What was Jesus’ mission and purpose here on this earth?

Yesterday my daughter tagged me in a note she wrote on Facebook about a book she’s reading titled “The Case for Christ” by Lee Strobel. Here she presents her thoughtful questions regarding Jesus’ claim to be God. The following is her post and my response.

Elizabeth said

Okay, so I read something pretty interesting and insightful last week.

You know how Jesus Christ always refers to God as “the Father” or “His Father” and so on? Well, how does that work with Jesus claiming to be God? Because I don’t know about you, but from how he relates Himself to God looks an awful lot like He is separate and different from God – almost like His ambassador or servant for His Plan.

But sometimes Jesus says straight out: “I and the Father are one”. So… how do we know that He’s not just referring to being in the same mindset or goals or something? I mean, those are pretty logical and legitamite questions if I don’t say so myself.

Well, I’m reading snippets of a book called “The Case for Christ: A Journalist Personal Investigation of the Evidence for Jesus” (by Lee Strobel).

In one part of the book, the author poses a question to an interviewee about the proclaimed deity of Jesus Christ and how He supposedly denies it of Himself a few times in the Bible.
~~~~~~~~~~

If Jesus was God, what kind of God was he? Was he equal to the Father, or some sort of junior God, possessing the attributes of deity and yet somehow failing to match the total sketch that the Old Testament provides of the divine?

That question comes out of another passage that I pointed out to Carson. “Jesus said in John 14:28, ‘The Father is greater than I.’ Some people look at this and conclude that Jesus must have been a lesser God. Are they right?” I asked.

Carson sighed. “My Father was a preacher,” he replied, “and a dictum in out home when I was growing up was, ‘A text without a context becomes a pretext for a proof-text.’ It’s very important to see this passage in its context.

“The disciples are moaning because Jesus has said he’s going away. Jesus says, “If you loved me, you’d be glad for my sake when I say I’m going away, because the Gather is greater than I.’ That is to say, Jesus is returning to the glory that is properly his, so if they really know who he is and really love him properly, they’ll be glad that he’s going back to the realm where he really is greater. Jesus says in John 17:5, ‘Glorify me with the glory that I had with the Father before the world began’ – that is, ‘the Father is greater than I.’

“When you use a category like ‘greater,’ it doesn’t have to mean ontologically greater. If I say, for example, that the president of the United States is greater than I, I’m not saying he’s an ontologically superior being. He’s greater in military capability, political prowess, and public acclaim, but he’s not more of a man that I am. He’s a human being and I’m a human being.

“So when Jesus says, ‘The Father is greater than I,’ one must look at the context and ask if Jesus is saying, ‘The Father is greater than I because he’s God and I’m not.’ Frankly, that would be a pretty ridiculous thing to say. Suppose I got up on some podium to preach and said, ‘I solemnly declare to you that God is greater than I am.’ That would be a rather useless observation.

“The comparison is only meaningful if they’re already on the same plane and there’s some delimitation going on. Jesus is in the limitations of the Incarnation – he’s going to the cross; he’s going to die – but he’s about to return to the Father and to the glory he had with the Father before the world began.

“He’s saying, ‘You guys are moaning for my sake; you ought to be glad because I’m going home.’ It’s in that sence that ‘the Father is greater than I.’”

“So,” I said, “this isn’t an implicit denial of his deity.”

“No,” he concluded, “it’s really not. The context makes that clear.”
~~~~~~~~~~

The book also addresses many other logical questions, such as:

* How could a compansionate, merciful, and loving God send people to Hell? (which, in all totality is the absence of God).
* Why would Jesus claim to be God if He was a human being?
* Since Jesus claims to be God, does He match up to the attributes of God?
* What was Jesus’ mission and purpose here on this earth?

It’s a really good book. It addresses very important questions in a completely logical and contextual light. I highly suggest it if you’re digging into who Christ really was/is (as I am).

