The astounding claim at the heart of Christianity has to do with who Jesus is. Christians say that Jesus is both truly human and truly God.
Jesus is truly human, having experienced a normal birth, childhood and process of development. He lived with a family in a typical first century Jewish house. At times he felt weary, hungry and thirsty. He experienced pain and suffering when he was tortured and crucified.
He felt a full range of emotions – joy, sorrow, love, compassion and anger. The gospels describe Jesus being tempted to reject God’s ways, but he resisted.
Christians believe Jesus was truly God. The records of his life recount eyewitnesses who observed his power. He displayed power over disease, nature and even death. He was able to cast out demons, exerting authority over powers of evil.
Jesus claimed equality with God. This staggering claim got him into a lot of trouble with religious authorities, eventually leading to his execution. Jesus pronounced judgement on hypocrites and granted repentant sinners forgiveness for their sin. Jesus was a teacher who taught with authority and wisdom. During his life on earth, crowds flocked to hear him teach about God, right living and forgiveness.
The resurrection of Jesus is the most striking thing that singles him out from other religious leaders, and any other person. This is central to Christianity. (See Josh McDowell’s excellent site for more information about the evidence for the resurrection.) Jesus made some astounding claims about himself, which were validated when he came back to life, showing his power over death.
The promised one
In Jesus, all the promises of the Old Testament came to fulfilment. He fulfilled prophecy as the greatest King of God’s people who would bring in a kingdom of righteousness, mercy and justice. He also fulfilled the prophecy of a suffering servant who would deal with the sin of God’s people, by taking this punishment on himself.
Christians wait eagerly for Jesus to return to bring this kingdom to complete fulfillment. The Bible says that when Jesus returns all the wrongs of the world will be put right and creation will be renewed. Wrongdoing will be punished and there will be a rule of righteousness and justice. There will be no more sin or suffering. We are told, ‘he will wipe away every tear’ from his people.
Christians know Jesus as a brother and friend. They believe he understands their sorrows and struggles, because he also experienced these things. Christians also worship Jesus as Lord and ruler of God’s world who rightly deserves their obedience.