Intro: What impact can the life of a single individual have on the history of the world? Any answer I might give to that question would necessarily include a reference to the life of Jesus of Nazareth. No one life has had a greater impact of humanity than Jesus’ relatively short life.
- Jesus of Nazareth was raised in humble Jewish surroundings in Roman-controlled Judea and Galilee. He never traveled more than 200 miles from his birthplace. During his life gathered a relatively small group of followers. After just a short ministry of about 3 years, He was killed for violating the religious laws of his own people. He never sought after or received political power. He never earned an educational degree or invented anything. He accumulated no personal wealth, never raised an army or conquered any territory. In fact, there is no evidence he ever owned any land Himself.
- The Historical Jesus – What must Christians believe about Jesus? Christianity has always been rooted in historical facts, not feelings or mysticism. Those who became Christians confessed that Jesus is the Christ (the Messiah) and the Son of God (Deity). The words of the OT prophets and the miracles Jesus performed gave ample evidence that this was true. But Christians also confess that Jesus was an actual person who lived in Palestine in the first century. 1 John 4:2-3 – Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. The Holy Spirit has provided 4 separate biographies of Jesus of Nazareth (Mt., Mk. Luke & John), each depicting the physical life of Jesus of Nazareth, describing actual historical events.
- Why is the life of Jesus of Nazareth significant? There are so many answers to that question. Most of them are rooted in the fact that Jesus is God, and His life on this earth was the divine purpose of God.
- Born without the participation of an earthly father – conceived of the Holy Spirit;
- anointed by the Holy Spirit and received the power of the Spirit without measure;
- He validated His words through the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit
- He fulfilled all the OT Messianic prophecies (prophet, Priest & King)
- His death on a Roman cross was a divinely planned atonement sacrifice for the sins of the world.
- After 3 days, He resurrected from the dead and is now seated at the right and of God interceding for us.
- The Character of Jesus’ Life: The significance of Jesus’ life, death and resurrection as the consummation of God’s plan to redeem sinful men cannot be overstated. Christ is all and in all (Colossians 3:11) and all spiritual blessings are in Christ (Ephesians 1:3) Truly we stand in Christ alone. But I want to consider some of the characteristics of Jesus life that, not only defined His life, but are foundational to the Christian’s life as well.
- Compassion: Matthew 9:35-38 – 35 Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. 36 But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. 37 Then He said to His disciples, “The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. 38 Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest.” At least 6 times in the gospel accounts Jesus is said to have been motivated by compassion. The word itself means to feel sympathy or pity for another.
- Jesus was moved by the fact that they were vulnerable and lost; without a shepherd. In Mark 6 (feeding of the 5000) the text tells us that Jesus began to teach them. What will we do if we truly have compassion for the lost?
- Submission: John 6:38 – For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. If Jesus voiced the direction and intention of His own life to us, it was in these often-repeated words. Jesus lived Hid life with a purposeful submission to His Father that was evidenced in several ways… What did Jesus’ submission look like?
1.Find authority in the words of God alone.Jesus was asked many questions – some legitimate, others were attempts to trap Him. [What must I do to inherit eternal life? Who is my neighbor? What is the greatest commandment? Whose wife will she be in the resurrection?] Repeatedly Jesus’ first response was to reference the OT scriptures… Luke 10:25-28 – And behold, a certain lawyer stood up and tested Him, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” 26 He said to him, “What is written in the law? What is your reading of it?” Even when facing His own personal temptation, Jesus answered each of Satan’s attempts with “It is written… man does not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God”. (Mt. 4) He was not influenced by popular interpretations or traditional practices. God’s voice alone settled all things.
- Humble yourself before God. Jesus turned the disciple’s worldview on its head by teaching that greatness in the kingdom of God was through serving others.What do you learn from the life of Jesus? Here is Paul’s synopsis…Philippians 2:5-8 – 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. John 13 – God washing the feet of sinful men –John 14– have I been with you so long and you have not seen the Father? Philippians 2:3-4 – but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.
- Obey God at all costs–A clear element of Jesus’ submission was His emphasis on comprehensive obedience. [He learned obedience through His own suffering; He was obedient even to the point of death; if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off – the worst thing that can happen to you is to be separated from God in an eternal hell] Matthew 5:19 – Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven.
