Jesus has been acclaimed as the greatest religious leader who ever lived, as being the most influential person to have lived on our planet, and as being unique to the degree that no one can be compared to Him.
But considering Jesus Christ merely on the basis of an exemplary life and His superior moral teaching will not remove the stumbling blocks to Christianity raised by an unbelieving world. The real test of what one thinks of Him must revolve around who He claimed to be and what He accomplished during His brief mission to our planet. Our conclusion must be that there is no Christianity without Christ; all centers in Him.
The predominant theme of the Scriptures is the Person and the work of Jesus Christ. He is God. He became a human being, died by crucifixion, and was buried. He rose again from the dead. He is the only, all-sufficient Savior of the world. He will come again to this earth. Removing this from the Scriptures robs them of all coherent meaning and continuity.
Jesus Christ is God:
Deity is the only explanation for all that He was and all that He did.
(1) He was pre-existent with the Father. “The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not anything made that was made” (John 1:2, 3, KJV). (Also see John 17:5 and Colossians 1:17.)
(2) He is the Son of God.
His enemies admitted: “He…said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God” (John 5:18, KJV).
Peter confessed: “And we believe and are sure that thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:69, KJV).
Jesus affirmed: “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30, NIV).
(3) He was sinless, as only God can be.
Jesus challenged His enemies: “Which of you convinceth me of sin?” (John 8:46, KJV).
Peter testified: “…Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example that ye should follow his steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth” (1 Peter 2:21, 22, KJV).
Paul stated: “For he…made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him” (2 Corinthians 5:21, KJV).
(4) He forgives sin, as only God can.
The Scribes said: “Who can forgive sins but God only?” (Mark 2:7, KJV).
Jesus said: “But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins…” (Matthew 9:6, KJV). (Also see John 8:11.)
Peter wrote: “Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed” (1 Peter 2:24, KJV).
(5) He performed miraculous works.
He healed the sick: Matthew 8:9-13; Luke 4:31-44; 5:12-15; John 4:43 to 5:16; and other references.
He fed the hungry: John 6; Mark 8, etc.
He raised the dead: Luke 7:11-18; John 11:1-46.
Jesus Christ Became Man:
“And the Word was made flesh and dwelt among us…full of grace and truth” (John 1:14, KJV). (See also Philippians 2:7, 8.)
(1) His miraculous birth was prophesied 800 years before His coming: “Behold a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14, KJV).
(2) The prophecy was fulfilled to the letter. “Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus” (Luke 1:30, 31, KJV).
(3) Jesus demonstrated human characteristics: He became tired (John 4:6). He thirsted (John 19:28), He ate food (Luke 24:40-43), He showed feelings (Mark 6:34), He wept (John 11:35), He knew temptation (Hebrews 4:15), and He died (John 19:30).
Jesus Christ Accomplished the Works of His Father:
(1) He died on the Cross. This is the fundamental theme of the Gospel.
The fact of His death—One-fourth of the Gospels are dedicated to His Passion and Resurrection. (a) For this purpose He came into the world (John 12:27). (b) His death was prophesied hundreds of years before He came (Isaiah 53:3-8).
The meaning of His death. (a) It was a ransom for sin (Matthew 20:28; Romans 3:24; 1 Peter 1:18). (b) It was to pay the penalty for sin (Romans 3:24; 1 John 2:2; 4:10). Man is the object of God’s wrath because of rebellion and sin, but God took the initiative in satisfying His wrath by sending His own Son to Calvary. (c) It is a reconciliation. The enmity between us and God has ended (Romans 5:10), and we are restored to God (2 Corinthians 5:18, 19). (d) It is a substitution: He died in our place (1 Peter 3:18; 2 Corinthians 5:21). (e) In summary, the matter of sin has been completely dealt with (1 Peter 2:24; Hebrews 9:26; Hebrews 10:12).
(2) He was resurrected from the dead: This is unique and fundamental to Christianity.
The reality of the Resurrection (John 20:1-10; 1 Corinthians 15:4).
The credibility of the Resurrection: (a) Jesus predicted it: Matthew 13:39-41; Luke 24:1-7. (b) The tomb was empty: John 20:11-13. (c) Many witnesses saw Him alive: the women (Luke 23:55, 56); Mary Magdalene (John 20:1, 2, 11-18); Peter and the other disciples (John 20:3-9, 19, 20, 24-31; 21:1-14).
The Results of His Work:
(1) He ascended to His Father (Luke 24:49-53; Acts 1:6-11).
(2) He is our eternal Mediator (1 Timothy 2:5; Hebrews 8:6; 1 John 2:1.
(3) He is our Savior: “Thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21, KJV). “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Savior, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins” (Acts 5:31, KJV).
He is the only Savior. “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12, NIV).
He is a complete Savior. “Wherefore he is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them” (Hebrews 7:25, KJV).
He is a personal Savior. “That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness: and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9, 10, KJV).
The Consummation of His Work:
(1) He shall return again to this earth (Acts 1:11; Hebrews 10:37; John 14:3).
(2) Believers in Christ shall be bodily resurrected to begin a new, undying life (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18; 1 Corinthians 15:51-58).
(3) He will reign as King of kings and Lord of lords over His new creation (2 Peter 3:10-13; Revelation 22:3-5).
The Billy Graham Christian Worker’s Handbook (Minneapolis: World Wide Publications, 1984), pp. 152-154