The personality of Jesus Christ is one of the most interesting and a mystical one in Christian thought. The Old and New Testaments contain the evidence about divine nature of Jesus and his life as a human. The biblical facts suggest that Jesus was a man. He was a first-century Jew who was born in a Jewish home, brought up in a Galilean village, taught the Jewish heritage, trained in the specific trade of carpenter, roused to his specific role in history through the preaching of John the Baptist, and subject throughout his life to the essential limitations of human life. Thesis Jesus is a human as he has the same flesh and body as other humans but he has a divine soul of his father, the God.
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The church came to see in Jesus a new start for humanity, a new leader who gives to all of his people a share in a renewed human race. This conviction did not often come to explicit expression. At first there existed only a general agreement that things had been radically changed by the coming of Jesus, so that his followers could live in a new life situation. Jesus knew the sting of unfair treatment and desertion by former friends; he suffered pain and experienced physical death. In these assertions that Jesus represents human life with a difference, we see an example of a frequent tendency in New Testament thinking about Jesus. The New Testament disciples and writers recognize and defend his real humanity. They know he shares many qualities with other men and leaders. But they are never satisfied to describe him as being like other men (Lyons, 1994). Deep conviction born of faith makes them emphasize the differences between Jesus and others who may share a quality or title. His oneness with mankind is a fact. But it is not the only fact. And they cannot rest until they have at least partly understood and stated the difference they sense. He was a man but his birth required more than a human explanation, his life was free from the moral flaws which mar other men, and he began a new stage in the life of humanity which puts him, like Adam, at the head of a new race of men (Conway, 2007).
Once the Christians were convinced that Jesus was risen and exalted to the right hand of God, where he had a position of honor and authority on behalf of the Father, the naturalness of designating him by the title Lord is manifest. He was acting for God the Father and with the Father’s power and authority. This high position of present honor and authority enables us to understand a remarkable practice of the early Greek-speaking church, in which they applied to Jesus their risen Lord Old Testament sayings which referred to Yahweh (whose Hebrew name had been translated “Lord” in the Greek Old Testament) (Lyons 1994). Even during Jesus’ earthly ministry the title could have meaning for disciples as they thought of his miraculous power and authoritative teaching. But its New Testament use for that period is sparing, and the evidence indicates that only for the period after his resurrection and exaltation did the title seem fully suited to be his common and central title. He was then effectively and unquestionably the anointed Lord, who had acted for God in his earthly career and was now acting for the Father to continue and complete the divine purpose (Haught, 1993).
Jesus was a prophet and teacher. In this he was like many Old Testament spokesmen for God. He followed the prophet John the Baptist, and like John, he gathered disciples and taught men. He was much like the rabbis of his day. The rabbi had his followers, who learned their message and their place in Jewish leadership by accompanying their leader, hearing him, watching what he did, and discussing problems with him. It is not surprising that Jesus, according to Matthew, Mark, and John, was called Rabbi and was considered by many a rabbi with a group of disciples who were learning his interpretation of the Law (e.g., Matt. 26:25; Mark 9:5; John 3:2). The Gospels contain several titles which among Jews all point to the same general view of Jesus (Rausch, 2003). Preacher, teacher, Rabbi, Master, prophet -they all carry the idea of a God-given message, a teaching ministry, and a group of followers who live with their master and learn his message by personal relation rather than merely in a classroom. Because he taught with a fresh note of direct authority, and never with a mere desire to hand on inherited ideas, and because he always spoke with the burning consciousness that God was speaking through him an urgent word which not only challenged the mind but also demanded the decision of men, the one of these titles which most fully represents the relation of Jesus to his hearers is that of prophet. This aspect of Jesus’ work his followers fully recognized, but, as we shall see, they preferred to indicate it by calling him their Lord. After the Resurrection the title prophet seemed inadequate to express his dominant role, and the title Lord continued and surpassed the note of authority which the title prophet expressed (Rausch, 2003).
In sum, Christ had brought the grace of God to men, and had brought men to God, as no other had done or could do. Therefore, he was not merely one mediator among others equally capable of giving such help; to all who believed in him, he proved the sole and unique Mediator. All such titles seek to express how adequately Christ has provided salvation from the guilt and grip of sin. They express the conviction that he has done more than human ministry could ever have accomplished. Only God could deal thus with sin. The greatness of his work points to a personal greatness that transcends human nature. Implicit in such titles is a high Christology. The title Christ soon became a proper name, and so does not really occupy the central theological role that its continual use might at first suggest. Lord was the universal and central title which the church used to suggest the decisive role and importance of Jesus Christ.
- Conway, E. ‘A God ‘embarrassed at the prospect of possession’ – Exploring Divine Revelation’ in Hession, A. & Kieran, P. (eds.) Exploring Theology. Dublin: Veritas, 2007.
- Haught, J. Mystery and Promise – A Theology of Revelation. Collegeville: A Michael Galazier Book, 1993
- Lyons, E. Jesus: self-portrait by God. Blackrock Columba Press, 1994.
- Rausch, T. Who is Jesus? An Introduction to Christology. Collegeville: Minnesota, The Liturgical Press, 2003