My response
Elizabeth, this brings up several important questions about the Trinity, and people’s belief that there is some kind of eternal subordination between the Father and the Son and Spirit (God). Many teachers, though misinformed, teach this to… be the case. In Philippians 2, many read that passage and say, “Well, Jesus was claiming to be subordinate to the Father, so He presents an eternal subordination in the Trinity…”

This is a teaching (doctrine) that is reflected in Arius’ (AD 250-336) teaching that was declared heretical twice. It’s reflected in the jehovah’s witness’ teaching, in that it makes Jesus a “lesser God”.

To clarify the Philippians 2 passage ( read online here ), this “humility” of Jesus is appropriate for when He was in His human flesh on this earth, over 2000 years ago. He was “obedient unto death, even death on a cross”. He had to be subordinate and obedient to the will of the Father. He claimed in John and the other gospels that “He and the Father were one”. He was perfect in obedience to fulfill every “jot and tittle”, an ancient phrase meaning not one tiny written mark in the breathed-out word of God, including the Law of the Old Testament (showing us how utterly sinful and incapable we were in fulfilling it) would pass away, until it would be fulfilled. Jesus fulfilled the Law of God demanding complete holiness. God knew we couldn’t and so, sent His Son in the flesh to do the holy task for us. Because we all deserve separation from God for our sinful thoughts. But God is compassionate and loving and wants us to know Him. “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him may be saved” (John 3:17).

Understanding the fullness of God in Christ Jesus, and not diminishing Him because He came as a man to serve us, should not allow our thinking to be that He is somehow lesser in the trinity.

This is key, because in many of the teachings in the world that subordinate other humans (African-American slavery, Antebellum South, men in authority over women, the teachings of JW’s, Mormonism, even Islam — that teaches Jesus was only a prophet), claim that Jesus was only a “lesser” god; a glorified human; a man who fulfilled his godhood potential.

Jesus claimed otherwise! He claimed to BE God. So, he either should have been put to death according to the laws of the land (for usurping the King’s authority) or ignored for being a crackpot.

History shows us that Jesus indeed came back from the grave and taught amongst the people, too many to count. Then, He went back to Heaven (according to the Gospel account; think of it as written testimony in a court of Law). Apparently, people were so changed by meeting Jesus and the people He changed that they were willing to die for their faith. Who would follow a delusional liar crackpot? Jesus proved His life among them and committed no sin, for His mission was to be the sacrifice for humanity’s sins that we could never repay God. His life was one of healing people and raising people from the grave and teaching about a new way to heaven through Him by faith. His law is love and faith in Him.

The question posed today for each of us is this:

Do we believe Jesus is God and paid the penalty for our sins? Do we know we’ll go to Heaven to be in His presence when we die?

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3 Responses to “What was Jesus’ mission and purpose here on this earth?”

  1. Oskar ben Eliyahu Says:

    I totally disagree. This jesus u speak of is a man and he did not come to die for our sins. The Bible is very explicit in that each person is responsible for his/her own actions. Jesus cannot do this for us, we are held accountable. Also, God does not approve of human sacrifice. So, jesus’ death is not a legitimate sacrifice according to the word of God. We must not change what God says.

  2. Kathleen Says:

    I totally disagree with you. (See? Isn’t this fun?) No, the bible (Have you actually read the New Testatment of Jesus’ own words? It confirms all He said in the Old Testatment, too. Deuteronomy 6:4 “Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one.”

    Also, in the New Testament, the Jewish writer/disciple Matthew (Matt. 22) wrote Jesus’ words, 34Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. 35One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: 36“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

    37Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’b 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’c 40All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    God sent His Son, Jesus, born of a virgin, to be the One that pays the penalty for all people’s sins. If you are familiar with the scapegoat of Leviticus 16, Christ fulfills this type and shadow of the Old Testament when He was sent to die. Jesus, Messiah, was crucified at the time of Passover, also fulfilling Old Testament prophecy.

