Questions and Answers about Jesus

 

Contents:

Was Jesus God?

Difference Between Jesus of History and Jesus of Faith

Proof of the Resurrection

Jesus' Genealogy

Jesus' Physical Appearance

Jesus: "My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me?"

Jesus & Judaism

The Pharisees and Jesus

What Was Jesus' Attitude Toward the Pharisees?

What Was the Pharisees' Attitude Toward Jesus?

Jesus' Intercession

Was Jesus Limited?

Jesus' Descent into Hell

Jesus Could Have Sinned!

 

Was Jesus God?

Question: Once a rich young man came to Jesus and asked "Good Teacher, . . ." Immediately Jesus said "Why do you call me Good? Only God is good." So, is Jesus God?

Answer: Yes. The apostles are all in agreement that the Man who was Jesus, from the town of Nazareth in Galilee. was God in human flesh.

John 1:1-14 (NIV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. . . . He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Word was God; the Word became flesh; He is the One and Only. The Greek word for "One and Only" is monogenes—one of a kind; unique. The same word is used again in John 3:16 (NIV):

"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

Jesus was unique in that He was both God and man. He was as fully God as the Father in Heaven, and yet He was as fully man as any one of us. I like to call Him the God-man: he was both God and man. Don't ask me to explain how this can be, because it is one of the mysteries of God. We can learn more about it from Scripture, but I don't think we will ever really understand how God could become a man—one of His own created beings!

Col 1:13-17 (NIV) For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

Paul is describing Jesus to those who lived at Colossae. Jesus is the firstborn over all creation—first in importance; He created all things, &etc. So in Genesis 1:1, the One we call Jesus was involved in the creation of the world!

Heb 1:1-3 (NIV) In the past God spoke to our forefathers through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven.

The Son, Jesus, is heir of all things; through Him God made the universe; "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being."

There is no question among the apostles that the Man called Jesus was and is God. We really cannot understand it because we are created beings. How can the creature understand the Creator? We can learn about Him, but we can never understand all there is to know about Him.

One last text will help you see how closely the God-man (Jesus) is associated with His people:

1 Cor 10:1-4 (NIV) For I do not want you to be ignorant of the fact, brothers, that our forefathers were all under the cloud and that they all passed through the sea. They were all baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea. They all ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink; for they drank from the spiritual rock that accompanied them, and that rock was Christ.

Jesus Christ was with the Israelites in all their wanderings. Evidently He was the God Who appeared to Moses in the burning bush. He was the God Who spoke the 10 commandments and wrote them upon the tables of stone with His own finger. He was the God who led them in the pillar of cloud and of fire.

Yes, there is abundant evidence in the Scripture that Jesus is God.

The most important thing, of course, is that we accept Jesus as our personal Savior. As God in human form, He died on the cross for you and for me, and rose from the dead on the third day. He ascended to Heaven in the full view of many people, and now He acts as our attorney before the Father in Heaven (1 John 2:1,2)

Do you believe in Jesus as your Savior? Why not let Him be your God and Savior. He will forgive your sins, and give you a peace in your heart like you've never had before. Rest yourself in His loving arms (Matt. 11:28-30)

 

Difference Between Jesus of History and Jesus of Faith

Question: What is the difference between the Jesus of history and the Jesus of faith?
Answer:
Years ago, in Seminary, I heard about a book written by Albert Schweitzer entitled, I think, In Search of the Historical Jesus. I don't remember all the details but at the time I felt that Schweitzer divorced the man Jesus from our Savior Jesus. And this appears to be somewhat involved in your question too.

The only source from which I can speak is the Bible, and I shall answer your question from that source.

The apostles spent 3 ½ years with Jesus, listened to all He said, saw the miracles He performed, witnessed His persecution and death on the cross, and bore witness to His resurrection from the grave and subsequent ascension. In the beginning they looked upon Him as a man whom they hoped would finally become their Messiah-king, drive out the Romans, and eventually elevate the Jewish people to be the greatest nation on earth.

But as they witnessed His life and death and resurrection they began to see Him differently. Peter told Him:

Mat 16:16 Simon Peter answered, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."

Though Peter still looked for a physical kingdom, he had begun to realize there Jesus was a lot more than met the eye. Jesus, though human, was also divine.

The apostle John describes Jesus as being both divine and human.

John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men.

The Word was 1) with God, and 2) was God. John describes two individuals here: the Word and God, and both are God. But who is the Word?

John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

The Word, who was divine, became flesh—He became a man. And this Word is the "One and Only, who came from the Father (God)." The term "One and Only" is the same phrase that John uses in his most famous verse:

John 3:16 "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life."

The Greek word "monogenes" meaning "unique" is used in both verses and is translated "one and only." John describes Jesus as a unique individual: God and man—in the same body.

So your question can have no other answer, in the context of Scripture, than this: Jesus of history is in fact the Jesus of faith. The two are indivisibly the same Individual. And He is the one and only God-man who can save us from our sins. He is Man, so He understands our problematic lives intimately. And yet He is God and can both save us from our sins and give us a place in His heavenly Kingdom. Jesus told His disciples:

John 14:1-3 "Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God ; trust also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am."

(In the Library section you will find a book entitled Quest for the Super Leader. It is devoted to the question of the divinity/humanity of Jesus.)

 

Proof of the Resurrection

Question: Can we prove that Jesus rose from the grave?

Answer: The answer to this question depends upon what you mean by the word "prove."

1) If you mean, can we prove scientifically that He rose from the dead? then it cannot be proven.

2) If you mean, can we prove His resurrection through secular history? then it cannot be proven.

3) If you mean, can it be proven by the Bible? then it can be proven.

A) Jesus was seen in the garden by Mary Magdalene.

John 20:11-18 but Mary stood outside the tomb crying. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb and saw two angels in white, seated where Jesus' body had been, one at the head and the other at the foot. They asked her, "Woman, why are you crying?" "They have taken my Lord away," she said, "and I don't know where they have put him." At this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not realize that it was Jesus "Woman," he said, "why are you crying? Who is it you are looking for?" Thinking he was the gardener, she said, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have put him, and I will get him." Jesus said to her, "Mary." She turned toward him and cried out in Aramaic, "Rabboni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said, "Do not hold on to me, for I have not yet returned to the Father. Go instead to my brothers and tell them, 'I am returning to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went to the disciples with the news: "I have seen the Lord!" And she told them that he had said these things to her.

B) Jesus was seen on the road to Jerusalem by several of the women.

Mat 28:8-10 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. "Greetings," he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, "Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me."

C) Jesus was seen by Peter.

Luke 24:33, 34 They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, "It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon."

D) Jesus was seen by the two disciples on the road to Emmaus.

Luke 24:13-31 Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; . . . 28 As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus acted as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over." So he went in to stay with them. When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight.

E) Jesus was seen by the 11 apostles (there could have been many more.) in the upper room without Thomas

John 20:24 Now Thomas (called Didymus), one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came.

Luke 24:35-43 Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread. While they were still talking about this, Jesus himself stood among them and said to them, "Peace be with you." They were startled and frightened, thinking they saw a ghost. He said to them, "Why are you troubled, and why do doubts rise in your minds? Look at my hands and my feet. It is I myself! Touch me and see; a ghost does not have flesh and bones, as you see I have." When he had said this, he showed them his hands and feet. And while they still did not believe it because of joy and amazement, he asked them, "Do you have anything here to eat?" They gave him a piece of broiled fish, and he took it and ate it in their presence.

F) Jesus was seen a week later by the apostles with Thomas present.

 John 20:26-29 A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, "Peace be with you!" Then he said to Thomas, "Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe." Thomas said to him, "My Lord and my God!" Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have

G) Jesus was seen on the shore of the Sea of Galilee.

John 21:1 Afterward Jesus appeared again to his disciples, by the Sea of Tiberias [Galilee]. It happened this way:

H) Jesus was seen by His disciples on a hill in Galilee.

Mat 28:16, 17 Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted.

I) Jesus was seen by upwards of 500 people at one time.

1 Cor 15:5 and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.

J) Jesus was seen by James. (It is not sure whether this was the brother of John, or Jesus' own brother.)

1 Cor 15:7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,

K) Jesus was seen by His followers at His ascension into Heaven.

Luke 24:50, 51 When he had led them out to the vicinity of Bethany, he lifted up his hands and blessed them. While he was blessing them, he left them and was taken up into heaven.


Jesus' Genealogy

Question: Both Matthew and Luke have a chronology of the genealogy from Abraham down to Joseph,
Mary's husband. But there's two problems I don't understand: 1. The genealogies are different. In Matthew it says Joseph was descended from David's son, King Solomon, while Luke says he descended from David's other son Nathan. 2. They take all this time to prove that Joseph is related to King David and Abraham, yet Mary was a virgin right up to the birth of Jesus--the Holy Spirit was Jesus' Father. So Joseph was never involved, so to speak. So why is his genealogy made to seem so relevant?

Answer: Your question about the contradictions between the genealogy of Jesus in Matthew and Luke is a good one. And it has been used by those who wish to disprove the Bible as evidence that the book couldn't have been inspired—or there wouldn't be such glaring contradictions. However there is a simple explanation which comes from the culture of the times and the intended audience of each writer.

Matthew wrote primarily to the Jewish community and takes great pains to point out the many prophecies which Jesus fulfilled. For this reason he adhered to the current culture and traditions known to all Jews.

In first century Judaism, an adopted child was considered as though he were actually a physical child of both parents. He was given the right to be considered as part of the genealogy so far as the Jews were concerned. Since the family tree was counted from father to son, an adopted son would have been listed as "the son of" as though he had been born into the family. Since Joseph married Mary, he essentially adopted Jesus as his son. So Joseph's family tree became, by reason of adoption, that of Jesus—and Matthew traces it back to David and on to Abraham.

Luke, on the other hand, wrote his gospel primarily for a gentile audienceillustrated by the fact that he addressed it to "Theophilus," a gentile believer. (Luke also addressed Acts to the same man.) In the gentile world there wasn't as much emphasis on genealogy as with the Jews. But there was the same male-dominated society—even more so. Luke appears to be more sympathetic to women in both Luke and Acts, and appears to have gotten much of the story of Jesus' early years from Mary.

Scholars have suggested that Luke traced Mary's genealogy back to David via Nathan. He goes even further than Matthew by continuing the list (in abbreviated form) back to Adam. This is why, it is thought, that the two books have different lists of Jesus' ancestors.

I think the most important point is this: Whether you follow Jesus' birth line via Mary or His adopted line through Joseph, He's still the Son of David, the Messiah, the Christ.

Jesus' Physical Appearance

Question: I am an African American male who is searching for truths. Since Jesus walked the earth as the Son of God, what color or racial characteristics did Jesus have? More specifically, was Jesus Black or White?

Answer: The color of Jesus' skin has been discussed for centuries. Some think He was white, some think He was black, and others have different ideas. The Bible is quite clear on this: Jesus was born of Jewish parents, a descendant of King David (Matt. 1; Luke 3). Jesus was a Jew. We might be disappointed in this, but we must respect it as fact.

Though Jesus was physically Jewish He made it clear that He came to save all mankind. "Come unto me all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matt. 11:28. And He tells us in Rev. 22:17: ". . . whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely."

So it doesn't really matter what color He was. He did not come to save one ethnic group or another; He came to save the human race.

 

Jesus—"My God, why have You forsaken Me?"

Question: Why did Jesus cry out to the Lord just before He gave up His Spirit: "My God, why have you forsaken Me?"

Answer: There are several issues involved here:

1: Jesus came to save us from our sins:

Mat 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.

2: What are these sins from which Jesus came to save us?

The original sin—committed by Satan in Heaven—arose from his desire to be God.

Isa 14:12-14 How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High.

This is the same sin that Satan got Adam and Eve to commit.

Gen 3:4, 5 And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.

Sin is the desire to set ourselves up as god--to be in complete control of our lives and everything that comes within our influence. So you can see why the first commandment says:

Exo 20:3 Thou shalt have no other gods before me.

When we seek to do anything which in effect places our own choices or desires above the will of God as presented in the Holy Scriptures, we are in effect putting ourselves in the place of God and worshiping ourselves instead of worshiping God. That may seem rather strong to begin with, but since God owns everything—He made everything in the beginning and after Satan and his subjects (us) wrested control of it—he bought it all back when He died on the cross.

So when we seek to use any of God's things in a way other than He specifies in His word, we are putting ourselves in place of God. Perhaps that's what the prophet Isaiah meant when he said:

Isa 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.

Iniquity—sin—separates us from God. The apostle Paul pointed out:

Rom 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

3: How did Jesus save us from our sins?

If Jesus were to save us from our sins, then He would have had to take upon Himself the punishment for sin—death, and separation from God. So on the cross Jesus took the punishment for your sins, and for my sins, and for all the sins of the whole world—past, present, and future.

The presence of sin not only causes death, it also separates the One who bore that sin from God. I believe that this is why Jesus cried "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me."

 

Jesus Christ & Judaism

Question: How were the teachings of Jesus Christ related to the ancient laws of Judaism (the Torah). Did the teachings of Jesus challenge or support the Torah?

Answer: The Torah is the 5 books of Moses. Jesus taught from them and repeatedly told the Jews that if they had listened to the Scripture they would believe in Him. One example of many:

Luke 16:31 "But he said to him, 'If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.'"

Jewish traditions for the most part are founded on the Talmud, a commentary on the Torah, and on the Mishna, a commentary on the Talmud. These never became part of Scripture but are the "traditions of the elders" that are mentioned so often in the gospels.

Jesus was in harmony with the Torah—God's word as it was written by Moses. But He was not in harmony with the human commentary of the Talmud or of the interpretation of that commentary given in the Mishnah.

I find it very important, in view of all this, to study and obey the books of Scripture as contained in our Old and New Testaments.

 

The Pharisees and Jesus

Question: What was the relationship between Jesus and the Pharisees.

Answer: As far as I know Jesus commended the Pharisees only once.

Mat 23:23 (NIV) "Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You give a tenth of your spices—mint, dill and cummin. But you have neglected the more important matters of the law—justice, mercy and faithfulness. You should have practiced the latter, without neglecting the former."

While Jesus condemned the Pharisees for their lack of "justice, mercy and faithfulness," He commended them for their precise tithing.

Tithing is 10% of the income. Tithe of $10 would be $1. This is enjoined in several places, and an example is given by Abraham and Jacob.

Gen 14:18-20 (NIV) [After Abram and his servants had rescued Lot and the captured residents of Sodom from invading forces.] "Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. He was priest of God Most High, and he blessed Abram, saying, "Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Creator of heaven and earth. And blessed be God Most High, who delivered your enemies into your hand." Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything."

Gen 28:20-22 (NIV) [after seeing the vision of the ladder] ". . . Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me and will watch over me on this journey I am taking and will give me food to eat and clothes to wear so that I return safely to my father's house, then the LORD will be my God and this stone that I have set up as a pillar will be God's house, and of all that you give me I will give you a tenth."

Other texts which deal with tithing:

Lev 27:30-32 (NIV) "'A tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the LORD; it is holy to the LORD. . . . The entire tithe of the herd and flock—every tenth animal that passes under the shepherd's rod—will be holy to the LORD."

Mal 3:8-10 (NIV) "Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. "But you ask, 'How do we rob you?' "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse—the whole nation of you—because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

So when Jesus commended the Pharisees He did so on the one point in which they followed the example of the Patriarchs, and the written command of God.

 

What was Jesus' Attitude Toward the Pharisees?

Jesus had a low opinion of the Pharisees, not because He hated the men—He had come to save them from their sins (Matt 1:21) but because He despised their attitudes and practices. He called them hypocrites (play actors) on numerous occasions. He gave as His chief reason the fact they said one thing and did another. I could present whole pages full of proofs but this one passage, I believe, will show why He didn't side with them.

Mat 23:2-7 (NIV) "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must obey them and do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy loads and put them on men's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. "Everything they do is done for men to see: They make their phylacteries wide and the tassels on their garments long; they love the place of honor at banquets and the most important seats in the synagogues; they love to be greeted in the marketplaces and to have men call them 'Rabbi.'"

These practices, Jesus explained, were merely for the purpose of gaining praise from other people, and were thus unacceptable to God.

Mat 6:2-16 (NIV) "So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. . . . (NIV) And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full."

 

What Was the Pharisees' Attitude Toward Jesus?

The Pharisees didn't think much of Jesus either. In fact they were infuriated by everything He said and did. And they still loathe Jesus and all His followers even to this day (the Orthodox Jews claim to be Pharisees).

There are many illustrations in the gospels to show their attitude towards Jesus and why they continually sought to kill Him. Here are just a few.

Jesus ate with people they considered to be sinners.

Mat 9:11, 12 (NIV) When the Pharisees saw this, they asked his disciples, "Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and 'sinners'?" On hearing this, Jesus said, "It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick.

Jesus did things on Sabbath which they considered unlawful.

1) He allowed his disciples to "harvest" on Sabbath.

Mat 12:1, 2 (NIV) At that time Jesus went through the grain fields on the Sabbath. His disciples were hungry and began to pick some heads of grain and eat them. When the Pharisees saw this, they said to him, "Look! Your disciples are doing what is unlawful on the Sabbath."

2) He healed people on the Sabbath.

Mat 12:9, 10 (NIV) Going on from that place, he went into their synagogue, and a man with a shriveled hand was there. Looking for a reason to accuse Jesus, they asked him, "Is it lawful to heal on the Sabbath?" (See also: John 5)

3) Jesus claimed to be the One who made the Sabbath.

Mat 12:8 (NIV) For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."

Jesus said and did things they considered to be blasphemous.

1) Jesus often referred to Himself as the "Son of Man," (a Messianic title).

(The gospel writers quote Him as calling Himself by this title 82 times in 78 verses.)

2) He called God His Father in ways in which they knew He claimed to be God.

John 10:30-31 (NIV) [Jesus said] I and the Father are one." Again the Jews picked up stones to stone him, but Jesus said to them, "I have shown you many great miracles from the Father. For which of these do you stone me?" "We are not stoning you for any of these," replied the Jews, "but for blasphemy, because you, a mere man, claim to be God."

3) He claimed to be able to forgive sin.

Mat 9:3-6 (NIV) At this, some of the teachers of the law said to themselves, "This fellow is blaspheming!" Knowing their thoughts, Jesus said, "Why do you entertain evil thoughts in your hearts? Which is easier: to say, 'Your sins are forgiven,' or to say, 'Get up and walk'? But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins. . . ." Then he said to the paralytic, "Get up, take your mat and go home."

Repeatedly the Pharisees asked Jesus to give them a sign that He was who He claimed to be, yet He refused.

Mat 12:38, 39ff (NIV) Then some of the Pharisees and teachers of the law said to him, "Teacher, we want to see a miraculous sign from you." He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Jesus often broke their traditions.

Mat 15:1, 2 (NIV) Then some Pharisees and teachers of the law came to Jesus from Jerusalem and asked, "Why do your disciples break the tradition of the elders? They don't wash their hands before they eat!"

And Jesus continually called them hypocrites, embarrassing them before their people.

If some well-known person were to do and say these things about you, what would your attitude be toward them? Unless you were surrendered to God with all your heart, mind, and soul, you just might feel toward that person about the same emotions that the Pharisees experienced about Jesus.

 

Jesus' Intercession

Question: Does Jesus intercede for me?

Answer: In a word, "yes." But, of course, you need to see it for yourself in the Bible rather than just take my word for it.

There many texts that refer to the work of Christ's work for all mankind-and for us in particular.

Christ is our defense Lawyer.

1 John 2:1, 2 My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have one who speaks to the Father in our defenseJesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, and not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.

Since Christ has life in HimselfHe is immortalHe will live forever. And as long as He livesand as long as sinful men come to GodHe will intercede for them.

Heb 7:25 Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them.

Christ mediates for us that we can actually receive the salvation He promised to them.

Heb 9:13-15 The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God! For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritancenow that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.

The sanctuary that the Israelites built was a copy of the true one that is in Heaven. The heavenly Sanctuary is the scene where Christ intercedes for us.

Heb 9:24 For Christ did not enter a man-made sanctuary that was only a copy of the true one; he entered heaven itself, now to appear for us in God's presence.

In His prayer of intercession in John 17, Jesus makes it plain that He intercedes for all those who accept Him as their Savior.

John 17:20, 21 "My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message,

John 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

So Jesus intercedes for youand for all those who believe on Him as the Savior of the World.

 

Was Jesus Limited

Question: Was Jesus limited in any way on earth?

Answer: Yes. He was limited to a human body and as such could only be at one place at a time.

Heb 2:14-17 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity . . . . For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.

Jesus wanted the gospel of the kingdom to be preached to all the world. And since on earth He was limited to be only in one place at a time it would have been impossible for all the world to come physically into His presence. That's why He sent the Holy Spirit in His place, because the Holy Spirit could be everywhere and in every person.

John 16:7, 8 But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment:

 

Jesus' Descent into Hell

Question: What happened to Jesus when He descended into the lower part of the earth?

Answer: Many people believe that Jesus descended into Hell (you use the phrase "the lower part of the earth") when He died on the cross. This idea has been wrung from a statement that the Apostle Peter made in his 1st letter.

1 Pet 3:18-20 (NIV) For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, . . .

At face value this text is a little confusing, isn't it? How can we be sure what it says? There's a rule that Bible scholars use to understand texts like these: IF THERE'S A QUESTION ABOUT THE MEANING OF A TEXT, OR IF THE TEXT CAN BE INTERPRETED IN MORE THAN ONE WAY, THEN FIND OTHER BIBLE PASSAGES ON THE SAME SUBJECT THAT ARE CLEAR, AND USE THEM TO HELP UNRAVEL THE DIFFICULT TEXT. Perhaps that's what we should do here.

Verse 18 is quite straight forward: Christ died for everyone, and He wants to save everyone. How would He do that? "He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit," that is, by the Holy Spirit. That's what the resurrection is all about. Three days after Christ died He rose from the grave in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Now we get to the interesting part: "through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison . . ." referring to the people who lived before the flood. Are we to understand this to mean that between the time Jesus died and the time He rose from the grave that he went and preached to the people who wouldn't listen to Noah and thus died in the flood?

Perhaps we need help in interpreting this one. It might help us to review briefly what the Bible teaches about "death" and then we'll be able to understand what happened to Jesus while He was in the grave.

1. The Bible teaches that the dead don't know anything. When they breathe their last, their bodies decay and they can no longer think.

Eccl 9:5, 6 (NIV) For the living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing; they have no further reward, and even the memory of them is forgotten. Their love, their hate and their jealousy have long since vanished; never again will they have a part in anything that happens under the sun.

Psa 146:3, 4 (KJV) Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

2. Jesus described death as a sleep.

John 11:11-14 (NIV) After he had said this, he went on to tell them, "Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I am going there to wake him up." His disciples replied, "Lord, if he sleeps, he will get better." Jesus had been speaking of his death, but his disciples thought he meant natural sleep. So then he told them plainly, "Lazarus is dead, . . ."

