Pastor Jerry Donovan
Hindus, Muslims, and Jews believe there is a God, the vast majority of the world’s people also believe in a god. Some religions recognize Jesus as a prophet, or an important teacher, or even a religious reformer. Even atheists like Richard Dawkins agree that he was a “great moral teacher.” The Christian faith says he was indeed all of this, but much more as well.
Jesus didn’t leave any written documents. Most of the people he ministered to could not read or write. Few Roman documents exist from the first half of the first century, and it would be highly unlikely that the crucifixion of a Jewish peasant living at the edge of the Roman Empire would have been noteworthy enough to have been recorded. The earliest and most extensive information we have are contained in the four Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke and John written between A.D. 50 and 95. These documents are biographical narratives in nature. Choosing to believe in Jesus is choosing to believe what the earliest Christians preached, taught and wrote about.
Jesus’ ministry demonstrated his compassion for the sick, the marginalized, and all those who were “lost.” His ministry only lasted three years, but he found himself at odds with religious authorities from the very beginning. He believed they pushed people away from God instead of bringing people to God, and that they were full of pride and hypocrisy.
The main point of his teaching and preaching was about the “kingdom not of this world” that is made up of all who love God and do his will; they love their neighbor and they love their enemy. The citizens of this kingdom don’t seek revenge but practice forgiveness. The truly greatest virtue in this kingdom are those who act as servants in humility. He taught people that the kingdom of God was among them and with them. It existed wherever people put their trust in God, sought to love God, and love their neighbor.
Jesus was not concerned with overthrowing the Romans. The enemy he wanted to save them from was the hate, indifference, pride, and hypocrisy in every human heart; SIN that results in separation from God and neighbor. Sin is anything we do in thought, word, or deed that is out of step with loving God or neighbor.
Many people felt they heard the very words of God when Jesus was teaching. Additionally, Jesus did things that ordinary people could not do. He ministered to the mentally ill and demon-possessed, he healed the sick, opened the eyes of the blind, commanded the storms on the Sea of Galilee to be still, and even raised the dead. Many Christians believe that God came to humanity in the flesh of Jesus Christ.
God showed in Jesus that he cares very much about those who are lost and those who are small and weak. Instead of telling us how to love, how to forgive, how to give, and how to serve; our God incarnate in the Son of man Jesus, showed us by actually doing loving, forgiving, giving and serving others. The depth of his love and the cost of his grace was shown in Jesus’ death on the cross. On the third day after The Messiah’s death God defeated evil, hate, sin, and death in the resurrection of Jesus our Lord and Savior.