Who Is Jesus & Why Do We Follow Him?
Who Is Jesus & Why Do We Follow Him?
Few people would argue that a Jewish man from Nazareth named Jesus existed. He was clearly an influential figure. In fact, for one reason or another, no other person in history has shaped the world as we know it today. But who was he, really? What did he teach? What was his mission? No matter what one's previous experience with Jesus is, he is influential and important enough to ask these questions and consider them intentionally.
C.S. Lewis famously said that with Jesus, you have three options as far as what to believe about his identity: he's either a liar, a lunatic, or he's Lord. Jesus made outrageous and provocative claims, e.g., that he was the Son of God and that he has the authority to forgive sins. Because of these claims, Jesus left no room for us to consider him merely a good moral teacher or prophet. Either he intentionally lied about who he was, was mentally unstable, or he truly was the Son of God, able to forgive sins. We believe Jesus was neither a deceiver or himself deceived regarding his identity. He was God himself (John 1:1), come to forgive the sins of the world (John 1:29; 3:16-17).
Though fully divine, Jesus was also fully human. He was neither half divine and half human, nor divine in a human "shell." He felt hunger pangs, he got thirsty, he wept and laughed, and he got hot and cold just like the rest of us. However, he was fully God, as well. Paul says that "fullness of God was pleased to dwell" in him (Colossians 2:9). He created the very ground that grew the food that he desired when he was hungry. He had absolute control over the weather and elements that made him hot or cold. This is a great mystery, yet one that is profound and important.
Similarly to Jesus' identity, his purpose is often skewed and misrepresented. To understand his true purpose, we must understand the story of God's salvation of the world. In the beginning, when God created the Universe, he placed mankind on Earth to dwell with him as their Creator, cultivate the world, and steward creation (Genesis 1:28; 2:15; 3:8). Heaven and Earth were meant to coexist; the dwelling place of God and the dwelling place of man were one. But, we rebelled against God and his design, seeking to be our own god. This sin then separated a holy and good God from a fallen mankind, separating Heaven and Earth, as well.
God, though, not being satisfied with separation from his people, had a plan, and that plan was Jesus. Jesus often spoke of the "Kingdom of Heaven" or the "Kingdom of God" as something he came to bring. This new Kingdom that Jesus came to establish was the reuniting of Heaven and Earth—the reuniting of God and his people. How could this be done? By forgiving and ultimately defeating the sin that separates us.
Hebrews 9:22 tells us that "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness." Although this sounds archaic and violent, the truth is, it's simply telling us something that we already know to be true: wronging someone always leads to pain. When someone wrongs us, we have two options: retaliate (inflict pain) or forgive (absorb pain). God had these options, as well, when we wronged him by rebelling and trusting ourselves rather than him, our Creator. Jesus is God's answer to forgiving—his answer to absorbing the pain. In the person of Jesus, God himself paid the price for our rebellion. He took the pain and punishment of our wrongdoing.
This is why Jesus' divinity and humanity are so important. Not just anyone could pay the price that we owed to God; not just anyone could absorb the pain. Only a man could stand in the place of mankind as our representative. Yet only an infinite God could adequately endure the payment that was owed. By offering himself as a sacrifice on our behalf, Jesus, as both God and man, created a way for the mending of the relationship between God and man. Heaven and Earth could be reunited, once more.
Many people have claimed to provide a pathway to God or a way to experience eternal life. So, when Jesus says, "I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6), how can we trust that's true? Many of those alive when Jesus was, including members of his own family, wondered this very same thing. The truth is, anyone can die and claim his death is valuable. But, how do you prove it? How do you ensure people believe your death accomplished what you claim it accomplished?
By not staying dead.
The thing that makes Jesus worth trusting and following is not his teaching, his exemplary life, or even his death; it's his resurrection. By coming back from the dead, Jesus proved, once and for all, that all of his claims of divinity and ability to forgive sins were true. When he resurrected, he validated his identity and his worthiness to be followed. Who can say, "I know better than he who can come back from the dead?"
Since that first Easter Sunday morning when the tomb was empty, Jesus' Resurrection has remained the central piece of the Christian worldview and hope. Because Jesus himself beat death, the consequence of sin, we know we can, too! When we follow him, we know it's not in vain, because we have a living hope! And so, we follow Jesus and trust in his life and death with assurance.
If you have any questions about who Jesus was and what he came to accomplish, please get in touch.
For more on the identity and purpose of Jesus, check out these helpful resources:
Mere Christianity, by C.S. Lewis
More Than A Carpenter, by Josh McDowell
Jesus the King: Understanding the Life and Death of the Son of God, by Timothy Keller
The Case for Christ: A Journalist's Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus, by Lee Strobel
First Steps & Important Information
First Steps & Important Information
Our mission is to equip a community to worship God and live on mission for the Gospel. This mission is built upon our three core values: Gospel-centered Worship, Gospel-centered Mission, and Gospel-centered Community. We seek to make sure that everything we do as a church family is directed toward that end.
Here at Bridge Point, we do things simply. We "Gather" and we "Scatter." What we mean by that is we are a church family that takes serious the instruction to gather together in corporate worship (Hebrews 10:25), and we also are committed to living out the Christian life on mission every day, and so, through our Missional Communities, we scatter out into the community during the week. The whole of our church's identity is built on these two facets of our ministry. We hope to see the Gospel message take root in and transform the Cypress community.
One of the best ways to begin involvement with Bridge Point is to gather with us on Sundays. As a nondenominational, multi-generational church, we have families and individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds and traditions that have found their home with us. This is in large part because we are serious about keeping the Gospel—the good news and hope of Jesus—at the center of everything we do, which includes our Sunday gatherings. This means that we, as a family, are not united on secondary issues, such as worship-style preferences, and instead are united on the fact that we want to remember and celebrate the person and work of Jesus each week. We consider ourselves blessed to have a church family that finds unity even without uniformity.
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While Sunday mornings are the primary way that we are reminded of and refocused on the hope we have in Jesus, we know that one hour once a week is not enough time to build the type of relationships we as a church want to develop—both our relationships with Jesus and with one another. This is why we have Missional Communities.
Missional Communities are just that: communities living on mission together. We believe that the best relationships are forged when the group shares a common mission—a shared goal. Missional Communities, or MCs, provide an opportunity for people to find authentic, transparent, joy-filled relationships built on the common mission of making Jesus known to those around us.
Click to learn more about what Missional Communities are, what they provide, or how to visit one: