Who was Jesus
He was hailed as a prophet , a man sent by God. In his preaching, teaching and healing he matched up to that role, and as such he is one of a long and noble sequence of God's people before and since. But Christians believe, and as his own life and teachings suggest he is much more than that. He called for faith in and loyalty to himself, and presented himself as the final arbiter of people's destiny. He not only proclaimed forgiveness and salvation: but by his one life and suffering he achieved it. He is the messanger and also is the heart of the message. He calls people to God but is also himself the way to God. During Jesus' earthly life his disciples only dimly understood all this though thy understood enough to make them tenaciously loyal to him.. But after his "resurection" they quickly came to speak of him as more than just a man, and to worship him as they worshipped his Father.
What Jesus taught
The Gospels sum up Jesus' teaching in Galilee in the challenge: "The time has come; the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!" Here is a short summary of his message:
- "The time has come" Jesus saw this as the time of fulfilment. In other words, however he shared popular ideas of a political deliverer, he saw himself as the Messiah, come to save God's people. He called himself the son of man, echoing a figure in the Old Testament book of Daniel who represented the ultimate delieverance and triumph of the true people of God.
- "The kingdom of God is near" It means that God is in control, that his will is done. So he called people to enter God's kingdom to accept his soverignty and to live as his subjects. He taught them to look forward to the day when this kingship of God, already inaugurated by Jesus, would find its fulfilment when everyone acknowledged God as king, when Jesus himself would return in glory, and share the universal and everlasting dominion of his Father.
- "Repent" Jesus called his own people, primarly those in Isreal, to return to their true loyalty to God. He warned them of God's judgement if they refused. After his "resurrection," he sent his disciples to call all nations into the kingdom of God. God's demandsd are abosolute and disobedience or disloyalty would no be overlooked.
- "Believe the good news" Now was the time for delieverance. Jesus preached this not in a political sense, but in terms of the restoration of a true relationship with God. Those who repented would find forgivness and a new life. And as Jesus predicted his own suffering and death, he saw this as the means of restoration.