Who is Jesus of Nazareth?
- In Jesus of Nazareth God, in sovereign and free grace, breaks through our alienation and our blindness that is a result of the human condition of sin.
- For the salvation of the world the eternal Word, the Son of God, humbled himself and by the Holy Spirit took on our humanity in the Virgin Mary’s womb. He was born and lived in Palestine, as a carpenter and then an itinerant Jewish rabbi, or teacher. In him deity and humanity are united in one person, truly and fully God, yet truly and fully human; he was subject to all our human limitations and weaknesses and so also to temptation and suffering.
- Jesus came to the Jews as their long-promised Messiah, identifying with them as an oppressed people. Anointed with the Holy Spirit, he proclaimed God’s coming victorious rule on earth. Already in his own ministry God’s rule invaded our time as a foretaste of God’s new world.
- Tempted like us, he overcame temptation and broke the human pattern of failure and sin. He made God’s grace known to sinners and healed the sick in body, mind and spirit. But some of his people rejected him, because his life and teaching judged their religious perceptions and practice, morality and national ambitions. Jews and Gentiles alike were guilty of his crucifixion. By crucifying Jesus the world passed judgement on itself.
- Jesus crowned his work for God’s coming rule by giving his life as a sin offering for the world. The guilt of sin demanded the death of the guilty. But, in obedience to the Father’s loving purpose, Christ died on the cross as a sinless human being for sinful human beings, the righteous for the unrighteous, the Judge in the place of the judged. He took our sin and bore God’s judgement and wrath against sin in our place.
- Only in this way could he give us his righteousness. This unblemished sacrifice atoned once and for all for all sin; no other sacrifice is needed, sufficient or acceptable to God.
- Jesus not only suffered death for us but by his glorious resurrection overcame death for us. God raised him bodily, in time and space, as the first-fruits of those who have fallen asleep. Thus the victim of sin and death became for us the Victor over sin, death, Satan and all evil powers, inaugurated the new creation and brought us the free gift of eternal life.
- This atonement reconciled the world to God. It honoured the holy justice of God that cannot condone or overlook sin and at the same time proved God’s love for all sinners and glorified the grace of God that forgives. For through union with Christ we have forgiveness for all our sin, righteousness before God, reconciliation with God, and victory over sin, death and every evil power.
- Thus Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and people, the only Saviour for all humankind. Exalted to God’s ‘right hand’, he is our eternal Advocate and High Priest who intercedes for us; he is Lord over all the universe and over every area of human life, private and public.
(From the UPCSA Confession of Faith: The God who Redeems; God the Son, Revealer and Reconciler)