- Suffering; Isaiah 53:3-5 – He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him. Jesus lived a life of sorrows, despised and rejected. His suffering is a commendable and righteous quality because it was suffering in consequence of doing goodAll men experience suffering, but not all are willing to suffer for the sake of righteousness or in behalf of others. 1 Peter 2:20-23 – 20 For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. 21 For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: 22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; 23 who, when He was reviled, did not revile in return; when He suffered, He did not threaten, but committed Himself to Him who judges righteously;
- His suffering was intentional and purposeful. He suffered “for us”, and in that suffering He left us an example to follow. We must be willing to take up our cross daily and follow Him.
- Sinlessness: In John 8, in a controversy with His enemies Jesus stated… “And he who sent me is with me; he has not left me alone; for I do always the things that are pleasing unto him” (John 8:29). That is a profound claim. Who could say this about themselves? Especially in the presence of His enemies? Later in the discussion Jesus challenged them directly, “Is there anyone here who can convict me of sin?”(John 8:46). Here was their chance. Who would step forward with a charge? No one! Jesus lived His entire life without sinning.
- 2 Corinthians 5:21, – “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.” The idea of Jesus being made sin for us is more properly understood as be made a sin-offering for us (“For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”– New Living Translation) To say that Jesus “knew” no sin, is to say that he never was intimate with such; he did not ever commit a sin.
- The writer of Hebrews makes this point about Jesus more than once.
- As our true High Priest, and unlike Aaron, Jesus did not have to offer a sacrifice for His own sins Hebrews 7:26-27 – For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; 27 who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.
We therefore conclude with the Hebrew writer: “For we have not a high priest that cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but one that hath been in all like points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).
- As our perfect sacrifice: The proper sin offering under the Levitical system was without blemish. Jesus offered himself as the sacrifice for sin. “Who through the eternal spirit offered himself wit-out blemish unto God . . .” (Hebrews 9:14). “Without blemish” refers to Jesus’ sinless conduct. And “once at the end of the ages hath he been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice to himself’ (Hebrews 9:26). If Jesus had committed one sin (blemish) he could not have put away sin.
- 2. 1 Peter 1:18-19 – knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot. Later in the same Epistle Peter wrote of Jesus… 1 Peter 2:22 “Who committed no sin, Nor was deceit found in His mouth”; Near the end of the New Testament, the apostle John wrote: “You know that he was manifested to take away sins; and in him is no sin” (1 John 3:5).
- What does this mean to me? I am not sinless, but I must strive to be like my Lord. I must strive to not sin. Speaking of Jesus’ death, Paul wrote… Romans 6:10-12 – For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. 11 Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord. Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body, that you should obey it in its lusts.
- Love: How could we attempt to characterize the life of Jesus without mentioning love. Everything Jesus did was motivated by His incomprehensible love for all people – including you and me.
- Ephesians 5:1-2 – Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. 2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. This love was, and is, by definition an conquerable commitment to do what is best for us. It was displayed in Jesus’ willingness to “lay down His life for us” – 1 John 3:16 – By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
- Jesus said His love for us demands our love toward each other. There is no compromise or rationalization here. John 13:34-35 – 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” Jesus said these words right after He washed the apostles’ feet. John tells us that Jesus willingly did this for them because He loved them to the end (John 13:1) Love is not abstract – It is defined by what we do for another, and it defines us as Jesus’ disciples.
Conclusion: How significant is the life of Jesus to the Christian today? Consider this statement form the apostle – Romans 5:6-11– 6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. 10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.
- As former enemies of God, Paul says we could not have been reconciled without the death of Jesus. But then in that same context he states… “much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” What does that mean? Is he saying that the purpose of Jesus’ life was just to leave us a good example to follow? There are some who deny the clear teaching that Jesus had to die for our sins and reject the importance of propitiation in the blood of Jesus. They affirm that Jesus’ life was intended to show us how to live the ideal life ourselves. No, we could not be saved apart from the physical death of Jesus. But it did not end with His death. 3 days later the stone rolled away and Jesus was resurrected from the dead. He is not dead. He ascended to heaven and is now seated at the right hand of God. Even though His death provided a reconciliation It is His now endless life that saves us.
- The writer of Hebrews says Jesus became our High Priest “according to the power of an endless life” (Hebrews 7:16); and later writes… Therefore He is also able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them. (Hebrews 7:25)
- Romans 8:34-35 – It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us.
[Acts 2:22-25 – Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know — 23 Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; 24 whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. ]