Who was Jesus Christ? Jesus Christ (3 B.C.-30 A.D.) was the Son of God become man by a virgin birth. Christ is the Creator and sustainer of the universe. By virtue of his two natures (Divine and human) in one body, He was able to reconcile rebellious humanity to offended Deity. This He accomplished by His death and resurrection on the cross. There He redeemed fallen humanity from the just condemnation of God’s broken law. At the moment of his death an amazing series of events marked this as the pivotal point in human history. His last words were “It is finished”, indicating that the power of the rebel leader (the Devil) had been broken. Terrible storm clouds blotted out the sun as God turned His back on His own Son. An earthquake shook the earth, and saints were released from their graves. Most significant of all, the veil of the Temple, which had separated God from the people was torn from top to bottom. It was like the stroke of the invisible sword of God descending from heaven. The awful price had been paid and sinful man was restored to communion with his holy Creator.
Historical context. The Bible tells us that in the fullness of time, “God sent forth his Son…To redeem them that were under the law….” (Gal. 4:4). In explaining the king’s dream (Dan. 2), the prophet Daniel had foretold the passing of four great pagan kingdoms before the kingdom of Christ. The head of gold was Babylon, the breasts of silver were Media-Persia, the thighs of bronze were Greece and the legs of iron were Rome. Rome was to degenerate into an unstable mix of iron and clay during the period of the 10 imperial emperors (toes: cf. also Rev. 17:12) “And in the days of these kings,” said Daniel, “the God of heaven [will] set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed….” (Dan. 2:44).
Thus, at the birth of Jesus, the glory of republican Rome was in decline. But Rome’s power — recently consolidated under the emperors — was enough to enforce order. A system of Roman roads and viaducts unified the Mediterranean basin and sped the gospel message. The hearts of many were prepared to receive the Son of God. The impotence of local gods had been proven against the conquering power of Rome. The Imperial Cult united the Empire religiously and politically, but offered scant satisfaction to the individual. Even among the Jews religious practice had degenerated to a system of legalistic bondage. The pharisaic religious leaders had substituted manmade tradition for the law of God.
Summary of Jesus’ teaching. At the heart of Jesus’ teaching is the gospel, the good news of redemption through his death and rising again. Moreover, the Bible tells us that Jesus rose in triumph over death to secure not only our redemption from Hell. He also died to secure our submission to His Lordship: “For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living” (Rom. 14:9). He thereby established Himself as King (ruler) as well as Prophet (law-giver) and Priest (intercessor).
Jesus came to His own and “His own received Him not” (John 1:12). In the only miracle recorded in all four gospels, Jesus fed 5,000 “camp followers” who then sought to make Him King. He confronted them with their failure to perceive the underlying spiritual dimension of His ministry. That was signified by the analogy of the “living bread” and the requirement to “eat my flesh.” “From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with Him” (John 6:66). Thereafter Jesus informed the Jewish leaders that “The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matt. 21:43). By that He meant the church.
Implications for subsequent history. The Lordship of Christ is comprehensive. Jesus death and rising from the dead won not only the individual, but all creation unto Himself. All creation fell with man and is redeemed with man. Again, in Romans (8:21), we learn that “…the creature [creation] itself also shall be delivered … into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” It is the task and privilege of the redeemed to invite their fellow men to believe the gospel. This is Jesus’ last Great Commission. It includes teaching or discipling all nations “to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you….” (Matt. 28:20). Every sphere of earthly activity — church, business, art, law, education, politics, media, and everything else — is to be brought under control of Christ. The gradual transforming of society by the gospel will include justice in law, which the Bible defines as restitution. Restitution involves the responsibility of the offender to restore the loss to his victim, normally two-fold. The church has not yet awakened to the full scope of the Great Commission. But Christ will not come again until this task is accomplished.
Biblical analysis. But the gospel has already shown its power to form and transform the culture of the West. From the parables of the mustard seed and the leaven (Matt. 13:31-33) we learn that the kingdom of heaven starts out small, but expands to include everything. As we have seen, Jesus set up his kingdom at his first coming, to fulfill the prophets and that kingdom will expand to fill the whole earth prior to His Second Coming (Matt. 13:31-33). At that point His Kingdom will be complete.
Corrective or prescriptive actions. Each person is judged based on their response to Christ. The only unpardonable sin is rejection of God’s free offer of mercy in Him. We must make Him our personal Savior (John 1:12), and work to make Him Lord over every realm of creation (I Cor. 15:27).