Theology Thursday: Understanding God Through Jesus Christ

By Dr. Paul R. Raabe

Praying hands rest at the foot of an open Bible

The Apostles' Creed gives a short summary statement of the Christian Faith, spoken and confessed by Christians down through the centuries. In the Apostles' Creed, Jesus is defined as the Son of God and our Lord. Today, everyone must answer the question: Who is Jesus?

Jesus himself asked his disciples, “Who do you say that I AM?” (Matthew 16:15). Everyone must give an answer to that question, both now and ultimately on Judgment Day. The Jesus who asked this question is Jesus of Nazareth, the historical Jesus who conducted his public ministry in the land of Israel during the early part of the first century.

Who is this historical Jesus of Nazareth? Simon Peter answered on behalf of all disciples of Jesus, both then and ever since:

“You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” — Matthew 16:16  

The Christ

The word “Christ” is an English transliteration of the Greek word christos, which means “Anointed One.” It is the Greek rendition of the Hebrew word meshiach, Messiah, “Anointed One.” Peter confessed Jesus of Nazareth to be the promised Messiah, anointed by the Holy Spirit at his baptism. He is the Messianic King of Israel, promised and prefigured in the B.C. Scriptures, the Torah, Prophets and Writings.

The Son of God

Peter also confessed Jesus of Nazareth to be “the Son of the living God.” By “the living God” Peter referred to the God of ancient Israel, the God you read about in the B.C. Scriptures. Jesus is the eternal Son, made flesh of the one true living God. Jesus of Nazareth is the second person of the Holy Trinity in human flesh (Matthew 28:19).

John 3:16 summarizes the overall narrative. The Son is “the only-begotten son,” eternally begotten and generated from the Father. The Father has always been the Father of the Son, and the Son has always been the Son of the Father. In the fullness of time, God the Father sent his only-begotten son into the world to join the human race, to become one of us. The Son took human nature to himself and made it his own. Jesus of Nazareth is true God and true man in one person, the only Son of God his Father.

Our Lord

This Jesus of Nazareth was crucified, bodily raised from the dead and exalted above all things. Jesus is the Lord over all. His Holy Spirit has brought his lordship to us, so that we confess that Jesus is “our Lord” (Romans 10:9). By faith we live under his saving rule.

"Who Do You Say That I AM?"

Throughout the decades and centuries people have shaped Jesus into their own image, into a figure who meets their self-identified needs and desires: Jesus the teacher of liberal morality; Jesus the Nazi; Jesus the Marxist revolutionary; Jesus the greatest therapist; Jesus the Hindu sage; Jesus the Hippie; Jesus the Hollywood Superstar and on and on.

Jesus himself asked: “Who do you say that I AM?” We followers of Jesus of Nazareth believe in our heart and confess with our lips the true Christian Faith, accurately summarized in the Apostles' Creed.

“I believe . . . in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord” — Romans 1:1  

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