Who was Jesus? Was he one of many good philosophers throughout history? Was he a violent revolutionary? Was he a counter-culture teacher who preached free love and destroyed "restrictive" rules? Was he God disguised as a man, who came from heaven to die a ritual death and “buy” our souls from Satan? Was he a deity who only appeared to be human?
All of these theories have been preached and taught throughout history. But can all of them be true? Are none? Just who WAS this man? To learn this, we should probably listen to his own words, and to those who knew him.
A few weeks back, we introduced the opening sentence of the Jesus Followers' Statement of Belief, "We follow Jesus Alone." Now, we continue with the second of 13 Statements, which states that Jesus is, "God's Chosen, Adopted, and Anointed Spokesman."
It's clear that God set Jesus apart from other men, adopting and anointing him as a special spokesman at his baptism: chosen by God, anointed by God, and sent by God. Jesus himself is clear about this, the Gospels attest to it, and the Apostles taught it. And yet these truths are shockingly absent from today’s Christian pulpits.
The early church spoke of Jesus as a man, chosen by God. In Peter’s sermons in Acts, he speaks of him as, "Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God" (Acts 2:22.) At the Transfiguration, no less than God is quoted as saying, "This is my Son, my Chosen One; listen to him!"
As the Kings and the prophets of the Hebrew Bible (Old Testament) were set apart and "anointed" by God to be his servants and messengers, so, too, was Jesus anointed by God, and in his first sermon, he says specifically, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me." (Luke 4:18) and in Acts, Peter says, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth." (Acts 10:38.)
Thus anointed and chosen, this Jesus was adopted by God as His unique "Son." At his baptism, God’s voice says, “This day, I have begotten you,” (Acts 13:33, Luke 3:22) thus becoming his father by adoption.
Jesus said himself that it was God who “sent me” (Mark 9:37, Luke 9:48, John 5:37-38) and so also taught the first disciples of Jesus, who went out preaching his words.
Jesus, therefore, isn't merely a philosopher with his own theories, but a spokesman for God. “My teaching is not mine,” he says, “but His who sent me” (John 7:16.) Nor can he be a non-human hybrid, through which we can live with God eternally if we simply believe in Jesus’ death, but ignore his words, which he said would “never pass away” (Matt. 5:18, Mark 13:31, Luke 21:33.)
The early Church that gathered in Jerusalem after the death of Jesus and his return to God in the resurrection, saw Jesus as a man (Acts 2:22) chosen by God, sent by God and adopted by God at his baptism to proclaim a Good and Beneficial Message to mankind, the Gospel. They recognized this message as calling on all to repent and turn back to God, seeking God’s perfect standards, living meekly and in holiness, and being a light of Righteousness to all the world. We can do no less today if we call ourselves Jesus Followers.