There are dozens of Bible verses that talk about the subject of death and all agree with the understanding that death is a sleep; that the dead cannot think; that they know nothing and cannot have any more contact with anyone and/or anything that is happening on Earth.

Now lets go back to our original text and see what we can find.

1 Pet 3:18-20 (NIV) For Christ died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive by the Spirit, through whom also he went and preached to the spirits in prison who disobeyed long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, . . .

When we take into account that dead people are really dead and don't know anything, we have to put aside any interpretation that has a dead Jesus preaching to dead people. That just doesn't fit with the rest of Scripture.

So who was it that preached to the spirits in prison, and when did he do it? You'll notice that Jesus was made aliveresurrectedby the Spirit, and it was through this same Spirit that He preached to the people in Noah's time. It appears that Jesus actually preached to the people back in Noah's daynot in personbut through the work of the Holy Spirit speaking through Noah. At the same time the Spirit worked on the hearts of sinful people, drawing them to surrender and enter the Ark. That's what God meant when He told Noah:

Gen 6:3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal ; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."

Jesus could offer this salvation to the antediluvians through His spirit because He knew that He would gain the victory over sin by His own death on the cross.

And the same Jesus preaches to us through His Holy Spirit, calling us to surrender to Him and let Him have His way in our lives. Jesus wants to forgive our sins and to make us spiritually clean. He wants to save us from our sinsand He will if we'll let Him.


Jesus Could Have Sinned!

Question: Although Jesus was both human and God, as human, was He capable of sinning? or of failing? Even though He did neither, was it possible?

Answer: Sadly, yes. You can see what a predicament we put Him in. We left Him completely vulnerable to the attacks of the devil, and He could have sinned, He could have fallen. But gladly, He did not. And you can be sure that what He did was for keeps! He didn't just go through the motions: Michael and Lucifer fought hand to hand in a death-struggle.

The Bible says:

1) Jesus was/is God the Son.

John 1:1-18 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of men. . . . He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. . . . No one has ever seen God, but God the One and Only, who is at the Father's side, has made him known.

2) Jesus, God the Son, became a human being.

Phil 2:5-8 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death-- even death on a cross!

3) Jesus, the God-man was tempted in every way that we are tempted.

Heb 2:14-18 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death—that is, the devil—and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants. For this reason he had to be made like his brothers in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people. Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

4) Jesus, the God-man, though tempted, did not sin.

Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are--yet was without sin.

You and I know nothing of temptation, for we give in before it really gets tough. Jesus knew the full force of temptation because He never gave in. Satan would tighten the screws, as it were, but He wouldn't give in. So Satan would tighten the screws a little more. But Jesus wouldn't give in. Jesus never cried "Uncle!" He took temptation like God . . . while living in the body of a man.

Oh, what did we do?

We caused Him such terrible sorrow. We caused Him such awful pain. We drove Him to the brink, . . . but He never gave in; He never sinned. He would rather die than sin; in fact He DID die rather than sin; He died because we would rather that He die . . . for our sin.

5) And Jesus, our God-become-man, died for us, not because of any request on our part, or because there was anything at all in us that was worthy of such a sacrifice. No, Jesus died for us when we were still His enemies.

Rom 5:6-8 You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

So Jesus was tempted . . . tempted to the utter limit . . . to the limit of human endurance. He could have given in . . . He could have sinned . . . He could have fallen. Oh, how easy it would have been. Just a little slip here, or a sharp word there, or a glance in the wrong direction, and He'd have died . . . died for his own sin. And we, we would never have had a second chance. That would have been the end . . . the end of everything.

 

Aren't you glad Jesus was willing to be tempted?

Aren't you glad Jesus was victorious over Satan?

Aren't you glad Jesus didn't sin?

I am! And I know you are too.

Why don't you meet me at the Savior's side . . .

         in His Heavenly Kingdom!