Getting more out of....being a Christian
“Why do I need Jesus 2000+ years later?”
To answer this question, take a look at the man and his claims.
When God made the world he made us to be in relationship with him – men and women were the pinnacle of his creation. But the Bible tells us that people destroyed this relationship choosing to go their own way. The result is that all of us are born out of relationship with God and until we come to him, there is a gap to be filled in our lives, a hunger that can only be satisfied by God.
Jesus said in John’s Gospel chapter 6v 35,
"I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.
Jesus is the only one who can satisfy our deepest hunger because he is the one who makes it possible for our relationship with God to be restored.
Jesus not only gives us meaning in this life, he promises us life beyond death forever with him – only through Jesus can we find eternal life.
Jesus came to earth to die instead of us. The penalty for human wrongdoing was separation from God forever – death. God loves us and does not want us to pay this penalty, so he came to earth in his son Jesus and paid the penalty himself. His death means that we can be forgiven and be free – free from guilt, from fear and free from death itself!
By rising from the dead Jesus proved his power to conquer death and proved the reality of his promises.
We can know God, we can be forgiven, we can be sure that nothing will ever again separate us from the love of our maker! How? Because God came to us in Jesus, lived among us, died for us, rose from the dead and promises to come to all who invite him by his Holy Spirit.
When Jesus was born a group of highly intelligent philosophers and astrologers stopped everything and travelled from another country to acknowledge his birth. On arrival, they presented three symbolic presents one of which was gold, a present fit for a king. At the same time Angels appeared to some shepherds announcing that the Messiah, the long-awaited Saviour of Israel was born in the small town of Bethlehem.
For just over three years of his life, Jesus travelled around Palestine teaching and performing miraculous healings – he made an impact wherever he went. He taught about God’s Kingdom and the fact that it had arrived with his coming - he was God’s son, the Saviour. Jesus claimed the authority to forgive sins and said that one day he would come to judge the world. Undoubtedly he perceived himself to be God revealed on earth.
Many admire Jesus for his teaching and exemplary life, but stop short of believing he was the Son of God. This presents difficulties, as the author CS Lewis points out, “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said wouldn’t be a great moral teacher, he would either be a lunatic – on a level with a man who says he is a poached egg – or else he would be the devil of hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was and is the Son of God, or else a madman or something worse…..but don’t lets come up with any patronising nonsense about his being a great human teacher. He hasn’t left that open to us. He didn’t intend to.”
When he was about 33, Jesus was executed by crucifixion by the Roman authorities. The Jews, angered by his claims, accused him of blasphemy and persuaded a weak Roman Governor to have him crucified. Crucifixion was one of the cruellest forms of execution and was later banned by the Romans. Jesus died a horribly slow death in the midday heat surrounded by two convicted criminals.
Two days after his death, when his followers went to the tomb to tend the body of their master and friend, they found that the grave clothes had collapsed and that Jesus’ body was not there.
In the next six weeks he was seen by over 500 people before he went back to heaven. On the day of Pentecost, Jesus’ followers who had deserted him, were filled with new power and courage as they encountered the Lord Jesus coming to them by his Holy Spirit. The Christian Church was born, and grew at a phenomenal rate throughout the known world. The only satisfactory explanation for these events is that Jesus came back from the dead confirming his claims to be the Son of God.
Across the world 1.7 billion people in 254 countries (about 32.9% of the world’s population) claim to know God through the risen Jesus Christ. They have trusted their lives to Jesus and believe they have encountered him by his Holy Spirit who lives within them.
If you feel ready, you can meet Jesus now by acknowledging he is Almighty God and that you need him. In the Bible we are encouraged to repent and put our trust in Jesus: repentance literally means ‘turning around’ to follow Jesus, i.e. turning away from our own way of doing things and following him. Trusting Jesus means more than intellectually accepting he exists, it means putting our lives in his hands, allowing him to transform and guide us.