Who Is Jesus
Who Is Jesus?
It is the fundamental question of Christianity. This question is addressed by all the Gospel Writers, and perhaps most significantly by the writer of John's Gospel in the profound opening to the Gospel, called the Prologue to the Gospel - John 1:1-18.
This matter was addressed by the Ecumenical Councils especially the 1st Council of Constantinople in 381, from which we get the Nicene Creed, and the Council of Chalcedon in 451 which drives deeper into the understanding of Jesus as entirely human and entirely divine, in terms of his divinity from before existence came to be, and in terms of his humanity, born of the Virgin Mary, these two absolutely distinct realities completely reconciled in the man Jesus.
In the beginning was the Word
This opening phrase from John's Gospel ensures that we understand the link between the New Testament and the Old Testament, taking us right back to the beginning of Genesis. Before existence came to be, Jesus already was. So the first thing we, as Christians say, is the preexistence of Jesus, as we declare in the Nicene Creed eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made.
The Word became flesh
Verse 14 of the prologue reaches the high point with the words and the word became flesh and dwelt among us. The word who existed before existence was even a possibility has be born, like you and me, in human flesh, and in terms of his humanity every much one of us, save without sin. The Creed says he came down from heaven, was incarnate of the Holy Spirit and the Virgin Mary and became truly human.
Human and Divine
The challenge in embracing Jesus as our brother in humanity, and as our Lord and God, is that the Omnipotence, Omniscience of Omnipresence we understand in the very nature of God are encountered and apprehended in the vulnerability of our humanity. The infant entirely dependent on his Mother and the outside world for his survival, and again on the cross as the convicted criminal dying on the cross in what seems absolute defeat, and represents absolute victory.
The Light of the World
The very famous Holman Hunt painting, 'The Light of the World', which hangs in St Paul's Cathedral in London makes a strong connection with the Gospel of John's description of Jesus as the Light of the World. The image also alludes to the verse from the Book of Revelation 3:20 "Listen! I am standing at the door, knocking; if you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in to you and eat with you, and you with me". It should be noted that there is no handle on the outside of the door, for Jesus is never the uninvited guest.
Much of Christian thinking and spirituality follows in the steps of Jesus, and is in many ways counter cultural, seeing power in vulnerability, acceptance when we are rejected, and hope and inspiration in the dark times which we all face from time to time.