Jesus.

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Hakeem was born and raised in Philadelphia, PA. He lives with his wife Jazmon, their son named Ezekiel and a daughter on the way. He works as a research scholar at BibleProject and has served in pastoral ministry for almost 10 years.

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