Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Who Then Is Jesus Christ?

If it is true, as the Bob Dylan song says, we’re gotta serve somebody, how do we decide who to serve? Paul in Romans 1:1 indicates that the One he serves is Jesus Christ. But why? Paul proceeds to answer that question in the following verses. Jesus is the Son of David predicted in Scripture and was shown to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead. It is this which makes Him the One worth trusting in and the One worth serving. There were many significant moral teachers going around in Jesus’ day. The Jews had their rabbis and the Greeks and Romans their philosophers. If Jesus were merely one of those, then we could put Him on the shelf with all the other moral teachers of history, and He would be just one more addition to the sum of human moral wisdom. He might have founded a small school and left a few wise sayings to be quoted on appropriate occasions, but His ultimate historical significance would be minimal. 

If He were just one more claimant to the Jewish throne who claimed to be the Messiah and tried to overthrow the Roman control of Palestine and failed, He would be nothing more than an historical oddity. (Even if by some unproven accident of history His descendants became the founders of the Merovingian line of the kings of France.) If He were just some mystic who claimed to have an experience of God, He would have sunk into the huge mass of mystics down through the ages (including many in His own time) who claimed such experiences. If Christianity were just another interesting foreign religion, it would have been lost in the multitude of strange foreign religions dotting the Roman empire at the time. But Jesus was the one who fulfilled the prophecies of Scripture and rose from the dead.

Now there were many who claimed to be the Jewish Messiah. But they did not fulfill the prophecies. Many of competing religions in the Empire had the idea of a god who died and was resurrected (this is not surprising since God promised from the beginning there would come One who would crush the head of the bringer of death; see Genesis 3:15). But the competing gods died and were resurrected who knows when and who knows where. Jesus was resurrected in the full light of history, with witnesses (1 Corinthians 15:1-11). This not only demonstrates that He is God come in the flesh (John 1:1-18; Colossians 2:9), but He is the One who has broken the power of sin and death (Colossians 2:10-15; Romans 3:21-28). Therefore God is able through Jesus Christ to offer forgiveness even to the chief of sinners, as Paul calls himself (1 Timothy 1:12-16). It is for this reason that Jesus Christ is the One who Paul served and should be the One we serve (Titus 2:11,12; 2 Corinthians 5:14-15; 1 Corinthians 6:20). For He is the One who is worthy of our service.

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