Anna Faith Smith, a native of Fort Worth, TX, has lived in Phoenix most of her life. She has been Associate Dean of the College of Theology since it was established in 2012. Her passion is cross-cultural communication and ministry. She has been married to Kenneth since 1984 and has two married children and four grandchildren.
Having spent the last six weeks of Theology Thursday considering the fall of humanity and the consequences of sin, we can clearly see that we need hope and that we are incapable of providing that hope for ourselves. What should come as no surprise to us is that God knew we would sin. In addition to that, he knew that we would be incapable of restoring our relationship with him after we had sinned.
In God’s order, every sin had to be covered by the blood of a perfect, spotless sacrifice. God knew, however, that only he could restore our relationship with him, and he knew that restoration would only come through his own personal sacrifice. No matter how hard we tried, we would be utterly incapable on our own.
That personal sacrifice that would restore us was his own Son, Jesus Christ. So what was it about Jesus that made him so important, so significant in this restoration process? Jesus was God in human form. He was perfect, sinless in every way, like no human being before or after. He was not just good; he was God.
Despite the fact that he was tempted in every way just as we are, he did not succumb to human desires, needs or temptations. Having lived a sinless life, he was God’s solution to the problem we had created when we sinned and destroyed the perfect relationship God had begun. Jesus was the unblemished sacrifice that God required. As a human race and as individuals we had all broken what God had made perfect, but through his Son, God restored our relationship with him.
Jesus stands out in the history of humanity no matter who is writing the history. He is unique. He is not just a great teacher, prophet, rabbi and friend. Yes, he was all of those, but he was much more. In Mere Christianity (1955), CS Lewis said “. . . people often say about Him: ‘I’m ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don’t’ accept His claim to be God.’ That is the one thing we must not say” (p. 52). He went on to explain the seriousness of his point, saying, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic . . . or else he would be the Devil of Hell” (p. 52). Whether it is plausible for all who hear about him to believe him or not, his claims about himself, God’s declarations about him and the other biblical sources that directly address the person and work of Christ are clear. They affirm that he is God in the flesh, unique in every way.
The options we have today are to accept or reject his claims and the record of his life. Each person can examine Jesus’ words, his actions, his teachings and his life and decide how to respond. As we examine the birth narrative and the very short account of his youth, we see very little detail. Reading about his ministry and the teachings of his followers, however, we see much more detail about who he was and what he did. His death on the cross was the ultimate personal sacrifice given willingly to restore what we had broken. During this month of remembrance of his birth, let us take time to reflect on the purpose of his coming – his desire to heal a broken world.
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