    King David prophesied Jesus’ torture and crucifixion in Psalm 22. Jesus is the Suffering Savior prophesied by King David.

    Either Jesus was God and did miracles and spoke the truth, or He was a crazy person (in which, how could His miracles have happened?) or the devil tricking countless people to live for Him for peace and His love for eternity.

    The Apostle Paul, a Pharisee of Pharisees until Jesus met him on the road to Damascus, gave these words in 1 Timothy:

    “I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people— 2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. 3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior, 4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time. 7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle—I am telling the truth, I am not lying—and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles.”

    Have a blessed day. Shalom.

  3. Kathleen Says:

    Jesus Christ is God, and He claimed to be such: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alpha_and_Omega

    Jesus is God: “Oh that we may be, in this sense, the voice of God, the speech of God: the expression of Christ, Who is the Alpha and the Omega.” ~ T. Austin Sparks
    http://www.sermonindex.net/modules/articles/index.php?view=article&aid=1477

    Jesus is God:
    by S. Michael Houdmann
    http://www.gotquestions.org/alpha-and-omega.html

    Question: “What does it mean that Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega?”

    Answer: Jesus proclaimed Himself to be the “Alpha and Omega” in Revelation 1:8, 11; 21:6; and 22:13. Alpha and omega are the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Among the Jewish rabbis, it was common to use the first and the last letters of the Hebrew alphabet to denote the whole of anything, from beginning to end. Jesus as the beginning and end of all things is a reference to no one but the true God. This statement of eternality could apply only to God. It is seen especially in Revelation 22:13, where Jesus proclaims that He is “the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.”

    One of the meanings of Jesus being the “Alpha and Omega” is that He was at the beginning of all things and will be at the close. It is equivalent to saying He always existed and always will exist. It was Christ, as second Person of the Trinity, who brought about the creation: “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made” (John 1:3), and His Second Coming will be the beginning of the end of creation as we know it (2 Peter 3:10). As God incarnate, He has no beginning, nor will He have any end with respect to time, being from everlasting to everlasting.

    A second meaning of Jesus as the “Alpha and Omega” is that the phrase identifies Him as the God of the Old Testament. Isaiah ascribes this aspect of Jesus’ nature as part of the triune God in several places. “I, the Lord, am the first, and with the last I am He” (41:4). “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God” (Isaiah 44:6). “I am he; I am the first, I also am the last” (Isaiah 48:12). These are clear indications of the eternal nature of the Godhead.

    Christ, as the Alpha and Omega, is the first and last in so many ways. He is the “author and finisher” of our faith (Hebrews 12:2), signifying that He begins it and carries it through to completion. He is the totality, the sum and substance of the Scriptures, both of the Law and of the Gospel (John 1:1, 14). He is the fulfilling end of the Law (Matthew 5:17), and He is the beginning subject matter of the gospel of grace through faith, not of works (Ephesians 2:8-9). He is found in the first verse of Genesis and in the last verse of Revelation. He is the first and last, the all in all of salvation, from the justification before God to the final sanctification of His people.

    Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the first and last, the beginning and the end. Only God incarnate could make such a statement. Only Jesus Christ is God incarnate.

    Read more: http://www.gotquestions.org/alpha-and-omega.html#ixzz2gIspCRtf

    —–

    Okay, if more “Jehovah’s Witnesses” (what have you seen, that your Watchtower handlers haven’t spoon-fed you? Have you a personal faith in the Living God??) come here to debate me without using modern technology’s gift to humankind: GOOGLE, then I suggest you knock on someone else’s door. Sorry to be rude, but you will never, ever convince me that your faulty modern “translation” (cough, cough) of the Greek New Testament is even slightly trustworthy. The Greek New Testament used by millions of Christians who KNOW their GOD JESUS over the millenia will always show that Jesus is God. Only blind eyes choose to ignore what the text plainly shows.

    May Jesus, the true and only GOD, give you peace.

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