“For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” 1 Cor 15:3
You probably hear Jesus’ name more than you realise. You probably quote his words more often than you thought. You might even wear a cross around your neck. Yet in spite of the many ways that Jesus is seen and heard today, very few people really know who he is, what he came to do, and why he matters.
Who is Jesus?
Born roughly 2000 years ago, Jesus led a relatively quiet life until about the age of 30. You can find plenty of historical evidence for Jesus, that he was a real man who lived and taught in first-century Israel. The writings now collected in the Bible record for us that for three years he preached the good news of salvation. He also performed miracles through which he showed himself to be the Son of God.
What did he come to do?
The Bible reveals God as Father, Son and Spirit in loving union, one God in three persons. We were created to know God and enjoy friendship with him. But humanity turned away from God. We broke our relationship with him and went our own way of selfishness rather than love – this what the Bible calls “sin”.
Jesus is fully God and fully human. He is the Son come to make the Father known and accomplish their plan for salvation. To have friendship with God, we need a way for our sin to be dealt with. Jesus lived a perfect life, then he sacrificed himself for our sins when he died on the cross. Jesus died in our place so we can be forgiven. Three days after his death, Jesus was raised to life, having defeated sin and death and evil.
Why does it matter?
Through faith in Jesus, we can enjoy friendship with the Father, and receive the Holy Spirit in our lives. Our spirit will go to be with him in Heaven when we die. When Jesus comes back, he will raise us to new physical life to enjoy life with him forever in the new creation.
This is why Christians call what they believe ‘the gospel’. Gospel means good news. It’s good news that God’s anger at our sin is dealt with and that we are reconciled to him forever. If we trust Jesus as our saviour, we don’t have to feel guilty or ashamed for all we’ve done wrong – it’s all forgiven! The Holy Spirit now helps us grow in love for God and for other people.
This is the message Jesus gave the church to proclaim until he returns and makes all things new. This good news matters because it’s the only way we can have a relationship with God.