The identity of the person and work of Jesus of Nazareth is arguably the most critical subject in all Christian reflection and ministry. Indeed, it is impossible to minister in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ if that ministry is based upon false and ignoble views of who he was (and is), what his life signified, and what we are to make of him today. Everything is at stake in our right conception of his life, death, resurrection, ascension, and return. This module highlights his majestic person and deeds, and mastering the biblical material on him is the task of all responsible discipleship and ministry.
In the first lesson, Jesus, the Messiah and Lord of All: He Came, we consider the significance of the Nicene Creed for Christological studies. We will look specifically at how the Nicene Creed helps frame our thinking as urban ministers about a study of the biblical materials on Jesus, especially in the sense of helping us view Christ’s work as two movements: his humiliation (i.e., his becoming human and dying on the cross for our sakes) and his exaltation (his resurrection, ascension, and the hope of his return in power). We will also discover the biblical teaching on Jesus’s nature before he came to earth, as preexistent Word or Logos. We will consider his divinity as well as two historical heresies regarding Christ’s divinity, and close our discussion by commenting on the significance of Jesus’ divinity for our faith and discipleship.
Next, our second lesson, Jesus, the Messiah and Lord of All: He Lived, explores the humanity of Christ. We will focus on his dual reasons for coming to earth: to reveal to us the Father’s glory and redeem us from sin and Satan’s power. We will also look at the creedal language regarding Jesus’ humanity, his conception by the Holy Spirit and birth to the Virgin Mary, and investigate some of the historical errors connected with denying either Jesus’ divinity or humanity. We close this lesson by considering three important aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry on earth. These include his identity as the Baptized One who identifies with sinners, the Proclaimer of the Kingdom of God, reasserting God’s right to rule over creation, and as the Suffering Servant of Yahweh who would give his soul as a ransom for many.
In our third lesson, Jesus, the Messiah and Lord of All: He Died, we will explore the theological implications of Jesus’ humiliation and death, his descent in his divine person on our behalf. We will consider Jesus’ humiliation in the Incarnation, his life and ministry, as well as his death. In considering his sacrifice on Calvary, we will explore some of the historical models for understanding his work on the cross. These include the perspective of his death as a ransom for us, as a propitiation (divine satisfaction) for our sins, as a substitutionary sacrifice in our place, as a victory over the devil and death itself, and as a reconciliation between God and humankind. We will also explore some of the historical alternative views of Jesus’ death. These include his death as 1) a moral example, 2) a demonstration of God’s love, 3) a demonstration of God’s justice, 4) a victory over the forces of evil and sin, and 5) a satisfaction of God’s honor.
Finally, in our fourth lesson, Jesus, the Messiah and Lord of All: He Rose and Will Return, we begin with a consideration of the various aspects and implications of two events which mark the exaltation of Christ. The resurrection serves as a vindication of Jesus’ Messiahship and sonship, and his ascension grants to our Savior a position of dignity and authority that allows him to fill all things with his glory. We explore these in light of the biblical teaching of the Creedal language, enabling us to understand God’s intent to exalt Jesus of Nazareth to supreme heir of all things as a result of his death on the cross. We will close our study by looking at the last three statements regarding Christ’s person in the Nicene Creed. We will consider his coming in glory, his judgment of the nations, and discuss briefly the nature of his coming reign of the Kingdom of God. Perhaps no study of doctrine can compare with the thrill of understanding from a biblical and creedal way the richness, wonder, and mystery of God’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth. His humiliation and ascension is the heart of the Gospel, and the center of our devotion, worship, and service. May God use this study of his glorious person to enable you to better love and serve him who alone has been given the preeminence by the Father. To him be the glory!
Required Reading Texts:
- Erickson, Introducing Christian Doctrine
- Bowman, Putting Jesus in His Place: The Case for the Deity of Christ
- Demarest, Who Is Jesus? Further Reflections on Jesus Christ: The God-Man,